August Movin’ Mama: Haniyah

Meet Haniyah!

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Congrats to Haniyah, our August feature, who we absolutely adore! As a Movin’ Mama to her 4-year-old son, residing in Boylston, MA with her husband, she’s an inspiration to all new moms looking for balance–killing it in her Marketing management position at a renowned coffee brand, and running to stay fit both mentally and physically. We asked her how she’s living well today, and here’s what she shared…

How do you typically start your day?

I start my day around 6:30am before anyone else in the house is awake. I get ready for work and leave the house at 7am. My husband works a later schedule and both he and my son aren’t morning people, so they’re typically still asleep when I leave the house.

On days when my son is awake before I leave, we’ll read a book or snuggle in my bed for a few minutes before I head out. I’ve been lucky that my husband is in charge of daycare drop-off so my mornings aren’t as crazed as they are for some other moms. Before the start of a chaotic day, I treasure the quiet of the morning.

With Summer underway, what’s your #1 personal wellness goal right now?

My wellness goal is always the same: maintain a healthy lifestyle and feel strong. I don’t believe in fad diets or exercise programs. As someone who struggled with an eating disorder for years as a teenager, it’s important for me to focus on how I feel rather than the number on a scale or a clothing size.

I exercise regularly, eat a balanced diet (for the most part) and try and get enough sleep. Feeling strong is very important to me as it gives me the confidence and energy that I need to get through my day and keep up with my son.

What are some of your best practices for balancing nutrition as a busy mom?

I love to cook and I eat a lot. I believe that the more that we’re involved in the preparation of our food; the better it is for us. I cook almost every night. It’s not usually very fancy given that I work full time, but I make sure we have a good source of protein, a carb, and a veggie.

I’ve made a habit of cooking in bulk on the weekends so that we have a few healthy snack/meal side options during the work week. Sometimes I make a big fruit salad, or a quinoa-based salad, and pretty much every week I make a big tin of banana-chocolate chip muffins (they’re delicious and healthy-ish).

*Check out one of Haniyah’s favorite recipes, Quinoa Butternut Squash Salad from Two Peas and their Pod.*

I’m also a big breakfast person so most nights I’ll make myself a mason jar of overnight oats to bring to work the next day which keep me full for most of the morning.

Unlike my husband and myself, my son is a very picky/stubborn eater. I try to keep healthy food on hand that I know he will eat so that he doesn’t end up eating junk. My fridge usually has grapes, strawberries, Chobani yogurt tubes, milk, and Velveeta cheese slices (disgusting I know, but it’s the only kind of cheese he’ll eat these days). I also put Carnation Instant Breakfast into his milk to supplement his picky diet.

What has been your most effective outlet for stress relief since you had your child?

I’m a bit of a workout fiend and working out has always been my outlet. As a mom it plays an even more important role as it allows me to be at my best both physically and mentally for my family.

I’ve been a runner for almost 20 years so that’s my #1 choice when it comes to exercise. I’m often training for ½ marathons and ran my first full marathon last Spring. I take 1-2 HIIT bootcamp-style classes a week and practice Yoga on occasion. This may sound like a lot but for me its quality over quantity – I push myself hard but on average I don’t work out for more than 1 hour a day. I also do my workouts during my lunch breaks so that when I get home from work I can focus on my family.

Finish this sentence: Being a Mom has made me…

Flexible. I have a Type-A personality and am therefore a bit of a control freak. But you realize very quickly when you become a mom (or as soon as you see that second line on the pregnancy test for that matter), that so many things are out of your control.

In the pre-parenthood world, I was ultimately only responsible for myself, but now I’m responsible for another human being with their own needs and (strong-willed) personality. While it’s frustrating when you have a day planned and your kid gets sick or throws a tantrum in the middle of the supermarket, these experiences have made me realize that sometimes you don’t have control, and that’s ok. Going with the flow goes against my nature but it’s been a good lesson for me.

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

I’m not sure if these are considered wellness “products” but: My unsweetened iced tea in the morning, my running sneakers, and my eyeliner (sometimes making those bad boys pop creates the illusion that I’m more awake than I am!).

What’s your favorite healthy snack on-the-go?

I have a freakishly high metabolism and will go from full to ravenous in the course of about 2 seconds, so I always keep a jar of peanut butter around. When the hunger hits I’ll eat a spoonful of it and it gives me the quick energy boost that I need.

What is a piece of candid advice you’d like to share with a brand-new mama?

Don’t judge other parents and don’t feel judged by other parents. As moms we need a supportive community that fosters love, respect, and support for one another. You know your child better than anyone else – don’t let other people’s narrow opinions, ignorance, and jealousy pressure you into feeling like you’re doing something wrong.

If you breastfeed, that’s fine. If you don’t breastfeed, that’s fine. If you shop at Market Basket and your friend exclusively shops at Whole Foods, that’s fine. If you co-sleep with your baby and another mom practices the Ferber Method, that’s fine too. Every parent is different, every child is different, and every journey is different.