October Movin’ Mama: Kathleen

Meet Kathleen!

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Kathleen is a 24-year-old, first-time Mama to a beautiful baby girl who is now 4 months old, residing in Ft. Lauderdale, FL with her husband. Kathleen is a full-time mom, and an Executive for Young Living Essential Oils, who loves nothing more than snuggles with her little one and coffee dates with good friends. We asked her how she’s living well today, and here’s what she shared…

How do you typically start your day?

Typically I start each day with the same routine. After grabbing my daughter, I head downstairs to let my two pups out. Once all 3 of my girls have been fed, I make myself a latte using my espresso machine (seriously the best thing I’ve ever bought since becoming a mom). Then, I start my oils diffuser and sit down to answer all my emails and messages for work.

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

Definitely meal prep and making sure I have tons of easy, healthy snacks on hand at all times. I try to grocery shop when I’ve already eaten, so that all the food options in my house are being fresh and healthy.

What has been your most effective outlet for stress relief as a new Mom?

If we’re being honest, essential oils and scheduling down time for myself have totally changed my life. We are a pretty “all-natural” family and these two combined really make me feel like myself again.

I am a night owl, so once my daughter goes to bed around 8:30PM, I take the next few hours to get back to my “to-do’s” which makes me feel more organized. I often end up doing laundry and household chores at midnight, so that when I wake up in the morning, my home is tidy and clean and I don’t feel anxious.

I love to diffuse citrus oils when I’m working around the house because they always help with my energy and productivity and the scent is such a fresh bonus.

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

So much more myself then I ever thought was possible. We waited a really long time for my daughter, and every day I feel grateful to spend my days with her. I’m very lucky to work from home, so it’s been so much fun to experience every part of her life. She makes me want to work harder than I ever have, and live healthier than I ever have, because I don’t want to miss out on anything!

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

Did I mention, I’m kind of an essential oils freak? I LIVE for my diffuser and apply Frankincense oil on my wrists every day to keep me grounded and relaxed.

Another thing I really love is water. Is that a wellness product? I hope so, because being a mom is so much work, and breastfeeding takes a lot out of you…so I constantly have my stainless steel tervis by my side filled with ice water to stay hydrated.

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

My brother-in-law is so intentional with the foods that he eats—he made me these energy bites once, and I now eat them constantly. They are SO easy and filling, and great to grab out of the fridge when your crunched on time with a baby.

Recipe:

  • 2 cups oatmeal
  • 1 cup of your choice of nut butter
  • 1/4 cup honey, 2 tbsp chia seeds, splash of vanilla
  • 1 tbsp of coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips. (I have started to add flax seed meal now that I’m breastfeeding) I mix all of this up and roll into small bites and store in the fridge!

What’s some candid advice you’d like to share with a fellow New Mama?

Find some Mom Friends! I know that sounds silly, but they make all the difference. They are the ones who will text you back at night when you’re worried, or encourage you to get out of the house for a walk at the park when you are stir crazy, or stuff your purse with granola bars to make sure you’re eating.

My main circle of Mom friends has truly made me feel like I’m awesome every day, and every mom deserves that!

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Sleep Hygiene 101: How to Honor Yourself & Improve Sleep

Guest Contributor: Jodie Buonopane Freid

Mom And Kid

There was a time not too long ago that I couldn’t even take my own advice: take time for yourself, sleep, exercise, and recalibrate while you can, while the baby is sleeping, while the kids are at daycare and you left work two hours early, while at Grammy Mimi’s house and she is watching them, while your husband has them out at the park…but, as the laundry piled up and the floor went un-swept, my sleep-deprived, baby-brained mind steered me in the direction of tightening up the ship.

When you feel like you’ve lost all control, all sense of self, who you once knew you were (pre-baby), and haven’t quite figured out that your new self (post-baby) still matters, still has needs, and still deserves care, well, this is what happens.

In retrospect, I remember reading this advice in all of the articles and books on raising children: “Let those dishes sit!”, “Rest, rest, rest!” So, how can I convince you to take that advice and not look back in six or nine years and wish that you had?

Let me explain the repercussions of sleep deprivation from a professional and personal standpoint:

Lack of sleep for a night or two is tolerable, going three nights and beyond becomes risky.  A new or seasoned mother is no undemanding job, let alone if mom is also working outside of the home, and keeping up with her role as a daughter, sister, wife, or whatever! In the absence of adequate sleep, a mother can find herself weepy, moody, angry, resentful, disengaged, detached and feeling like “no one understands how tired I really am”, “everyone else gets to sleep all night without being interrupted”, or “my husband gets to sleep, go to work, and eat his meals uninterrupted”.

On the severe end of the sleep deprivation spectrum, a mother can experience hallucinations ranging from visual to auditory in nature, in the absence of any major mental illness. This is scary and eye-opening, no pun intended! Add additional vulnerabilities (i.e., mental illness, psychosocial stressors, financial, single motherhood, etc.) and you’re in for a very rocky road.

Have you ever gone to lay your head on your pillow in a silent darkened house, while everyone is “sleeping like a baby”, and no sooner you hear the cries of your infant? You get up and go check on him/her and…it’s completely silent, baby is bottoms-up, cheek pressed into their crib mattress, eyes a-flittering as they’re in dreamland and you shake your head as you walk back to bed.  Only the same thing keeps happening?

This is not only common, but it’s okay, you are not losing your mind or going crazy, you are not an unfit mother, you are simply exhausted and your brain is trying to tell you so.

But, how do you control it? How do you make that stuff stop? How do you just…go to sleep?

It all starts proactively (not, reactively):

Remember how it’s never a good idea to try to reason with someone who is screaming at us? Because reasoning during an irrational time is not productive.  The same thing applies to self-care: if you try to tell your brain to “just go to sleep” during a misfiring of your brain (i.e., hearing baby cry when baby is not crying), it does not work.

You must practice: answer your body’s needs when they’re calling you (bathroom, hungry, thirsty, headache), take 15-minutes while baby is playing in their playpen (all babies and kids benefit from quiet self-play time) and do a mindfulness, meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, you get the idea! Take a 30-45 minute nap when baby is sleeping.  Chores will always be there, your mind may not!  “I’m losing my mind!” many mothers’ exclaim!

Now let me share some best practices on how to improve the quality and quantity of your sleep (“sleep hygiene”): When baby is in a good pattern and reality allows:

  1. Get into a routine: day and night (go to bed around the same time every night)
  2. Do not drink beverages past ____; you set the time (i.e., 8:00pm if you go to bed at 10:00pm)
  3. Do not turn the TV on to fall asleep to (even if it’s on mute)
  4. Use the bed for sleeping and intimacy only (so your brain associates bed with sleep)
  5. Do not use your phone in bed (research shows that “both mental activity and light exposure promote wakefulness”, www.sleepfoundation.org)
  6. Turn any digital clocks facing away from you (so you do not constantly wake up to check the time and count down to how much more time you have to sleep before you have to be up)
  7. Do not exercise too close to bedtime
  8. If you can’t sleep for 15-30 minutes, try getting out of bed and doing something low-key without bright light or noise and return to bed when you feel tired
  9. If keeping a baby monitor on your nightstand means you’re checking it every two minutes, give it to your husband
  10. Do not jump out of bed at every noise your baby makes (allowing him to fall back asleep on his own is good for baby and mama)
  11. Lastly, try listening to your breath (literally, tune your ears in to the sound that your breathing makes, in and out), and notice how you cannot multi-task, it’ll tune out racing thoughts for you, it’ll promote “thought stopping”, it’ll slow down your heartrate).  If feeling up for the challenge for additional payoff, add a visual to your imagination (i.e., waves crashing, a leaf [your bad thoughts] flowing down a stream [and going away]).

Don’t Forget:

  • You are good enough
  • Mistakes are normal
  • Chores will always be there
  • Sleep and self-care matter so that you can be the best mom that will make you feel good (when you don’t take care of yourself, good feelings don’t coincide and regrettable behaviors (think: yelling all the time, slamming doors, fighting with partner, crying constantly) often follow suit.
  • You can’t turn back time or erase guilt
  • It’s hard to make change and believe that self-care is important but it’s better to endure temporary stress in your efforts to make this change happen—than to endure lifelong guilt and memories (or worse) for not making this change happen.

You can do it, you do matter, and you’re a wonderful role-model for your children.


About our Guest Contributor:

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Jodie Buonopane Freid is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor living and working outside of Boston, Ma.  Jodie is in private practice specializing in women’s care and general adult mental health.  Whether in the trenches of parenthood or not, Jodie’s passion lies in supporting women to remember that they matter, too.  Self-care, mindfulness, relaxation and stress reduction, exercise and nutrition, and teaching ways to improve sleep are her areas of passion and expertise.  Jodie is also a mother, wife, and animal lover who enjoys spending time with her two boys, making art, being outdoors, and taking care of her four pets (a dog, two cats, and a Russian Tortoise).  Jodie spends her “me time” doing pure barre, growing her practice, and writing or creating something!

CONTACT INFORMATION: 

Fall Smoothie: Pumpkin Spice & Everything Nice!

Guest Contributor: Vanessa Merlo Lewis

pumpkin smoothieIf you are a new mom (or a veteran mom), you both have a common denominator…You’re always busy!

Eating healthy can be challenging. You are always thinking of healthy and nutritious meals for your kids, but forget to do the same for yourself, I get it!

This smoothie recipe is not only healthy, but also quick and easy to prepare. You can even meal prep for the week and freeze each portion in zip lock bags.

That way, you can meal plan just once and have your smoothies ready to go! Best part is, for our mamas with toddlers, you can share with your little one (so long as they don’t have any nut allergies!).

The Ultimate Fall Smoothie Recipe

  • 1 cup of milk of choice: (Almond, Coconut, Hemp, Cow)
  • ½ cup Pumpkin puree
  • ½ banana
  • ¼ cup oats
  • 1-tablespoon nut butter
  • 1-teaspoon cinnamon
  • Possible Add ons: Chia seeds/ Hemp seeds/ maple syrup/ protein powder

Directions:

  • Place each ingredient into the blender. Mix until smooth and liquid.
  • To add texture and make thicker: Add ice

Nutrition Facts:

  • Serving size: 1
  • Calories per serving: ~230
  • Fat: ~11.5g
  • Carbs: ~28.5g
  • Protein: ~6g

About Our Guest Contributor

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Vanessa Merlo has been a part of the Boston health and fitness industry for nine years. Her passion for the business began in college, where she graduated from Suffolk University with a BSBA in Marketing. During her junior year, she started her own weight loss journey. She made a promise to herself right then and there. She would devote her time and energy to lose weight while learning how to sustain a clean, healthy life style. By doing so she lost 80lbs and stayed committed to a healthy lifestyle.

Her journey would take time to develop.  After graduating with a business degree, she went off into the corporate world. Realizing this career was not her passion; she quit her job, followed her heart and became a personal trainer and nutrition coach.

Vanessa continues to take classes, gain certifications and educate herself on this ever-revolving industry. She is a Board Certified Holistic Health Coach through IIN, along with Kettlebells, Pre-post Natal, TRX ,  and Crossfit certifications. She knows the healthiest, most natural way to lose weight and keep it off.

While honoring her craft and sharing her knowledge with others, she lost an astounding 110lbs. That promise she made years before came to fruition. Now, her goal is simple. Help those in need to begin their health and wellness journey. Her mission: Inspire and coach others to live a healthier life through food and fitness.

Contact Information:

 

 

Self-Care: The Importance of “ME Time”

Guest Contributor: Liz Sarantopoulos, MSW, LICSW

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Liz Sarantopoulos is a social worker living and working outside of Boston, MA. Liz helps strengthen emotional wellness in new mom’s by helping them achieve balance in their busy and stressful everyday lives. Liz is a wife, mother, and dog lover. She enjoys going on long walks with her beagle (Charlie), taking spinning & yoga classes, and baking cupcakes.  Liz has an adventurous spirit and loves discovering new places both near and far.

As I sit here drinking my second cup of coffee, watching little E play with her toys and our dog, Charlie, taking his first early morning nap, I realize that my self-care went flying out the window last week.

I feel sluggish, this granola bar is not taming the rumbles coming from my stomach, and I can’t remember a moment in the past few days where I wasn’t thinking about my family, patients, or planning for the upcoming week.

What do most of us do when this happens? We “mommy on”, ignoring the signs that our well-being has taken some hits and we’re running low on superhero juice.

Self-care is so incredibly important, but it’s also easy to let slide when you’ve got a lot going on. I always remind my patients to build in a little time each day for self-care, for “Me Time”. Studies show, that 10-15 minutes’ worth of self-care can greatly improve your mood and energy levels. Here are some tips:

Move Your Body

Research suggests that exercise helps relieves stress and can improve your mood, so get up and move around! Attend a spin class at the gym, do yoga while you catch up on the news, or transform mommy and me time into a workout!

Fresh Air

Fall is one of the best times of year here in New England.  Open the windows, take a stroll through a pumpkin patch, pick some apples, or just drink your pumpkin spiced latte outside. Experience the cool, crisp air on your face. I promise, it will make you feel better.

Eat Well

The saying “you are what you eat” is not a joke. When you take the time to plan your grocery list with healthy foods and meal plans, you feel better. Make this a regularly habit. Spend some time planning healthy, wholesome meals for you and your family.

Meditate

Silencing the mind is a difficult task, and when you constantly have a to-do list running through my head, it’s tough to truly feel relaxed.  For me, I find that meditating 10-15 minutes a night before going to bed helps me sleep better. If you struggle sitting in silence, try downloading a mediation app for your phone.  My favorites are Headspace and Buddhify.

Mama Time

Being a mom is one of the hardest, yet most rewarding jobs.  It’s important (with every job) to take a little time for yourself.  Schedule that manicure or haircut you have been wanting.  Take an hour to yourself to do something that you want to do.  Step out, regroup, decompress, and come back as a refreshed and relaxed mama.

Plan It Out

If you’re struggling to incorporate self-care into your life, try setting a reminder in your phone.  You can also make a sticky note or add it to your daily schedule (you’ll feel proud that you accomplished something when you cross it off your to-do list!). How ever you do it, make it a priority to yourself and your mental health.

Being a mom is hard work. Sometimes bad days, weeks, or even months get the best of us. Remember your self-care when times are tough. It will help you through the hard times and possibly even help you see things a little differently.

And don’t forget mama, you are worth it!