How Do YOU Move Through Life?

Guest Contributor: Jodie Buonopane Freid

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Dancers dance through life | Singers sing through life | Comedians joke through life | Chefs cook through life | Artists draw through life…

How do you move through life?

I personally do arts and crafts for sanity! I’m always thinking about drawing, doodling, painting, creating, crafting, scrapbooking, framing, or decorating.  Every experience in my life, I can visualize as a form of art (cartooning a stressful interpersonal interaction I’ve had, making a silly comic book from a bizarre idea my toddler had, drawing exaggerated reenactments of a near fender-bender today).  

So, I wanted to share some fun ideas to anyone who also likes to explore their creativity.  If it’s not art you like, use these ideas to imagine however you move through life and doing more of that.

Why, you may ask? It’s uplifting, relaxing, enticing, distracting, and catchy.  Bring the kids into it!  They love to make a mess, feel proud of what they make, it provides a good bonding opportunity, creates great memories, and so much more!

Here are some ideas to start with:

  • You know how you get a lot of flyers, magazines, and ads in the mail? Keep them, store them in a box or basket and use that paper as a recyclable table cover for messy arts and crafts.  Use the magazines for creating vision boards, motivation posters, etc.
  • Organize your arts and crafts supplies. Recycle decorative boxes that your Harry and David gift came in from your in-laws. Label what’s inside with a sharpie. Store them on a shelf in the basement or a closet. When things are organized, they’re more available and enticing.
  • If you have a hard time thinking creatively but want to try, go with the seasons.
  • Fall has many themes, acorns (collect them, cover in glue, and roll them around in glitter, set to dry, and fill an empty mason jar), apples (cut in half and make apple stamp prints with paint), leaves (place a sheet of paper over a leaf and color over it with crayon and see what happens), pumpkins, make paper bats with black construction paper at Halloween, create turkeys and more.  
  • Winter introduces icicles, snowflakes, snowmen, clouds, mittens, hats, scarfs, boots, sleds, skis, igloos, snow forts, ice skates, hot cocoa, holly bushes, holiday lights, Christmas trees, wreaths, menorahs, cardinals, and more.
  • Spring brings blossoms, seeds, flowers, grass, color, sun, rain, umbrellas, bunnies, squirrels, ground hogs, bees, honey, chicks, eggs, birds and nests to name a few.
  • Summer invites warmth, sunshine, blue skies, pools, beaches, balls, sports, picnics, bathing suits, fireworks, popsicles, ice cream, and BBQ’s for starters.

Imagine all of the crafts that you can make with your kids when you keep these themes in mind. Stuck, just check out pinterest.com for inspirational visuals.

For Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD):

  • Are the gray cloudy, sunless days getting to you? Do you find yourself wearing colors that match these days (muted, grays, blacks, blues, whites)?
  • Go through your closet and organize some of your favorite pieces by color, creating a rainbow in your closet. That is color that you will be guaranteed to see every day and maybe you’ll choose something more colorful!
  • Make your snacks and lunches colorful.  Create a container of carrots, cucumbers, colored peppers and hummus or ranch.  See http://www.rainbowplate.com/#home.
  • Got a window in your house or office? Go to Michael’s or AC Moore and buy some “window markers”. Get your little artist, or yourself, or both of you to create a mural on one of the windows.  Imagine a pretty sunset or a bright big happy sun with some tulips or a beach scene!
  • Make a snowman and put a colorful scarf on her!

I hope that these ideas inspired you to live your life through however you move!

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!

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Merry & Bright, Or Not?

Guest Contributor: Jodie Buonopane Freid

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The chaos of the holiday season, paired with life’s unexpected twists and turns for many, can make the whole idea of “Merry & Bright” feel like a farce.  A sheer Christmas song can send tears rolling down anyone’s cheek.  A whiff of your favorite soup your grandmother used to make can slip you back into sorrow.  A depleted guest list for your holiday dinner might feel crushing or embarrassing.  Negativity and sadness speaks to so many people during the holidays, and it often goes unnoticed…or even worse—judged.  

Whether it be a family conflict, illness, or grieving the loss of a loved one, suffering can pinch harder right now. Life’s challenges can be a tough lump to swallow and because of that, it can be awfully hard to contain this time of year. The obligatory cheerful socializing with others (whether it’s strangers at the store, family, friends, colleagues, bosses, clients, or neighbors) can negatively influence your mood.  People are more vulnerable during the holidays, and this is understandable.

If you are lucky enough, however, to have an elevated spirit this time of the year, it’s important to recognize that you might be sharing the holiday at some point with a friend, coworker or family member who isn’t able to “be okay” right now.  We must remember that no one is immune to life’s realities, and tucking them away for the sake of everyone else isn’t always a possibility.  

Life does not pause and emotions do not go into hibernation just because “It’s the most wonderful time of the year” came on the radio. So how can you have a holly jolly Christmas, a happy Hanukkah, or a peaceful kwanza, if you’re not feeling merry and bright?

It’s up to all of us to make sure that we first and foremost take excellent care of ourselves holistically. From there, you will be most capable of spreading your love, light, and kindness to others from a place of empathy and healing.  

Self-care is tremendously important, especially during the holidays, and I encourage you to make your own personal wellness (physically, mentally and emotionally) a top priority as we leave 2017 behind us.

A few self-care tips to close out the year:

  • Get a good night’s sleep
  • Take time for yourself to do something that makes you feel GOOD.
  • Process your own emotions, talk to someone you can trust.
  • Keep grievances for another time.  If you haven’t aired them yet, do it privately, not in a group setting.
  • Be considerate, you never know the battles that someone else is fighting behind closed doors.
  • Slow down and be genuinely grateful for the positive things in your life.
  • Don’t take everyone’s emotions personally, while support is important, being a punching bag is not your responsibility.
  • Do not offer your parenting advice to your daughter-in-law (she’s got this).
  • Practice respectable personal boundaries.
  • Make your to-do lists ahead of time and keep them visible.
  • Choose smart times of the day to shop or do it online to save yourself the headache.
  • Try something new to relieve stress and anxiety (i.e., place a large grocery order with Peapod, it’s worth the extra $10 fee sometimes).
  • Ask for help when you need it, rather than blow up later about things that could have been avoided.
  • Say “No” (you don’t have to go to everyone’s house in one day).
  • Spread the holidays out over more than one day.
  • Don’t stretch yourself too much financially, follow a strict budget and stick to it. Your bank account will thank you in the new year!
  • Remember that gift-giving is not a competition (a small, thoughtful, and/or homemade gift exhibits love just the same as any other, and they’re often more appreciated).

Most of all, follow your intuition, remember your worth, and treat others with the same kindness and compassion that you would hope for from others. 

May your days be Merry & Bright year round and never forget, Love is all around us.

About The 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!

How To: ENJOY the Holidays More.

Guest Contributor: Jodie Buonopane Freid

Woman holding christmas giftsDo you ever feel like the holidays are a whirlwind? Like you’re caught up in all the hustle and bustle and then, all of a sudden, they’re over? You’re like, what just happened? How did they come and go, so fast?

And, sadly, for some people, they feel like it was so much work and took so much out of them.  This happens to many of us.  We live in a fast-paced, over-indulgent, instant gratification society and it’s funny how we’ve adjusted our expectations to meet that.  Stop and think about that for a moment.

In today’s day and age, we have a couple of liberties we can use to our advantage to better manage it all:  technology and mindfulness!  If we learn to use each of these to our benefit, especially at this time of the year, then perhaps we can view our cell phones and tablets as a gift than a curse!  Give yourself a holiday gift by considering the following:

Online shopping:

  • There is no better time to utilize your phone to download a stores’ app and at the click of a few buttons you may find what you need for the holidays.  Added bonus? Depending on where you shop, you may get below market prices with free and speedy shipping.  
  • It’s an ultra-convenient way to squeeze in some shopping without the stress, without hiring a sitter to watch the kids, and avoiding the traffic and tension in the stores.  When you do your shopping, take time to enjoy it by either carving out time to shop in your calendar, distraction free or allow yourself to be immersed for the five or ten minutes you do spend in between other parts of your day.  Just don’t do it while driving, sitting in traffic, or at a red light 😊.  Do it without multi-tasking.  
  • But don’t you still want to go out in to the stores, experience the music and get in the holiday spirit? If you do, consider using a personal day off from work to go shopping early, not only early in the day, but early in the season- before the rush sets in.  That would be….right about NOW!
  • Whichever route you take, cross some items off your to-do list later that day.  It’ll bring closure to things pending on your list/mind/causing you to fret and stress with “so much to do”.
  • Apply these tips to even your grocery shopping (go when they first open or right before they close, avoid high-traffic times like mid-day weekends).  
  • This all will create room for you to enjoy the season so much more.  Life goes by fast enough, our kids grow up too fast, slow it down by being present.

Now, how do we apply being mindful to our lives at this busy time of the year?  Let me help you by breaking it down in some simple steps:

  • First, mindfulness in its’ simplest terms means being “present” (there’s a lot of present and gift talk here in my blog today!).
  • Being present means simply tuning in to only what you are doing using your five senses.  You will enhance memory, feel more relaxed and in control, and enjoy more positive than negative to the experience.  Try wrapping a few gifts while tuning in to how the wrapping paper sounds, feels, and looks as you have it in your hands.  Let distractions come and go (mindfully visualize pushing the distraction away).  Take this time and devote what you can to it.
  • It does not mean to multitask.  But, we’ve all been there, doing things that are mundane automatically.  I’ve heard people say, “how else will we get everything done in a day”?  It’s the society we live in.  But, you do have control over how you spend your time.  It’s not about not having enough time, it’s about reshuffling how you spend your time.  
  • Mindfulness takes practice.  Set your timer for a few minutes in a quiet pleasant space and think of a pleasant image or memory and just take it in.  This proactive practice serves a few purposes: 1.) it allows you to wind down and enjoy some quiet time, 2.) it allows you to feel the relaxing benefit afterwards, and 3.) it provides positive reinforcement for you to consider adding more of these moments to your life.    
  • When distractions knock on your door, and they will, then imagine sweeping them away with a broom and coming right back to the image/memory or whatever you are trying to be mindful at.  Moments of mindfulness can deliver days of decompression.  
  • Notice how you feel afterwards and what the experience was like for you.  If it was hard, it will get easier.  If it was emotional, that is ok.  The emotions may have needed to come out.  Keep practicing, don’t give up.  A little positive self-change is better than no change at all.  You deserve this.   

Stay tuned for Holidays and Emotions that rise at this time of the year.

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: 

 

The Juggle is Real.

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Guest Contributor: Vanessa Merlo Lewis

We hear it all the time: “There are not enough hours in the day!”

And I totally agree—motherhood is a constant, challenging balancing act to juggle time spent on family, friends and career.

Every mother experiences some sort of guilt, especially in the beginning, about not being able to commit 100% to any facet of her life.

Many of us set the bar to be the “perfect” parent, and when we (naturally) don’t meet those unrealistic expectations of superhero time management, we feel like we’re failing everyone, including ourselves.

We know that it is crucial to have “me time” set aside, a commitment to spending time away from the kids with our girlfriends, or a romantic date night with our spouse.

I encourage you to add your own personal physical wellness to that bucket of essential “me time” to re-set, relax, reflect and rejuvenate.

Below are a few manageable “Me time” activities that you can accomplish in under 10 minutes, that are significant and just for YOU:

  • Wake up 10 minutes before your family arises and have a cup of coffee alone to set your own intentions for the day
  • Download the app HeadSpace and do a quick 10-minute meditation in your living room before your kids wake up, during nap-time or after bedtime. They even have one for moms!
  • Once a month, plan a fun girls’ night out with friends
  • Once a week, plan at least 60 minutes of (real) alone time with your significant other
  • Try this quick and easy no-equipment-needed workout that you can literally do anywhere:

    4 sets of 20 reps:
    Squats
    Jumping jacks
    Push ups
    Bridges
    Sit ups
    Tricep dips off chair
    Jumping jacks
    Alternating backward lunges
    High knees
    Butt kicks

Happy Mama = Happy Baby!

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:

Thanksgiving: A Time of Gratitude

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Guest Contributor: Liz Sarantopoulos, MSW, LICSW

Every year on Thanksgiving, we gather with our friends and family to share a delicious meal together. We spend countless hours searching Pinterest for the perfect apple cider sangria, or how to brine and cook a turkey. With each saved pin, we’re making a silent vow to host a celebration that’s bigger and better than years past. We put so much time and energy into making it a “perfect day”, that we forget the true meaning of Thanksgiving. We forget that it’s a time to show Gratitude towards others.

With that in mind, I want to challenge all of you reading this. As you’re planning this year’s gathering, I challenge you to be thoughtful in the ways you show gratitude to your loved ones. Small acts of kindness go a long way.

So instead of planning an elaborate meal (you can purchase one at Whole Foods), plan small ways to show your appreciation.

Need help coming up with ideas?  Try one of these:

Do Something Thoughtful

Is your sister-in-law hosting dinner? Offer to clean up the dishes when everyone is done eating. Encourage her to sit and relax with a glass of wine (or a big piece of chocolate pie) while you tackle the dirty dishes in the kitchen.

Write a Thank-You Note

Does your mother watch your children during the week? Mail her a note that shares all of the ways in which you love and appreciate her. Make sure to let her know how much your children cherish their special time with Grandma.

Personalized Appreciation

Try adding a little note to each plate setting, telling your guest how their love and friendship has impacted your family’s year.

Be Patient and Kind

Does your 5-year-old insist on helping with the holiday prep? Take the time to teach her about the family recipes.  Be patient and supportive of the big mess she makes while adding the flour for Aunt Mary’s pie crust.

Smile and Be Friendly

Is your brother bringing his new girlfriend for Thanksgiving dinner? New SOs or guests are going to be naturally timid and shy at a family gathering. Greet them with a big, warm smile and let them know they are welcomed in your home.

I hope this inspires you to incorporate a few small acts of kindness and gratitude into your holiday celebrations. Think of it as starting a new tradition for your family. Share your acts of appreciation here! We’d love to see what other ideas folks come up with to say Thank You.

About Liz Sarantopoulos

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.

 

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!

Sleep Hygiene 101: How to Honor Yourself & Improve Sleep

Guest Contributor: Jodie Buonopane Freid

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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!

 

August Movin’ Mama: Katie

Meet Katie!

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Congrats to Katie on her August nomination as our featured Movin’ Mama! Katie is a 31-year-old new mom to her 3-month-old baby girl (who is absolutely gorgeous!). When she’s not spending time at home with her new little one and her husband, she’s working as an ABA Therapist, providing in-home services for children on the autism spectrum, or riding horses and hanging at the barn!

How do you typically start and finish your day?

My day usually starts pretty early. My daughter is almost sleeping through the night, but most days is up to eat around 5:00-6:00am. I’ll feed and change her and then she’ll go back to sleep for another two or three hours. Sometimes I use that time to eat my breakfast and have some coffee in the calm and quiet. Other times, if I’m feeling extra tired, I’ll go back to sleep with her. I don’t function well on little sleep, so if I need those extra hours, I take them!

My day ends around 8:00-9:00pm when Keira goes to bed. After she’s in bed, I’ll eat dinner if I didn’t get a chance to while she was awake. This is my time to just veg out on the couch and catch up on all my good (bad) TV…usually Housewives or Food Network.

My love for wine is just as big as my love for coffee. Theres nothing quite like a glass of rosé, sweatpants and a comfy couch at the end of the day. I usually try and get into bed by 10:30pm.

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

I’ve had two challenges: The first was finding the motivation to get out of the house and get moving. Our first few weeks at home was such a learning experience for us. The early days of breastfeeding were difficult, she would eat all day it seemed. It was hard to make a plan to get out of the house. Then one day, my husband and I decided to walk to a bagel shop down the street from us to get some breakfast. It was such a game changer for me mentally. I realized we really needed to get out of the house more often. I needed to get out and move my body, even if all I did was a leisurely walk up and down the street.

The second challenge has been my diet. While I was pregnant, I was extremely nauseous for the first 20 weeks of my pregnancy, so I had ZERO appetite. Then during the second half of my pregnancy when I started enjoying food again, I didn’t have room to eat a lot in one sitting.

Since the birth of my daughter my appetite has come back with a vengeance. At first, I was eating whatever I craved, usually a lot of take out just because it was easy for us. I noticed my weight was creeping back up, which surprised me. Over the past few weeks, my husband and I have really made an effort to meal plan at the beginning of the week. It has made a huge difference!

Are you exercising much these days? If so, what’s your go-to workout?

I honestly haven’t been exercising much. It’s one of those things I know I should do, but finding the time and motivation is tough some days. My go-to workout these days is walking.

I try to get out everyday, weather depending. It’s great to get out of the house and get some fresh air. It is also great for my baby, I’m a big fan of change in scenery, especially on fussy days. She really loves the walks, too!

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

I love all the amazing moms I’ve been lucky enough to connect with throughout my pregnancy. This “job” truly takes a village, and I feel fortunate to have some great people around me to support me on this crazy new journey.

I also absolutely adore my daughter (of course), and watching her smile and laugh just melts my heart!

Name three wellness/beauty-related products you cannot live without right now.

What is one healthy meal that you like to cook at home?

I have to admit that I’m not the biggest chef, my husband actually does most of the cooking. One healthy dish that I do like to make is a quinoa salad.

It’s a great summer side dish and really filling. It’s a mix of quinoa, cucumbers, red onion, cherry tomatoes and feta cheese drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice. Super quick, easy and delish!

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

When I need some “Me” time, I usually head to the barn. I’m fortunate that my mother lives close by, so I can drop my little one off with her and head to the barn to see my horse.

It’s such a peaceful space that really helps me to decompress. I don’t even have to ride when I go, sometimes it’s just as relaxing to take my horse out for some grass and enjoy the quiet. Riding is great exercise though, and I love to ride when I can!

What’s your biggest wish for your baby?

My biggest wish for my baby is for her to grow up with kindness and compassion in her heart. I wish for her to feel it everyday and for her to share it with the world.

Anyone special you’d like to thank for helping you through motherhood so far?

There are actually four people that deserve a HUGE thank you. First is my husband, he supports me in anything and everything, and loves our baby and me unconditionally. It is because of him that I’ve been able to take an extended maternity leave, and for that I will always be grateful. I know that I’m very fortunate to be able to do so.

Second is my mother, I don’t think we’ve ever been as close as we are now. She has been a huge help with my daughter. She is always willing to babysit so I can have that much needed “Me” time. I always say the reason I’m still sane is because I have her in my life!

The third and fourth people are the amazing women of Rising Tide, Lindsay Miller and Liz Libby. Linsday is my rockstar doula who was by my side through a 32-hour labor.

She’s been an invaluable source of advice, information and never-ending support now that I’m a new mother. Liz is my lactation consultant who I give full credit for my success with breastfeeding. Having her only a text/phone call away has been amazing. The support that they have given to me is something I truly cherish.