June Movin’ Mama: Dina

PicsArt_06-20-12.41.36

We are super excited to share best practices from Dina this month, who was nominated to be our June Movin’ Mama—congrats girl! Dina is a single Mama of two beautiful little ones (Daughter, Age 9; Son, Age 8) residing in a small seaside town outside of Boston, working as a Nanny. We asked Dina how she’s Living Well today, and here’s what she told us…

How do you typically start your weekdays?

I wake up at 6am to get a jump start on the day, and try to get the kids ready for school and out the door in time to make the bus. But most days we end up rushing, no matter how early we wake up! Sometimes, if we’re uncharacteristically early, we’ll do some yoga “sun salutations” before heading off to school/work.

As a busy mama, how often do you make time for exercise and what’s your favorite workout today?

As much as I’ve tried to be, I’m not much of a gym person. Aside from the occasional trip to the YMCA with the kids, most of my exercise is in/around our home. The kids and I do yoga at least a couple times a week together. We are fortunate to live by the beach, so swimming and walks to the lighthouse are pretty common as well.

What has been your biggest challenge with wellness this year thus far?

I’d say my biggest challenge with wellness would be resisting delicious restaurants/take out meals in favor of cooking at home. Cooking and eating healthy are definitely passions of mine, but resisting the temptation of eating out at all the amazing restaurants nearby can be a challenge. I try to hit the farmers markets early in the week and stock up on fresh produce, that way I’m motivated to cook before it goes bad.

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

What I love most about being a mom is growing and learning alongside my children. They truly are our greatest teachers. I became a mom at 21, and it has made me a better person in so many ways. Not only do I get to nurture them, teach them and watch them grow, but I also get to learn from them and see the growth in myself as well.

What has been your most effective best practice for relieving stress?

As a single mom, life can get pretty hectic and stressful at times. Luckily my amazing partner Derek is always there to support me and the kids.

In our family, we’ve practiced yoga and meditation since the kids were babies. We like to relax after a stressful day by walking down to the beach, sitting on the seawall and watching the sunset. The kids and I will say what we’re thankful for, and then set our worries out into the ocean. This is part of our regular practice in cultivating positive energy and letting go of stress and worries.

What are some things you’re doing to ensure life balance?

I try to maintain a healthy balance by prioritizing family and fun whenever possible. Sometimes this means leaving a pile of dirty dishes in the sink so that we can all snuggle up and watch a movie together for the first time in ages.

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

Along with most mom’s, I rarely get much “Me Time”. But when I do, I usually end up at Marshalls or the mall (buying things for my kids!) After the kids are in bed (if I don’t fall asleep immediately) I get to watch a little TV, or read before going to bed myself. It’s the little things!

What is one piece of candid advice you’d like to share with other new moms who are expecting their first child?

My advice would be that there is no one “right” way to do anything. What works for one mom may not work for another.

Do what works best for you and your baby. Don’t feel pressured to do things perfectly or the way everyone else is doing them. Pregnancy, birth, and raising your little one is a uniquely individual experience.

Even with your own children, one sibling can be a totally different experience from the next. Go with the flow. Cut yourself some slack and do what best suits you and your baby’s needs… And never forget how amazing you are!

Advertisements

May Movin’ Mama: Taylar

MEET TAYLAR!Colangelo, Taylor - Feature Photo

Congratulations to Taylar for landing our May feature as our newest Movin’ Mama!

Taylar is 28 years old, residing in sunny Florida with her husband and 10 month-old baby girl. She is also 18 weeks along with Baby #2 (it’s a boy, so exciting!). When she’s not enjoying time with family or gardening, she’s working hard as a Dialysis Nurse. 

We asked Taylar how she’s living well today, and here’s what she shared…

How do you typically start your day?

Nothing too exciting, just get the baby ready for daycare and then I head off to work. I usually try to drink a whole bottle of water during the 30-minute car ride to work since I am trying to stay hydrated more lately.

Do you attend a local gym? If not, how are you staying active?

I have a gym at my community center, but sadly have only used it once! Thankfully I have a dog to walk everyday; plus I run around at work all day as a nurse, so I have no problem getting my steps in!

My family also spends almost every weekend walking around Disney World so we get a lot of exercise in then, considering how large the parks are.

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

I recently started an herb garden in my backyard, so I am obsessed with roasting vegetables with fresh rosemary. Yum!

My favorite healthy meal is to roast sweet potatoes, red and yellow peppers, and onions in the oven tossed in EVOO with salt, pepper, garlic powder, dry Italian seasoning, and fresh rosemary from my garden.

I then cook ground turkey in a pan and toss it all together with a little bit of mozzarella cheese. It’s sooooo yummy! Plus I always have leftovers to pack for lunch at work.

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

My favorite “Me” time is spent with my friends at our “book club,” which is more like a wine club. I also recently have gotten into gardening and I really enjoy cooking. I love to try new, healthy recipes. I will be starting Nurse Practitioner school in 1 month so I assume my “me” time will have to go on the backburner for a bit, but I am okay with that to advance my career!

Name one wellness goal for 2017 and how you plan to track your progress.

My main wellness goal for 2017 is to not gain too much weight with baby #2 to avoid high blood pressure late in pregnancy.

When I got pregnant this time around, I still had 8 pounds on from baby #1 since I was only 6 months postpartum. Keeping this in mind, I am trying to be very careful. So far I am doing better weight wise than I was during my last pregnancy, even though I started with a higher weight, so I am happy with that!

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

My biggest wellness challenge since having my daughter is figuring out what weight loss plan works best for me. I tried everything in the book to lose weight after having my daughter including a diet called THM, keto (super low carb), shakes, eating smaller meals more frequently, sugar-free diet. I finally find what eating style works best for me after much experimentation.

I am now in love with intermittent fasting, which is something people have practiced for years but is recently gaining some popularity. Some benefits of IF are increase of HGH levels, reduces insulin levels, cellular repair, and gene expression (which protects you from cancer). Here is a more detailed article providing evidence based research on the practice.

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

My family. I want my husband and children to be healthy, so I think it is important to learn as much as I can about food, and practice a healthy lifestyle myself to show my children the way.

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

I honestly love…Everything!

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

My advice would be to conduct your own research on different lifestyle practices that YOU are interested in. There are a lot of health myths that people believe because they have heard it so many times, but they may not necessarily be right for you.

April Movin’ Mama: Lauren

MEET LAUREN!

Lauren resides in Cohasset, MA with her husband & three children (Daughters Ages 2 & 7; Son Age 5). Lauren is the Founder and President of not one, but TWO not-for-profits, both focused on women’s networking and mentoring, and is a Board member for the March of Dimes, Family Advisory Council, MA Department of Public Health, & Palliative Care Network,

How do you typically start your weekdays?

I typically start my day with one child sandwiched between me and my husband in bed….and we usually get about 4 hours of uninterrupted sleep before someone is crying for us.

We have a PCA a few times a week (my son is severally disabled and handicapped)…so, she comes first thing in the morning to help get him fed and dressed for school while I run around like a crazy person getting the girls up and out of the house.

My husband calls me “hurricane Lauren” because I come downstairs in the morning and move at warp speed.  I could never be one of those moms that wakes up super early and sips her coffee and reads the paper, makes breakfast…and slowly kisses her family awake…I come in like a wrecking ball!

As a busy mama, how often do you make time for exercise and what’s your favorite workout today?

Exercise…What’s that? Kidding. I would not function if I couldn’t get some type of exercise…but it is never enough and when I feel myself getting super stressed or grumpy, it is usually because I haven’t worked out enough.

I try to do 45 minutes of scheduled exercise, 4 times per week.  Typically that is walking and/or running on the treadmill while my 2 year-old plays in the room with me.

I have recently started a weekly boot camp out of the house with some of my friends, too that I really enjoy!

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

Firstly, my middle child suffered from a traumatic brain injury at birth, and as a result he has cerebral palsy, is legally blind, has a seizure disorder and is completely dependent on us for his care and feeding.

He also doesn’t sleep at night. The amount of stress that my husband and I carry is sometimes overwhelming…and the lack of sleep doesn’t help. There are days when I rush from school drop-offs, to doctor appointments, to his therapies, to my own meetings…and realize I didn’t eat all day.

I have started packing my Arbonne protein powder in individual packs in my bag so if I miss a meal I can just add water and make sure I get my nutrients!

Finally, we try to eat together as family every night, and limit “take-out” to once a week…..unless something crazy is going on. Home cooked – even if it is Tacos (again) is something we try to always do. With busy lives, it is hard to find time to cook and eat healthy.  We just started buying pre-made salads in a bag so in a pinch my husband and I can have a salad (with last nights fish or something).

I also cook a soup at the beginning of every week so it is also always there if we need something quickly! We also always have brown rice in our fridge.  My husband cooks a huge batch in the rice cooker to bring to work with chicken and kale….and we can use it for a quick side for dinner!

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

The overwhelming love. When my two year-old holds both sides of my face and tells me she loves me…I feel like I could walk on water.  When my 7 year-old grabs my hand when we are hiking….it makes all my worries disappear.  And when my son smiles at me when I tell him I love him…my heart melts.

What has been your most effective best practice for relieving stress?

Exercise is my #1 stress-reliever.

As I mentioned above, if I don’t exercise, then I don’t feel well. And it’s not an exercise to fit into my pre-baby jeans…it is an exercise to clear my head or just lose myself for 45 minutes.  I need that as often as I can get it!

What are some things you’re doing to ensure life balance?

I am probably the last person who can give advice on life balance….I heard Dr. Paula Johnson (Wellesley College) once answer that question by saying, “it is an integration…not a balance.”

I feel like we need to listen to our gut as mothers. There are mornings when I am super mom, afternoons when I am super worker, and evenings when I am super community-driven…and then I go to bed and realize I haven’t spoken to my husband since Tuesday, or I haven’t been the one to put my kids to bed in 3 nights.

Then I listen to my gut and see how I can shuffle my schedule to make sure I give time to whoever needs it the most.

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

I love to read and always find a few minutes a day (even 5) to read just a few pages. Bathtub and book are definitely my favorite “me time” activity!

What is one piece of candid advice you’d like to share with other new moms who are expecting their first child?

No matter how difficult it feels, don’t rush it. Don’t wish they were older to “get through it” because you will miss each phase that passes.  I will never forget the moment my (now) 7 year-old stopped coming into our bed in the middle of the night and how I felt.

Also, as a parent of a child with special needs, I can’t stress enough to moms of healthy children to embrace every accomplishment. Every time your new baby wraps his/her fingers around yours, or coo’s or smiles, or can look you in the eye…embrace it! Take pride in the fact that s/he can nurse or suck from a bottle just as much as you will take pride in that first step. Not milestones…just minor accomplishments.

The fact that they can master the tasks that come naturally – swatting at a toy above them – turning their head to see you walk into the room…these functions are so minor…yet so major. Enjoy every fleeting moment, even the hard ones.

March Movin’ Mama: Lauren

MEET LAUREN!

lauren-gill-2017

Congrats to Lauren on landing our March feature! Lauren is 32 year old first-time mama, residing on the North Shore of MA with her husband and 10 month old baby girl. When she’s not killing it in her full-time job as a Sales Director, she’s spending as much time outside as possible taking walks or relaxing at the beach!

How do you typically start your day?

I typically start my day spending some time cuddling with my daughter before it’s time to get ready for work. Sometimes I am able to get up and start getting ready before my little one wakes and then spend some quality time with her and not have to rush around – those are my favorite mornings. I also have recently started each morning with hot water and lemon.

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

Prep is key! If I shop and have healthy foods available and packed, then I will eat them. It is when I am not prepared that I can make unhealthy decisions.

One thing I am OBSESSED with is my crockpot. It allows me to have a warm meal prepared while I am at work so that after the bedtime routine is done, the food is ready to be eaten. SO many recipes and my husband ALWAYS loves them. (So easy you just “set it and forget it”)

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

Once I discovered Baby Boot Camp, it was a game changer! It allows me to work out and have my daughter with me. This way, I get variations to my workouts, the motivation to push myself more than I would if I were working out alone, and a community and support system of other moms.

Another huge stress reliever is long walks, especially now that the weather is getting warmer again!

Finish this sentence: Being a Mom has made me…

Realize how strong I am! It is amazing how much I can accomplish in a day. I also never realized how much spare time I had BEFORE baby.

Like what did I do with my life before? I also never could imagine the love that I feel for my little one.

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

Coconut oil. I used it throughout my pregnancy and love the versatility.

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

Cheese sticks are one of my faves. Also carrot sticks and guacamole is another go to.

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

There is so much conflicting information out there, do what works best for you and your family. Every child is different so different things will work for them.

You know your little one better than anyone else!

January Movin’ Mama: Teresa

MEET TERESA!

teresa-rivers-feature-photo-jan-2017

Congrats to Teresa on landing our first feature for 2017, welcome to the Mama squad! Teresa is a 29-year-old Movin’ Mama based in Charlotte, NC with her husband and first-born son who is turning 1 next month! When she’s not kicking’ it as a SAHM, she’s traveling the world with her family and works as a Marketing Consultant. We asked her how she’s living well today, and here’s what she shared…

As we enter the New Year, I have to ask…what’s your top resolution for 2017?

To get my little one out as much as possible.  I think it’s imperative for his growth and development to get out of the house, meet new kiddos and do more traveling! Right now, I try to pick a new place each week to go. I want to continue to meet other new Moms in the area, as well. All Moms need relatable, non-judgmental and supportive friends!

How do you typically start your day?

I always start the day in Cole’s nursery. Most mornings, he’s up by 7AM (early riser), so I like to start the day slowly with lots of kisses, snuggling, reading books in the rocker, and just some quiet play before we come downstairs and start the busy day.

By the time my husband comes in the room, we’re all ready and we go downstairs as a family (with the pup, too)! My husband will typically take the dog out while I make some coffee and then he’ll watch him while I use that 20-30 minutes to shower and get myself ready for the day. Those few minutes in the morning are crucial for me to feel like a human being. It’s so important as Moms that we still make a little time for ourselves!

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

I try to not be too hard on myself. I don’t deprive myself of anything I want (and I am guilty of having a bit of a sweet tooth). With that being said, walks are essential for me. I also try to stick to the basics. Eat plenty of fruits and veggies, plan meals for the week and drink plenty of fluids.

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

Getting outside….and WINE. Let’s be real, some days you just need that glass of wine at the end of the day to detox! Staying active and getting outside for walks was imperative for me in the beginning—and still is!

I remember in the first days of Mom-hood, it took so much effort (while being so exhausted) to get out of the house. It was daunting to get the diaper bag, car seat and stroller together…it felt so much easier to just stay home. Pushing myself out to go places and getting fresh air was so essential to being healthy and feeling good! Also, enjoying a movie or dinner date is an amazing way to relax and feel completely refreshed.

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

Put my life in perspective. I have learned so much and feel so lucky to be able to raise this little human being. When the littlest tasks feel repetitive, I remind myself I am raising a person and a man. Every bit of effort and love I put into this is worth it.  Watching him learn, grow and change daily has truly put my entire life and priorities in perspective.

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

Coconut Oil. I loved it all through my pregnancy and I’m still obsessed with it! It’s amazing stuff!

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

CHEESE, bananas and salads from Trader Joe’s. It’s nice to have healthy options when you don’t always have the time to prep at home! Also, stepping up my water intake has been crucial for me.  I’m still breastfeeding, so this has been a key part of not just my daily wellness, but being able to produce enough milk.

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

Do what feels right for you. There are a MILLION resources and websites advising you to do things one way, while others say the exact opposite. The most difficult part of being a new Mom for me was the constant contradictions.

I found myself questioning….”Should I put him on a schedule?” “Should I feed on-demand?”…“Should I crib-train?”…“Should I co-sleep?”

The bottom line is that if you love your child and do what YOU think is best, that’s all that matters. As Moms, we always feel guilty and think we can be doing everything better. Don’t be so hard on yourself and know that you’re doing great.  Every person and Mom does things differently, so try not to listen to everything you hear.

If you and your baby are happy, that’s truly all that matters!

December Movin’ Mama: Stacey

soc

We’re thrilled to close out a great year featuring Stacey O’Connell as our December Movin’ Mama, who resides in Boxborough, MA with her 3 children (Ages 8, 4, 3). As a Stay-At-Home-Mom, she works hard to keep the balance that us Mama’s are always striving for–caring for a family household and tending to our own needs as individuals. Running, Reading, Politics, and Cooking are just a few extracurriculars that Stacey enjoys. We asked her how she’s Living Well today, amidst the holiday craziness, and here’s what she shared…

How do you typically start and end your day?

I wake up early so that I can have my coffee in peace before the kids wake up. Three mornings a week, I’ll go for a run.

What has your most effective workout been since you’ve had children?

I’ve enjoyed running for years and it’s the most convenient workout. I live in the woods and love running in the morning when it’s quiet. It’s almost meditative some days.

Finish this sentence: Being a Mom has made me…

More joyful!

What is your biggest wellness challenge as a Mom today?

Managing stress and maintaining a healthy weight. It’s challenging to eat healthfully when there are leftovers on your kids’ plates. I try to eat healthy foods so I can fill up on those things and not eat too much junk.

Can you share a few of your own best practices for a balanced diet?

I’ve been vegetarian for over 20 years but that alone doesn’t make a person healthy. (French fries are vegetarian!) But I do like to cook and have used Cooking Light as my bible since forever. They even have a meal planning tool that is very user friendly. Also, I try to have a few veggies and salad at dinner so that my kids get exposed to them.

Anyone special you’d like to thank for helping you through parenthood?

My husband has always encouraged my efforts to work out. He’s also a meat and potatoes kind of guy but likes my vegetarian cooking!

How will you personally manage the stress that often comes with holiday madness?

The past few years, I’ve tried meditating and it really helps. It only takes 10 or 15 minutes most days and the benefits are amazing. It can be hard to carve out the time, but I try to remind myself that I can spare 10 minutes to calm myself.

It really helps me manage stress and be a better, less reactive parent and partner. There are lots of free apps for your phone, and I like the guided meditations so I’m not just listening to my breath.

5 Wellness Tips for New Mamas

Every hear that old expression, “Happy Mama, Happy Baby”? Take it in. Write it on a post-it if you have to, and tape it to your diaper bag. Because, it is true–a new mother must care for herself first, before she caring for her new little one.

As a new Mama, I practice this classic mantra that I preach religiously because I am finding it’s ESSENTIAL to find balance and happiness in my own life.

EXERCISE

I list this first on purpose. This is less about weight loss and more about sanity. It doesn’t matter if it’s a 10-minute walk around your neighborhood with your adorable new baby, or you decide it’s been your lifelong dream to train for a marathon.

Once you’re medically cleared to move, JUST DO IT. Not only will your body benefit from the physical activity, but your MIND will thank you later. Between the massive ejection of hormones (hello, psycho!) and lack of sleep thereafter, I encourage you to embrace the endorphins and energy that exercise naturally generates. You will not regret it.

PAMPER

THINK – What did you do to treat yourself, pre-pregnancy? It may seem like a lifetime ago and pointless when you’re covered in poop and spit-up half of the time, but perhaps a hair appointment with your favorite colorist, a mani/pedi, a barre class, or maybe a massage at your local spa did the trick?

Whatever the case, pencil it into your busy calendar–once a month works just fine! Wandering around Target alone for 2 hours and eventually buying nothing (or everything) definitely counts, too. Anything to make you feel like YOU!

SOCIALIZE

Who loves you, besides your new baby? I’d guess a whole lot of awesome people. For the first 8 weeks, go ahead and hibernate. Become somewhat human again, keep the germs away from the little one, and let yourself heal and adjust.

After that, game on. Accept or find help, and please lose the guilt! It is reasonable and in fact healthy to go out on a date alone with your partner and talk about things besides your newborn; or grab a cocktail and reminisce with your girl friends; or wander around target alone with complete strangers and never actually buy anything…even if it’s just an hour spent out of the house. Those rare yet important social excursions in the first few months will strengthen you!

COMMUNICATE

There are MANY moving parts when it comes to being a new parent.

Constant learning through trial & error is exhausting and rewarding all at once, and I’ve been told it is a never-ending curve in motherhood. So try to relax, don’t sweat the small stuff, and be thankful for your beautifully changed life. Also if you are a spiritual person, I have found that strengthening my own faith has helped me tremendously in motherhood.

REMEMBER

Do remember that you are just one, perfectly imperfect human being. Reality check–you simply cannot do it all, and most often than not, you won’t do it the right way, the first time anyhow. So cut yourself some slack, for your own well-being’s sake!

Finally, don’t forget that time is fleeting. I cannot tell you how quickly 10 months has passed in my home. It is incomprehensible, really. I am eternally grateful for every single moment, and wouldn’t trade ’em for the whole world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

November Movin’ Mama: Silvia

Meet Silvia!

fabrizio-silvia-_-november-2016-feature

Congrats to Silvia Fabrizio for landing the November Movin’ Mama nomination! Silvia resides on the South Shore with her husband, twin 11-year old sons and a 6-year old daughter. When she’s not killing it in the courtroom as an Attorney part-time, she enjoys Tennis and Reading. We asked her how she’s living well today, and here’s what she shared…

How do you typically start your weekdays?

Mornings are crazy getting the boys off to middle school in the dark, and spending special time with my daughter before she goes to kindergarten almost two hours later. Then I either head to work or to the Y for a workout.

As a busy mama, how often do you make time for exercise and what’s your favorite workout today?

I try to use the treadmill before everyone is up if I need to get moving. Lately, I have tried classes at CATZ (Competitive Athlete Training Zone offering Performance Fitness) here in Hingham.  It is invigorating and every workout is different.  I love that it makes me feel strong!

What has been your biggest challenge with wellness this year and how are you overcoming it?

I used to wake up before everyone and work out 2-3 times per week but now that I have to make sure the kids are up for middle school by 6:10AM, I just can’t wake up early enough to fit in a workout. So, I’m struggling to consistently make time for exercise.

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

I love watching my kids’ personalities develop.

What has been your most effective best practice for relieving stress?

I think exercise and movement is important-getting the adrenaline going!

What are some things you’re doing to ensure balance in your life?

I think my first focus is my kids, but it’s important to make time to have fun with your spouse and your friends, too.  I also love the feeling of finishing a work project.

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

My favorite kind of “Me Time” includes a game of tennis, or curling up with a great book.

What is one piece of candid advice you’d like to share with other new moms who are expecting their first child?

“Don’t sweat the small stuff, ladies.”  I wish I had been a little easier on myself with the twins (my first time around).  I was always worried about every little thing, and they have turned out to be nice, hard-working, fun kids that I love to be around.  I have definitely eased up with my daughter and she is so independent and confident.  I love it!

October Movin’ Mama: Selina

Selina Van Hook Photo.jpg

We are thrilled to feature Selina as our October Movin’ Mama–she currently resides near Houston, TX with her husband and two little ones (3.5 year-old girl and 10-month old boy). Not only does she kick it as a stay-at-home Mama, cooking and organizing to find her Zen, she also serves as the primary health caregiver for her son who was diagnosed with End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD),  and is anxiously awaiting a kidney transplant. We asked her how she’s Living Well today and here’s what she shared…

How do you typically start and end your day?

My day starts with disconnecting my son from dialysis as soon as he wakes up.  When I was 20 weeks pregnant with him, we realized something wasn’t right with his renal system.  After further testing, he was diagnosed with ESRD, or Kidney Failure and I’ve been caring for him ever since. If the day doesn’t begin with dialysis, it starts with me rising hours before the sun and dragging myself to the gym.

My day ends with connecting my son back to dialysis and sitting in his room while he’s sleeping to make sure his first fill goes smoothly. Well, I guess you can say that’s my first part of ending my day. After that’s finished, I get to spend 1v1 time with my first-born in bed watching her favorite, Peppa Pig.

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

My most effective form of exercise is a full-body pump session (weightlifting) with a hint of cardio.  Since the kiddos arrived, I haven’t had the time or desire to stay at the gym for long hours so I walk in on a mission.

With my son’s ESRD, sometimes life is just hard to get away from, so I always make it a point to hit every part of my body with weights just in case I can’t make it back to the gym for a few days longer than anticipated.

In terms of timing, I prefer mornings before anyone is awake.  It’s my “ME time.”  And it’s also the only time I don’t feel guilty leaving!

Finish this sentence: Being a Mom has made me…

Realize how easy it is to get lost in the daily shuffle of motherhood.  My son was in the hospital from December 11, 2015 – May 9, 2016.  He was born December 11, 2015.  During those 5 grueling months, I spend the last 8 weeks in the hospital with him.  I would only come home 1-2 times each week to shower (depending how greasy my hair was, haha).  I admit, I got very lost. My only identity I had was “I’m His Mom”.

I am so glad that’s in the past.

Can you share a few best practices for healthy eating that you try to follow?

One trick up my sleeve I always share is if you know you’re going to have a crazy busy week, BUY A ROTISSERIE CHICKEN from your local grocer and de-bone it right when you get home.

I feel like cooking a protein is the hardest (and longest) thing to cook for a meal.  It helps keep you from falling off and having to resort to 1) Breaking your healthy eating with fast food and 2) Breaking your budget.  So on a crazy day, you can whip out your chicken and add it to a full bed of salad and there’s your dinner!

And speaking of salads, I always try to have one with either my lunch or dinner.  Again, if I know I’m going to have the week of doom with a million things scheduled, I buy bagged salad.  Such an easy base to add in whatever fresh veggies you might have in your fridge.

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

Appreciating and being thankful every second of every day that she is healthy.  I took her health for granted. I assumed my son would be a healthy baby boy when he was born.  His renal failure has been my blessing in disguise.

Would I want to do this all over again? Absolutely not. But has it opened my eyes to what’s really worth appreciating and being thankful for? Absolutely yes.

How do you typically relieve stress?

This is something I’ve recently started struggling with.  I know its total cliché to say it, but there are only so many hours of the day!

On the days that I can make it to the gym in the morning, that is my stress reliever and IT.IS.AMAZING. But I’m still searching for something to help with my stress on the days I’m not able to make it there.

What is one wish for your children?

I wish that they will always know and feel the same amount of love that I have for them.

Sometimes I am spread super thin with everything I have to do for my son, that I catch myself falling behind on the “in the moment” category.

But when I put everything down and am “in the moment” with my children, I just look at both of them and think “Gosh, I Love Them”.

September Movin’ Mama: Tara

Meet Tara!

Tara Lech 2016

Congrats to Tara on her September feature! Tara is a 37-year-old Movin’ Mama residing in Andover, MA with her husband and 3 yr. old twins! When she’s not spending time on her Yoga mat, she’s a Cardiovascular Clinical Pharmacy Specialist (AKA Pharmacist) and co-CEO of her family (her own cute title, may have to steal that one). We asked her how she’s living well today and here’s what she shared…

How do you typically start your day?

Ha! Well that depends on the day and what time I was able to get to bed the night before. When things run smoothly I like to get up early and squeeze in a little yoga practice before work. In my ideal world, I would like to do this every day.

Then I make my breakfast, pack my lunch and head out the door. Some mornings though, I just don’t have the energy. After spending a night running around with the kids and staying up late to work on projects (likely while binge watching some of my favorite shows), the snooze button becomes my best friend and I will hit it about 2-3 times before getting up to start getting ready for work and head out the door. The good thing about these mornings is that I am usually able to see the kids and grab some hugs before I head out the door. My daughter has been doing this thing where she mouths “I love you” and then winks and points at me and it melts my heart every time.

My favorite mornings are when I can have a lazy Saturday or Sunday with the kids. They don’t really get to watch TV, so on the weekends I let them cuddle in bed with me and watch a show and then we all get up and make breakfast together. Usually something they can help with, like pancakes or eggs and then we all sit together and plan out our adventure for the day.

What is your favorite workout right now, and why?

Yoga! It makes me feel strong inside and out. With the limited time I have between juggling a marriage, 2 kids and a career, what I strive for in life is BALANCE.

Easier said than done, but at least my practice helps me to feel like I am moving in the right direction. We recently moved from Texas back to Massachusetts, so while I get settled and find my new yoga home here, I have been doing online flow yoga practices led by some of my favorite teachers in Houston. Yoga has taught me the value of patience and honoring what my body can do today, free of self-judgement. Each day I build strength and flexibility that I use on and off the mat.

The other reason I love yoga, is because it is something that I have been able to share with my kids. They naturally took to yoga and from a very early age I noticed them trying to mimic what I was doing. I quickly took the opportunity to start teaching them the breathing techniques, basic poses and meditation.

Practicing together has helped us to develop a unique bond and I have noticed that it has helped them to develop their self-esteem as well as helping them learn to regulate their emotions through deep breathing and relaxation. They never cease to amaze me. Just the other day Violet was calling me over to show me that she had learned the dancer’s pose.

What crossed your mind when you found out that you were expecting twins?

Getting pregnant was such a struggle for us. After 3 years of trying, we had already come to terms with the reality that children might not have been in our future. So, when the ultrasounds showed not one, but two babies, I had no words…it just seemed too good to be true. Immediately a wave of emotions rushed through me.

I was excited to be pregnant, scared about successfully carrying these babies to term, and anxious about the challenges we would face raising our children in Houston when both of our families lived in Massachusetts. It was a little overwhelming to say the least, but the amount of joy and happiness that filled my heart was like nothing I have ever experienced. After being married for 7 years, I knew we were ready and I was SO thankful that I was going to be a mom.

Once the initial shock wore off, I started to think about more of the actual details, like how would we afford daycare with 2 children? Do we put them in the same room or separate them? (ours are still in the same room per their request). Would I be able to breastfeed twins? (I was told it would be like holding 2 footballs – and it wasn’t. my little footballs squirmed and wiggled and repeatedly tried to roll off the pillow).

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

Honestly, as much as I love the double hugs and hearing I love you x 2, I love that I can be there for those little people. I cherish those moments when Mom is the only one that can wipe the tears and make them feel better. I love feeling their little chests rise and fall as they begin to catch their breath and calm down. I hope they always know that I am here for them and that I will always be their biggest fan.

I also love how they have changed me for the better and helped me to rethink my own definition of happiness. My career has always been a big part of who I am, but now I take my job as Mama Bear and Co-CEO of this family very seriously. I want to be a huge part of Landon and Violet’s formative years and I make sure to carve out quality time with them each day, which sometimes means a lot of late nights and snooze buttons for me.

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

My biggest hurdle was mentally reassuring myself that it was ok to still have “me” time. As I mentioned it was so hard for us to get pregnant so when I finally got the good news, I was so cautious and I cut way back on my activity. It all worked out for the best as I was able to carry the twins for 37.5 weeks and I actually worked up until the day I delivered.

But, after wanting to be a mom for so long I just felt so guilty leaving the babies. How could I possibly spend all day away from them at work and then still carve out an hour for myself? It was a mental road block that was so hard to break through. It finally all changed for me on my 2nd Mother’s Day when my husband bought me a 30-day pass to my favorite yoga studio. When I opened my card and saw that gift, I felt something come alive inside me. It was like fate.

We had just moved to the suburbs and the studio I had gone to in town had just opened a new location about 5 minutes from our house. I gave everyone a kiss, grabbed my stuff and headed out to the studio to start my practice. It felt amazing!

Taking that time for me and allowing myself time to re-energize and get centered created a shift towards restoring the balance that had been missing. Gradually I watched myself grow stronger mentally and physically, and I can’t imagine my life without my practice.

What is your best practice for stress-relief?

Yoga, mindful meditation and deep breathing. While the mediation takes more time and practice, the deep breathing is quick, easy and works for kids too. It has been an invaluable skill to teach these ticking time bombs that have shown me that they can decompensate at a moment’s notice.

Personally, I use the deep breathing to help me re-focus my energy when I am at the brink of a meltdown. And… admittedly, sometimes I need to use it to regroup after I have already flipped the switch. Taking the time to take long deep breaths keeps me from talking and saying things I may later regret.

For the kids, I use it when they are upset or having a full on meltdown. I know that a lot of their frustration comes from their inability to control their situation, so we practice breathing in order to help them find some self-control. This technique takes time but it is so worth it, because it works.

I hold them and keep taking deep breaths and once they are able to stop hyperventilating, they join in with me and we keep breathing until they can take three deep breaths on their own. Sometimes it helps if I put their hand on my heart and let them feel the rise and fall or my chest with the breaths. Within a few minutes they are able to regroup and get back to being kids. This has saved my sanity, limited the duration and frequency of meltdowns, and has helped prevent me from saying things I would have later regretted.

What are some things you’re doing to find work-life balance?

Work/life balance can definetly be a struggle at times. I am a clinical pharmacist at a major teaching hospital and between rounds, teaching, committee work and presentations there is always plenty of work to be done. My challenge as a mom is reeling in my type A personality traits that can make it difficult to pull myself away from my job.

Compartmentalizing my day has helped me to achieve some sense of balance amidst all the craziness. As much as I am NOT a morning person, I have attempted to become one. My goal is to get up early, squeeze in a workout, get to work by 7, wrap up by work by 4 or 5, pick up the twins and then spend my evening hours with my family.

At work, I have learned to set limits and say no when I start to get stretched too thin. I also try to give people a realistic timeline for when I can get things accomplished so that I don’t create too much stress and anxiety for myself.

When I am home I try to unplug between the hours of 5-9, limiting the amount of time I spend online and returning emails. I want my family to know and feel that they are my priority and they have my attention. We try to eat together as a family every night and I try to make some of our activities fitness-related to help provide me with some stress relief as well.

We go on long walks, swim and play outside whenever we get the chance. The key is not to beat yourself up on the days when you are just too tired to function. Those days when you wake up late, get tied up at work or are stuck trying to juggle making dinner, mediating a toddler dispute and frantically working to meet a deadline. It’s okay to feel a sense of relief and joy when the kids are finally tucked in and you can rest. It’s all about the little victories!

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

Relax! Lately, between work and the kids, my life is always GO GO GO. I honestly had no idea how much energy 2 three year-olds would have! When I get that time for myself there a few things I love to do:

  1. Sit in a coffee house and actually enjoy my coffee while reading something completely unrelated to work
  2. Yoga – did I mention I love it?
  3. Binge watch TV. We never have the TV on in the evenings so when I am alone is the only time I get to catch up on my shows. Some of my more recent series have been Orange is the New Black, The Bachelorette and Chicago Med. Next in line is Stranger Things.
  4. Sleep. No explanation needed.

What is one piece of candid advice you’d like to share with other new moms who are expecting twins?

Life will always be imperfectly perfect. Just go with the flow and enjoy the moment. Life with 2 is challenging and I have learned to pick and choose my battles.  For instance, I could buy the most adorable matching outfits and my daughter will inevitably tell me no thank you, and insist on wearing a full on pink tutu with green polka dot leggings +/_ sunglasses or a tiara…while my son, would prefer to just wear his pajamas everywhere. As far as I am concerned if we can get out the door on time with clothes and shoes that’s a HUGE win.

Appreciate that your children are twins but love and foster their individuality. Don’t stress about who walks or talks first, which one is good at sports and which one can sing their ABC’s. Focus on making them feel good about themselves and teach them to love and each other and their family.

Spend time with them and create memories that they will treasure forever. My husband laughs because I want to do something EVERY weekend, but after losing my own mom too soon, I realize that time is not guaranteed. I love these years where I am still their best friend and it is cool to hang out with mom. I stopped telling myself “it’s too much work to get everyone packed up and out the door or on a plane,” and we just started doing it. And you know what, the kids adapted. There will always be an inevitable meltdown, but the fun times will always outweigh those little bumps in the road.

But my biggest recommendation, especially as a working mom, is to just relax, take a deep breath and take it all in. It’s okay that your house looks “lived in”…as I sat down to type this I had to move some monster trucks aside and I am sitting at a table with Elsa and Jake the Pirate.

There are some weeks that the laundry is washed and will just sit in baskets waiting to be put away, and the dishes may pile up if the dishwasher hadn’t been emptied. But it’s OKAY.

Those things are there and they need to be done, and again they will wait because now Landon is asking me to play dinosaurs and Violet would like to paint a picture, and well, those things will always come first.