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Wellness

Elvie. It’s Fitbit for Your Lady Bits.

February 8, 2017
Screen Shot 2017-02-07 at 11.35.16 AM

We love when we meet a new mama who inspires us from the moment we say, “hello”. That’s what happened when we first met Cecile Urrea on a playdate with our kids. After a few short minutes, we knew that we had to extend an invitation to Cecile to join our community and the rest is history. You see, Cecile works for Elvie, a product designed exclusively for women to help tighten their pelvic floor. Intrigued? So were we. Read on…

 

You helped launch Elvie, a product designed to tighten the pelvic floor. What inspired the founder Tania Boler to start the company, and for you to join the adventure?

Tania (a women’s health expert) started Chiaro (makers of Elvie) to empower women to love their body and love being a woman. From pregnancy and childbirth to periods and menopause, being a woman is never dull, but so often we choose to ignore the fact that there is so little support out there for our wellness and what exists isn’t really tailored to our needs. When Tania became a mom a few years back, at the recommendation of her pre/postpartum trainer, she looked for a solution to help strengthen her core and pelvic floor outside of her Pilates classes. She was shocked to see how inadequate the solutions were for modern women and realized she could create an innovative, beautiful and bold product women would enjoy using to solve this need. After all, smart women deserve smart technology! She applied and received a UK government grant to develop her idea and she quit her job and started working on Elvie.

My passion for this project came from my personal experience as a mom and my French origins – in my home country new moms get 10 government paid (!) sessions with a physiotherapist to rehab their pelvic floor post-baby. While in NY when my twins were born, I got a sad piece of paper saying I should do Kegels (no explanation as to why I should do them, how I should do them or tips to making sure I was doing them correctly). I wished there had been something like Elvie then and I was excited to help transform the way technology is designed for women by taking control of the conversation ourselves and launching an innovation that would make a difference in women’s lives.

We’ve all been told how important it is to do daily Kegel exercises. Can you explain why?

Every woman has a pelvic floor, though many of us don’t really understand this part of our body. This powerful set of muscles sits like a hammock between your tailbone and your pubic bone. Kind of hidden but very important, they lift and hold your core. Age, children, weight, high impact sport etc. can affect the health of these muscles. Sadly, one in three women have pelvic floor issues and the numbers even go up to 50-80% of pregnant women and new moms. But the good news is that like any muscle, with a bit of exercise (aka the famous Kegels) you can feel the benefit – more core stability, better control and even better sex and that’s timely for Valentine’s Day! Sadly, it’s hard to exercise a muscle you can’t see and Kegels are notoriously boring and hard to do. That’s where Elvie comes in. We make it easy and fun. Ultimately, we’re focusing on an issue that affects pretty much every woman at some point in their lives, but has traditionally been thought of as a health issue or a sex issue, so for us it’s been about changing the conversation to make it a woman’s issue and caring for your core a normal part of her lifestyle.

elvie

“In my home country new moms get 10 government paid (!) sessions with a physiotherapist to rehab their pelvic floor post-baby. While in NY when my twins were born, I got a sad piece of paper saying I should do Kegels (no explanation as to why I should do them, how I should do them or tips to making sure I was doing them correctly).”

Studies show that men climax 3 times more than women. Fair? We think not. What advice do you give to women to empower them in the bedroom?

Totally not fair! As women, we’re 51 percent of the population, and yet our health needs and the needs that we have as women have been overlooked for so long. Viagra and erectile dysfunction are mainstream, but we can’t even say vagina in some places. If you’re scared to even say the word, then you probably don’t know how powerful it is. For too long, women’s intimate health has been ignored by media and has been avoided in conversation. 2017 is the #YearOfTheVagina. We are taking back what it means to be a woman, starting by being honest about our bodies. The first step to owning your orgasm is knowing your body and your vagina. Women are now taking control of their orgasm, and making sure they get it – every time. Moving away from the stereotypical image of what is ‘sexy’, women are embracing their inner strength and getting to know their bodies before they get to know their partner’s. Women want to feel sexy from the inside out; forget the satin lingerie, it’s all about inner strength and confidence and feeling happy from the inside out. Elvie can play a part in that. It’s your very own Fitbit for your lady bits! Never before have women been able to get so up-close and personal with their vaginas. A stronger pelvic floor means stronger orgasm! Owning your orgasm starts with you.

How exactly does Elvie work?

Elvie empowers women to take control of their bodies and bring an exercise that was traditionally restricted to hospital rooms and clinics, into their homes to fit around their busy modern lifestyle! Elvie is a small egg-shaped device inserted like a tampon to help women do their pelvic floor exercises. Elvie – which Tania developed with Alex Asseily, the founder of the wearable tech company Jawbone – connects to an app and with real time biofeedback guides women through different fun five-minute exercises, depending on your personalized strength. Over 150 women impacted each step of its development so it’s designed to be “discreet” and come in a compact, charging case. Made with safe medical grade silicone and completely waterproof, it is easy to clean. It’s really small but it comes with the option to custom size it. I like to say it is like going on a treadmill: pop on, follow the directions of the workout program, get competitive with yourself and when it ends 5 minutes later, pop out you are done!

elvie

“2017 is the #YearOfTheVagina. We are taking back what it means to be a woman, starting by being honest about our bodies. The first step to owning your orgasm is knowing your body and your vagina. Women are now taking control of their orgasm, and making sure they get it – every time.”

How does Elvie engage you into routinely doing your Kegels?

Beyond the gaming and competitive aspect (personal best anyone?) for women who don’t know how to exercise, Elvie will help them improve their technique and it will coach them at a quite gentle learning pathway. There are different levels and it’s like any other fitness program. It’s all about motivating and rewarding women to keep coming back and to enjoy the experience. It’s recommended to use Elvie three times a week minimum so it will send you reminders to keep you on track. Personally, I love to see my progress on the dashboard but I am data freak. My husband might have also possibly commented on noticing the difference but I can’t neither confirm or deny – I am bound to secrecy.

Lucky for us the pelvic floor muscles are among the most versatile in the human body and they are thought to be able to recover their strength even after years of disuse. So it is never too late to train it ladies!

What are the benefits of doing Kegels? Is there a point to do them if you’ve never had a baby?

Breaking news ladies – Kegels are a must-do from puberty to the grave! The pelvic floor needs to be strengthened and toned whether or not you have kids. Prevention does not sound sexy but it will help avoid later in life possible surgical intervention. Yes pregnancy and childbirth tend to weaken the pelvic floor but genetics and high impact sports with repetitive downward movements (such as tennis, running, HIIT, Crossfit…) have been linked to pelvic floor issues. Look up marathoners who had a pee accident –  it’s more common than you think! It is also quite beneficial at menopause to offset the effect of this transition and age. And kids or no kids, who would say no to a greater orgasm? Beyond exercising the muscles that are actively activated during orgasm, exercise boosts blood flow so when you’re working out your intimate muscles you increase sensitivity down there too.  Doing your Kegels not only strengthens your pelvic floor to spice up your sex life but can intensify your orgasms. As your pelvic floor gets stronger, your orgasms will get more intense. So take note and start doing more with your Kegels!

“Kids or no kids, who would say no to a greater orgasm?”

Will Kegels make you stronger, give you better posture, make you slimmer, or make you feel better?

As a woman (and a mom of a little girl) the cultural zeitgeist I am most excited about these days is that now strength is the new sexy thanks to Millenials who are prioritizing their fitness pursuits. To be skinny is no longer the goal, it is about finding inner strength. Feeling strong inside helps you feel strong emotionally too. Part of it is just confidence because it affects so much of how we feel as women. It affects how you feel about yourself sexually, with confidence and health, so we look at it as an empowerment issue. Kegels can help women be and feel stronger. Other more obvious benefits include prevention against pelvic prolapsus (Google it, trust me you do not want this), less back pain, better bladder control and yes, improvements in the bedroom.

Dare we ask, how are you spending your Valentine’s Day this year?

I am a foodie but a lazy cook and in our home my husband is usually the chef making dinner or fabulous elaborate dishes, but once a year, I get behind the stove and work on a meal for him. It spurred from a hate of the anti-climatic must-do overpopulated restaurant night and it grew to be a tradition and he won’t let me get off the hook for. But I can’t deny him this one night.

Elvie

Cecile Urrea is the US General Manager of Chiaro Technology LTD, the company that created Elvie. You can find Cecile hanging in Brooklyn with her two littles or going for a run.

Living, Wellness

I’m A Cancer Survivor: Here’s My Story

February 4, 2017
breast cancer

When I was 17 years old, I felt a lump in my right breast. I had larger breasts in high school and when I mentioned it to my OB she said it was probably a fibroadenoma (a very common occurrence) but referred me to a specialist just to be safe. The specialist suggested we could do a biopsy, but because I also had several other lumps in both breasts that I should stop taking my birth control to reduce external hormones, cut down on caffeine, and we would keep an eye on it.

I was young, carefree, and felt invincible. I knew in the back of my mind everyday that the lump was there, that I should do something about it, but I wanted to live my life. I wanted to have fun. There wasn’t time to slow down, take care of myself, be responsible. Fast forward two years later, and at age 19 my tumor had grown to roughly the size of a tangerine. I knew it was time to go back in.

I remember being so afraid, sitting in the waiting room surrounded by older women, some with hair, some without, and thinking to myself, “I don’t belong here”. I remember the biopsy machine being loud and the room was cold. The specialist asked me to come back after a few days and I received the news. “Ana. You have breast cancer.”

breast cancer

I was diagnosed on February 7, 2007 with a malignant Phyllodes tumor. Phyllodes tumors are extremely rare – only 1% of all breast tumors are Phyllodes. They are most commonly benign so having a malignant Phyllodes tumor is even more rare. The most common symptom is rapid growth of the tumor, though luckily it doesn’t tend to spread to other parts of the body.

I was in complete shock. The doctor was explaining treatment and our next course of action but it sounded like I was underwater and everyone was talking about me above the surface. I had never had surgery, stitches, not even a cavity. I remember them showing me a book with reconstruction options and thinking this isn’t happening to me. My body can’t look like that. How will I ever feel like a woman? How will I feed my future children? How will someone ever love me?

I opted to have a double mastectomy. I had several tumors on my left breast as well that they were going to remove and I knew if those tests came back positive I couldn’t put myself through this experience again.I think one of the hardest parts of the entire experience was the isolation. I had so much anger and self-pity. All I thought of was what I had lost, not what I had gained.

breast cancer

It has been a long journey to find acceptance and gratitude. It finally came to me the day I gave birth to my daughter Edith. It didn’t matter that I couldn’t breastfeed her, I was there, she was mine, and I had been given this gift of life. I realized I was a survivor.

For me, being a survivor has meant living in gratitude. I know it sounds cliche to say “live each day as if it were your last” but nothing is more true to me. I’m not perfect. I have days where I let the kids watch too much TV. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve lost my patience or gotten upset over something petty. I’m human. But I know the “big picture” of things. We live life. We welcome adventure. There are nights when we stay out hours past bedtime because no one has stopped laughing since dinner and I can’t bring myself to tell them the fun has to end. Or when we just decide to have ice cream sundaes for dinner because it is too hot outside to cook anything and summer will be over before we know it. In those moments, I know exactly what the meaning of life is and nothing else matters. We will make it home for a decent bedtime another night. We will have plenty of time for our daily routines, school, and healthy dinners. I just want to wake up and take each day as it comes.

I don’t have the answers why some people survive and some don’t. I do know cancer isn’t “fair”. That is takes good people – mothers and mothers who would do anything to be back with their children. When I wake up in the morning that this life is a gift. Being here, being a mother, I don’t take it lightly. I know my second chance at life hasn’t been wasted.

breast cancer

Ana Fritsch is a writer, stylist, and blogger who currently lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two daughters. You can follow along with her journey over at Lucky Penny
Wellness

Shiva Rose, Earth Mother, Beauty Maven, Actress and Activist

February 3, 2017
Shiva Rose

When you think of boho-chic, Shiva Rose is one of the first people that comes to mind. Half American, half Persian, she was born and raised in the countryside of Iran. Shiva and her family lived as refugees before settling into a new life in the United States. Finding solace in old films, fashion and books, Shiva expressed herself through film and theater, launching her Hollywood career. Now, Shiva can be found wandering barefoot in her garden in the Santa Monica Mountains with chickens underfoot and a commitment to clean living that is enviable, to say the least. Lucky for us, Shiva is generous with her knowledge and shares regularly on her blog, The Local Rose, and her award-winning (not to mention stunning!) line of all-natural products, Shiva Rose Beauty & Skin has been added to our must-try list for 2017.

Shiva Rose

We have the best intentions of living a clean lifestyle but feel a little intimidated by it all. What are three easy changes we can make in our daily routines?

I would say the three most vital ways of transitioning into a more conscious, cleaner lifestyle, would be:  

1. Switch to organic, unprocessed foods, as much as you as you can. Honor your bodies and your spaces as temples and show gratitude by maintaining your body with nourishing sustenance.

2. Eliminate (to be best of your ability), toxic creams, fragrances, lotions and anything that is filtering directly into your bloodstream and liver through your skin.

3. Begin to faze out negative thought patterns. Just as we wash our hair when it gets dirty, so does our mind. Clear your mind with a simple meditation practice, sound bath, breath work, or consciousness. I believe we truly are what we eat and think. It will be no use eating healthy if our thought and actions are toxic and full of despair.

shiva rose

You were diagnosed with an autoimmune disease in your early twenties which led you on the path as a naturalist and activist. Can you tell us more about that experience and what you did?

After the birth of my first daughter at the age of 26, I was exhausted and couldn’t recover my strength and health. I was then diagnosed with Lupus, scleroderma and Rheumatoid Arthritis, and I was told I had a year to live. After having horrible side effects from the traditional treatments and protocols, I began to explore alternative and holistic medicines. It took me many years, but I was able to slowly build myself back up with a lot of research. This was before the internet was as accessible as it is now, so I spent a great deal of time with Chinese Medicine acupuncturists, healers, and frequented places like the Santa Monica Homeopathic Pharmacy. Also, I started to closely monitor what I ate. I was a vegetarian for 25 years but I realized I had been eating a lot of wheat to sustain my energy. When I cut out all the GMO grown grains and processed wheat, I noticed a shift in the inflammation in my body. I then began adhering to an Ayurvedic lifestyle by adding in more healthy fats and oils and I also noticed positive shifts. Lastly, I began adding a daily spiritual practice, getting into nature, shifting into all natural beauty products and balancing my hormones, and I noticed great changes.

You created your first products with ingredients from your own garden! How did you scale your company into the beloved brand it is today?

I started making my own Rose Face Oil many years ago and then I began experimenting with roses from my garden and calendula oil from blossoms I had harvested. I then started using beeswax from my honey bees and other powerful plant remedies and it began taking over my beauty practice. As my business grew, I began to look for labs that have a very strong ethical philosophy on the ingredients they use. That said, I still continue to make many of my products in my studio to ensure the high vibrational frequency, and power of the line.

Shiva Rose

“Switch to organic, unprocessed foods as much as you can. Honor your bodies and your spaces as temples and show gratitude by maintaining your body with nourishing sustenance.”

How did your first sale influence the direction of your business?

I was so grateful to see people enjoying the Rose Face Oil and I remember being filled with joy that I could spread beauty through an actual product. Creating the line came to me in a Kundalini Meditation, so I feel I am just a channel to get the message to others. The first sales were lovely, however I am more swayed by the comments or emails I receive about the products really working. Hearing from my customers gives me a great joy and it makes me know I am on the right path.

What is your best selling product?

So many products are being celebrated – I would say The Glow Balm has a very loyal following, as does the Sea Siren Scrub and the Pearl Rose Face Cream.

Shiva Rose

What do you think is the next trend in beauty?

I feel the next trend may be chaga mushroom since it can hydrate the face. I also am looking into obscure Ayurvedic herbs. My Saffron Rose Scrub has Shatavari which is wonderful for women both topically and internally.

If there was one food or product you wish people would stop ingesting or using, what would it be?

I would say if all of us rise up and refused the Monsanto engineered foods we could make a difference.  It sickens me to think that the same pesticide that they are killing our earth with is imbedded into the seed. When people are ingesting GMO crops, they are ingesting the very pesticide which causes cancer, diabetes, leaky guts, ADDHD, Hormonal issues and so many other ailments.

You eat foods that are 100% organic, alive and unprocessed. What are your favorite resources for finding recipes?

I love to go to the Farmers market or my own vegetable garden and build a recipe on what’s abundant and in season. I like to then use lovely oils, organic raw butters or ghee to enhance the flavors. I have some close ties to my raw dairy suppliers and Farmers Market farmers who I have known for decades. Just because we are healthy doesn’t mean we are missing out. In fact, my daughters and I also have sweet tooth’s so we love to bake, but we use our own eggs, organic flours, and coconut sugar. I love to visit my own site for recipes, or ask friends for ideas. In the colder seasons, I will make a lot of soups and bake my own bread. When the weather is warm, I love to make salads, tarts, quiches.

Winter has our skin feeling drab and flaky. What can we whip up at home to renew our glow?

I would say most of us need more oil in our diets. I would take a spoonful of ghee twice a day for the healthy linoleic acid and vitamins like K, A and E which help with dry skin. If you want a DIY face mask for dry skin, it’s easy to make your own with honey and avocado which will feed your skin in a nourishing, gentle way.

Do you have a network of natural healers or do you experiment with different experts?

Ha! Yes. I have an army of healers and am eternally grateful for them. They range from energy workers, to my Kundalini Yoga teachers, to body work masseuses. I think it’s vital for us to have self care moments and if we are on a budget, we can learn how to heal ourselves. I have posted about the wonders of Self massage or Abhyanga on my blog. I also take time out everyday for some rituals to feed myself with the source energy and self love. We all need this as mothers especially. We cannot keep giving away our love and energy at a deficit. We can learn ways to heal, clear and calm our nervous systems through self care.

shiva rose

“I also take time out everyday for some rituals to feed myself with the source energy and self love. We all need this as mothers especially.”

You have lived life as a refugee escaping from Iran to a Hollywood ingenue, how do you stay so centered and what advice would you give to people going through their own personal struggles?

Yes, my life has run the gamut of ups and downs. I feel this has all created a resilience in me which can now help me to help others. I love the quote by Stella Adler, a great acting teacher, who once said “To be a great artist one must have the skin of a rhinoceros, and yet the soul of a rose”. We must become strong in the belief that our intuition, once honed, can lead us to the most authentic and truthful way to live. We must be strong in that and yet still be tender, open, and loving with seeking spirits. I believe we need the duality of both for a full life. Personally, my tools are a consistent practice of Living tea Ceremony, which is a meditation practice, Kundalini yoga meditation, being in nature and beauty rituals. For people struggling, I would say self love is vital which will come from a spiritual connection to the source.

Finding your mama tribe is the first order of business for new mamas everywhere. Do you have any rituals with your own girlfriends? How do you make sure to fit them into your busy life?

I feel so blessed to have a small community of mama friends nearby. We don’t often meet, but once in a while for a new moon, or season solstice, we will gather to have tea, make a mandala, and sing songs and play drums. For me, that is bliss. I have other mama friends who are more in the Hollywood/Fashion world and with them it is just as deep, but we will have a nice dinner and talk.

Your blog, The Local Rose, is filled with beauty tips, recipes and advice for anyone looking to make healthier lifestyle choices – not to mention, gorgeous photos. What has been your most popular post? How do you find your inspirations?

My posts on beauty and yoni eggs have been the most popular, as are the recipes. I am constantly inspired and always want to be creating content, but my problem is time and manpower. I get inspired all the time, from taking Olive Leaf extract to keep parasites at bay, or discovering new holistic ways to screen for cancer using Thermography. I will never tire of discovering the incredible healing remedies that are being offered to us when we are seeking. I also feel holistic living has finally become chic! When i started my blog seven years ago, I was told it was too granola or hippy, but now it makes me want to dance when i see the tide changing. I am inspired by nature, healers, flowers, music, books, animals, children, love . . .

shiva rose

“We must be strong in that and yet still be tender, open, and loving with seeking spirits.”

You believe in the positive vibrations given off from crystals. What are your favorite crystals and why?

Yes, I believe in crystals and the energy they transmit, and you can use various crystals for various issues. For example, to bring in more material wealth, place citrine in an area that is about work. For love and healing the heart, use rose quartz and amethyst. For keeping EMFs lower and to release negativity, use black tourmaline.

How do you support your two girls in living a clean lifestyle? What advice do you give to mamas trying to steer their kids away from Cheetos on the playground and trips to McDonalds?

I try to have a toxic-free zone at my home, but when my girls are away from me, I have to let them be independent in their choices. We cannot become so rigid that they want to rebel and go the other way. I feel we can lead by example, and then say that hopefully they will honor their temples while they are elsewhere. I try to always have healthy snacks for them to take with them as well. That helps.

What is your morning routine? Evening routine?

My morning routine on a school/work day will be truncated but will involve a short Tea meditation and a small Kundalini Yoga set – I like to connect and keep the energy flow of the day moving in a positive direction. I will also spray my face with my Radiant Rose Water and use my Blue Crystal Eye Cream

to release any puffiness around my eyes. For evening, I like to have a bath ritual where I can dry brush my skin and then release the negativity, if any, of the day. I will then nourish my skin with my body oils and loving intentions. Before bed, I try to practice gratitude for the blessings of my day.

What are your 3 Pearls of Motherhood wisdom?

1. To act from love not fear.

2. To teach my children how to use their intuition.

3. Turn off the Wi-Fi or any phones before bed and take time to be in nature. It is the best balm, teacher and therapy session.

Photos 1 & 4 by Lily Glass Photography and 2, 5 & 6 by Mel Blanchard

Wellness

MEMBER PROFILE: Ali Handley

January 11, 2017
Ali Handley

Name: Ali Handley

Company: BodyLove Pilates

Title: Founder

Website: www.bodylove-pilates.com

Instagram accounts: @alihandley and @bodylove.pilates

Kids: 2

Ali Handley

We love a mama that is focused on bringing wellness and strength to pregnant and postnatal women and we adore Ali Handley for bringing her knowledge to any mama who has access to the internet. Inspired by her own experience with pregnancy and getting in shape post-baby, Ali launched BodyLove Pilates, a prenatal and postnatal studio you can access, anywhere, anytime. Helping mamas feel stronger is her mission and we’re fully on board.

Quote you Love: “A friend is one of the nicest things you can have – and one of the best things you can be.”, Winnie the Pooh

Best advice you’ve ever been given?: Be good to your mother.

You moved to New York City from Sydney 8 years ago. What is the biggest difference between motherhood in the US vs what your friends tell you about motherhood in Australia?

The big difference for me is raising my two small kids without the support of my family. I’m super close to my mom and definitely miss being able to call on her the way I know my girlfriends back home are able to do. I miss out on having last minute childcare, my mom’s company and simply sharing the experience of my kids growing up together. Also, a lot of my friends back home take a full year off when they have babies and in New York I think this is quite rare.

Ali Handley

What was the motivation behind starting your business, BodyLove Pilates?

I found myself asking the question, “Why is it so hard to find information and workouts online?”. I discovered so much misinformation and miseducation about what is a safe and effective exercise during this time, and no one site offered both information and workouts. I came up with the idea of an online “Studio” which was an accessible resource that gave women everywhere the same quality workout I give my private clients in New York. Being a mom, I also know how hard it is to carve out time for myself, so I created workouts that were all around 10-15 minutes long and designed to complement each other if you could steal more time in a day. As a private instructor and mom of two, I am also time poor and my goal with BodyLove is to serve and support a larger population of moms worldwide. I’m excited to begin teaching the BodyLove method to group classes in Manhattan and Brooklyn in February 2017. So stay tuned!

You create maternity and postnatal workouts for mamas. what do you think is the most important thing we can do to get in shape post baby? Are there any exercises you recommend?

Yes! Don’t discount how important it is to stay fit during your pregnancy. Staying active and consistently strengthening your deep core is crucial, and will set you up for a speedy postpartum recovery. During pregnancy, the superficial layer of your abdominals (your 6 pack!) have to divide and separate to make room as your baby grows, stretching a delicate tissue down the midline of your body called the Linea Alba. This separation is called Diastasis Recti . The first step when you have had your baby is to heal this separation and I recommend this healing should start ASAP. I’m a firm believer that the sooner you start, the quicker you will recover! I filmed my recovery in the video, “10 minutes of simple seated deep core exercises everyday” and by the time I had my 6 week check-up, I had closed my Diastasis. Deep core exercises target the muscles of the TVA and pelvic floor and these are the most important ones you need to reactivate to get back into shape.

Ali Handley

What is one mistake that women often make when thinking of getting fit after baby?

The biggest mistake woman make is doing incorrect core exercises; crunches do not give you a flat tummy, in fact, they make it worse and ensure your “mommy tummy” hangs around. I recommend you heal the separation first with consistent and effective deep core exercises. Unfortunately, you cannot rush this recovery and it takes patience and daily exercises. The second mistake is running too early. Running is not recommended for postnatal women for at least 6 months after childbirth. There are lots of ways to get cardio in that doesn’t place so much strain on the joints, particularly the pelvic floor muscles. Instead, try swimming, power walking, barre, spin and of course, pilates!

What are your 3 pearls of mama wisdom?

  1. There’s no blueprint to being a mom, just blue paint everywhere.
  2. Everything is just a phase, good and bad, and this too will pass.
  3. Laugh, love, sing, dance – repeat

Ali Handley

Living, Wellness

Going Places? We’ve Got 8 Things to Do on a Plane to Stay Productive

December 29, 2016
travel tips

via @margoandme

If you’ve had the luxury of unplugging this holiday season, you’ll soon realize that your laundry list of “things to do” is growing by the minute. There’s nothing like starting the New Year off on a clean slate, so take advantage of your last few days and upcoming flight home from the holidays to get yourself centered, organized and on point. The best part about solo time in the air? You are simply more productive. Really! We’ve tapped our friends at MyDomaine for their tried and true tips to be more productive on a plane. We’re ready for you 2017!

8 Tips To Be More Productive

  1. Make a pros-and-cons list. Chances are you’ve got a dilemma that’s preoccupying your thoughts. Take your flight time to write a pros and cons list—and make a decision before you land.
  2. Learn a language. Have a trip to a foreign country on the horizon in the New Year? Take your flight time to learn a few key words and phrases.
  3. Organize your bag. If you left in a rush, chances are your carry-on or handbag is a jumbled mess. Take the time to Konmari the contents of your bag and get everything organized.
  4. Get online and unsubscribe to email lists. Do you have access to in-flight WiFi? Take the time to answer all your emails and, while you’re at it, unsubscribe to all those mailing lists that are clogging your inbox.
  5. Try coloring. You know you want to try it—but can never find the time. Bring a small set of pencils and a coloring book on your next flight—you’ll never want to land.
  6. Plan something. Plan the décor of your next home, a dinner party, a surprise birthday, or a work project. You’ll be surprised how productive you can be during a few uninterrupted hours.
  7. Edit your Instagram photos. If you took hundreds of photos on your trip, use an app like VSCO to edit them and make them picture-perfect. Then, drop them into Planoly to create the perfect Instagram grid.
  8. Try journaling. Write down your thoughts from the trip and keep these memories forever.

Head over to MyDomaine to read the full article including tips to stay healthy or simply be distracted while in the sky.

Wellness

Moms Who Inspire: Thara Natalie

December 19, 2016
image1

Thara Natalie is a music exec, holistic nutritionist, yogi, studio owner and mama and has the most adorable family in the Garden State. We’re inspired by this insta-mama’s quest for living a healthier, more holistic life and we’re hoping some of her good habits will rub off on us as we reach for the 10th cookie of the day this holiday season. New Year’s is just days away now and we’re ready to go into 2017 on a high note. Thanks for getting us motivated Thara!

Thara Natalie

On Following Your Passions: Having our daughter Ayva, was the start of a really amazing journey for me and helped me to find my personal purpose. I had always known that I wanted to help people, getting certified as a holistic nutritionist in 2003 and as a yoga teacher in 2008.  But it was only after the birth of our daughter that it all really came together.  After heaving a healthy pregnancy and being able to get back to feeling my best within just 4 months of delivery, it really inspired me to help others on their weight loss journeys and I started Get Toned with Thara.  In the interim, we also found an amazing space for our yoga studio which we finally opened when Ayva was 18 months old. The opening of the studio was a much longer process than we had anticipated but since opening the doors, it has been one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life. Yoga is  a truly trans-formative process for people both physically and mentally and helping people on their journeys has been my biggest gift.

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On Life Lessons: Let go of the things you cannot change. This is something I learned many years ago but probably didn’t truly put into action until more recently!  My yoga practice really helped me find that inner contentment with those around me. I can’t change you. I can only change how I react to you.  And when you realize that, things become so much simpler. I think as women, we have a tendency to think we can fix everything and everyone around us, but we can’t!  We can only change ourselves. When I understood that, life became much simpler.

On Motherhood: Our amazing tiny humans are born with a personality all their own!  I think before having your own kids, you often see other children and assume that their behavior is related to something that their parents are or aren’t doing. But, then you have your own, and you realize that these little beings are truly born with a mind all their own. We can influence and guide them of course, but they really do have their own ways from the moment they enter the world. Our job as parents, is just to help and guide them to make the best decisions possible. Last summer our daughter fell by the swimming pool and bruised her knee.  After that experience, she didn’t want to wear her bathing suit in the pool because she associated her bathing suit with falling and would only wear her pajamas. Instead of fighting and forcing her to wear the bathing suit, I just let her wear her pj’s in the pool if that meant she was comfortable. It took about 3 months, but she finally got over her fear and put a bathing suit on when we took a trip to Hawaii.  The beauty of it was that I let her feel what she was feeling and eventually she found her way out of it. It was a great reminder that we’ve got to let them have their feelings, even if we don’t always understand them. This experience was also a great reminder to really support other parents because sometimes what we see going on on the outside, isn’t as simple as it may seem to the eye.

 

Fashion, Living, Wellness

This Cult Favorite is the Prescription For Gorgeous Skin and It Doesn’t Come In A Pill

December 14, 2016
bkr

Tal Winter and Kate Cutler are living the dream. Best friends since law school, these two decided to leave their stressful law careers behind and go into business together and launch bkr (pronounced BEE-KER). When faced with toxic (not to mention, ugly) plastic water bottles that did only harm to the environment, Tal and Kate had their “aha” moment.  Why not produce beautifully designed, highly covetable and collectable bottles to replace the trash and help save the world while doing it?  Their celebrity following is enviable, Vogue and Forbes have taken notice and we’re mildly obsessed here in the heymama office.  They’re just two girls who decided to go for it and we’re glad they did.  

bkr

“It didn’t make sense that intelligent, sophisticated people like us were essentially drinking from trash.”

We’re so excited to meet you – we’re big fans of your bottles! What inspired bkr?

We always knew that the prescription for gorgeous skin is sleep and water, but we found ourselves drinking from tons of plastic disposable water bottles. It didn’t make sense that intelligent, sophisticated people like us were essentially drinking from trash. We couldn’t find a reusable bottle we loved, so we decided to make exactly the bottle we wanted: something beautiful, effortless and chic. We knew if we wanted it, other people would too.

What was your biggest challenge in starting the company?

Probably the hardest thing to achieve when starting a company is momentum. You can have a great idea, you can work until you’re falling over, and you can build the best team with the most fabulous people. But, it takes some real magic to gain momentum.

Why do you consider bkr to be a beauty essential?

Simply put, water is the absolute foundation of your beauty regimen. If you don’t drink a lot of water, there’s no point in investing in expensive products! Most people don’t drink enough and if you’re even 2% dehydrated it shows on your skin. bkr helps you drink more water. Our customers always tell us that they’re obsessed, and they’ve never been so hydrated in their lives! We believe bkr is a beauty essential – it’s like a prescription for looking and feeling gorgeous.

bkr

“If you listen to your customers closely, they’ll tell you who you are.”

Why is bkr different than other water bottles?

It’s hard to drink enough water — it’s often considered a chore — but we’ve been told time and time again that bkr is the solution. It makes something as mundane as drinking water a joy. There’s something magical about bkr that changes everything about the way you drink water forever: the combination of how pretty it is, the clean glass bottle, the small mouth — it’s soft and effortless. We describe it as the bottle equivalent of the perfect t-shirt: It feels right and fits right, it’s effortless, and it becomes a staple.

What are your respective roles within the company?

We like to say Tal is the brand voice and Kate is the brand protector. Tal leads the creative direction: her focus is on the brand, product innovation and customer engagement. Kate focuses on strategic growth and distribution ensuring that bkr remains true to the brand, philosophy and mission and also manages bkr’s international expansion.

What sort of marketing have you done to date and what has been the most successful? You mentioned you’ve done a ton of research on marketing of the water industry, but how have you positioned yourself in the marketplace and what tactics have you used?

The most important thing we did was really listen to our customers from day one. If you listen to your customers closely, they’ll tell you who you are. We both did customer service in the beginning and Tal did all the social media for years. We put a lot of effort into writing to bloggers and editors ourselves. Our customers told us bkr was the reason they were finally hydrated and that it was a skin game changer. They were addicted and this was their most loved beauty essential. We listened and now we’re in luxury beauty across the world.

bkr

“Most people don’t drink enough and if you’re even 2% dehydrated it shows on your skin.”

Congrats on your new baby Tal! As busy working mamas how do you make the most of your family time? Any tricks that make the family/career juggle work for you?

Don’t try to be everywhere at once; try to be where you are and be present in the moment. That means that if you’re at home, don’t check your phone, and if you’re at work, try not to worry about your kids every few minutes!

What is the best career advice you’ve ever been given?

Be a problem solver. Don’t just alert your boss or team about a problem: be prepared with three ideas on how to resolve the issue, which you recommend, and why. That’s what really makes you stand out.

Your bottles keep making fashion cameos everywhere from Gisele Bündchen to Natalie Portman! How would you describe your own personal style in 3 words?

Tal Winter: effortless, edgy, relaxed.

Kate Cutler: uniform, timeless, tailored.

bkr

“The water industry took something essentially free, packaged it in trash, and made it sexy. And we looked at the way luxury fashion and beauty brands market themselves. Then we tried to outdo all of them.”

How were you able to market something that is usually so un-sexy like a water bottle as a covetable fashion and beauty accessory?

You might be surprised, but we looked at the way that the water industry markets water — not the way the water bottle industry markets water bottles. The water industry took something essentially free, packaged it in trash, and made it sexy. And we looked at the way luxury fashion and beauty brands market themselves. Then we tried to outdo all of them.

We love that you stay on top of fashion trends with your styles (hello studs!) and colors. How are you able to predict what trends are in the pipeline? Do you use any trend monitoring services or have relationships with the brands?

We’re pop culture, fashion, and magazine junkies. We go to museums, we travel, we surround ourselves with people who are curious, creative, interested and interesting. Our entire team is all that and smart too. We create what we want to have. We imagine what people don’t even know they want yet and we trust our instincts.

What is the startup culture like in San Francisco?

People think it’s homogenous, but there isn’t one startup culture; every company creates their own. At bkr, we try to create a culture of people who like each other, are smart, and genuinely enjoy working together.

Do you have 3 Pearls of Wisdom on Motherhood and Career?

  1. Be where you are. If you’re with your child, be with your child. If you’re at work, work. Everything is a balancing act.
  2. Don’t try to do everything yourself. Ask for help and accept it. Delegate.
  3. You can be an amazing mom and follow your dreams at the same time. (We’re both proof of that!)

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Wellness

How Hawaii Mama Bree Hannemann Manages Gestational Diabetes Through Diet Choices

December 14, 2016
Gestational Diabetes

We’ve been Insta stalking Bree Hannemann for a while now, as her gorgeous photos of her life on Oahu are pretty easy on the eyes. Born and raised in Southern California, she’s been hustling since she started her first bread business as a little girl, and now spends her time as a photographer, creative consultant and blogger. After meeting the love of her life, they soon had their first son together, Sylver. Her journey to having her second child wasn’t as poetic however, as she first suffered a miscarriage, and is now dealing with gestational diabetes with her latest pregnancy. On her blog, Bree has been sharing her story and we love this mama’s honesty and transparency that things are not always as breezy as they seem. Below is an excerpt from Bree’s blog where she shares how she has been managing her gestational diabetes through diet and exercise, and addresses whether or not she’ll keep it up after the baby is born. Read on…

Gestational Diabetes

HOW TO DEAL WITH GESTATIONAL DIABETES THROUGH FOOD CHOICES

Firstly, for those that aren’t aware of what gestational diabetes (GD) is, I will give you a quick run-down. Gestational diabetes develops during pregnancy, ie. gestation. Like other types of diabetes, gestational diabetes affects how your cells use sugar (glucose). Gestational diabetes causes high blood sugar that can affect your pregnancy, and your baby’s health. Any complication or “bad news” during pregnancy can be stressful and quite damaging, but on a positive note, with gestational diabetes, it can be controlled through a healthy diet, exercising, and if necessary, through medication. I made a conscious decision to control my GD through a healthy diet and exercising. I told myself I would not allow medication to take over the last half of my pregnancy. When I say medication I am talking about “insulin.” Also, to be clear, one of the reasons being so on top of GD is because, if a mother decides to neglect a healthier and modified lifestyle during her pregnancy, it could result in having a stillborn. This word alone gives me chills, and I think everyone could agree that a couple changes to your diet and lifestyle is well worth having a healthy baby.

Gestational Diabetes

My diet is simply: sugar-free, carb-free, and gluten-free. (I know, it sounds intense and completely crazy!)

1. Being sugar-free is actually not the hard one for me. But sugar is found in a couple things that people do not realize including, no fruit or juice! This means, no smoothies on a hot day in Hawaii, no juice to go with my meal at breakfast, and no sneaking in on Sylver’s fruit snacks! Sugar is what I am trying to control in my body at this time and although fruit is good for you, it is packed with sugar.

2. Being carb-free is my downfall. I LOVE CARBS. Some of my favorite things to cook with are potatoes and a slice of bread with my Italian meals or a nice hearty sandwich. I love white rice when going to Asian Restaurants (starch is a total killer for sugar levels), pastas, potato chips while hanging out at the beach, etc. I have always been a carb lover, so cutting this out is probably more difficult than the whole sugar deal. After the first week of no sugar, my body doesn’t crave it as much, and I’m able to go throughout my days without daydreaming of it and seeing dancing cookies in the sky.

3. Being gluten-free is difficult because there is nothing better than a nice warm homemade slice of white bread! You would be so surprised how many things you buy have white flour as an ingredient, and you would also be surprised how terrible gluten is for you. So many children at young ages are developing food allergies, and a lot of the time it comes out that gluten is the cause of their bad health, bloating, hives, rashes, swelling, etc. … I now know that even though gluten may not give me hives, or swelling, or any of the other side effects, my body defiantly doesn’t want it. Also, with being gluten-free, I have so much more energy, and I never need a nap. I feel much lighter, and ready for the day in the morning. Gluten tends to make me feel tired and exhausted every single morning as if a train had hit me.

Gestational Diabetes

With the help of a home chef, Bree learned to cut out all of the things that she could control to manage her gestational diabetes. To see recipes and sample meals, continue reading Bree’s blog
Mahalo and happy eating!

Gestational Diabetes

Living, Wellness

Confessions of an “Unpacified” Mom: Mom Guilt

December 1, 2016
mom guilt

We’re thrilled to have Leslie Bruce, heymama member and founder of Unpacified, join us for the first in a series of musings on Motherhood. Leslie strips away the illusion of filtered perfection and offers a real take on what it means to be a working mother. By creating a platform for moms to come together on relatable ground, Leslie wants to make sure that every new mama knows that “Being a mom is everything… but it’s not all there is.” Can we get a heck, yeah! Take it away Leslie…

mom guilt

The idea of covering a single topic under the “working mama” umbrella each week feels a little disingenuous. Our work/home/personal/social/domestic lives are tightly (and mercilessly) woven together. I live my life juggling the consequences of one row of fallen dominoes after the other. There’s no glamour it that; it’s just the way it is. We live in a world where we make 80 cents on the dollar, where maternity leave is considered a disability, where we’re still clawing and scratching our way to equality, while continuing to battle generations of stereotype, generalizations and discrimination. And if I may be so bold to assume, we’re still somehow managing to carry a lion’s share of the responsibilities at home.

That said, I’m not going to try to pigeon hole our experiences, but rather just share mine and hope that it speaks to you in some way that gives you a little comfort, a little laugh or perhaps just the perspective to say “well, I guess shit could be worse.”

The atmosphere in my home varies from day to day, and even hour by hour. It can depend on the time of year, the weather, my daughter’s age, my dog’s bowel movements and the number of times I had to remind my husband to take out the f—–g trash. (Yes, it a cliché, but it’s a cliché for a reason.) There are weeks where I find a really great rhythm, but inevitably, the train goes off the track—as it tends to do—and the clumsy dance begins again.

Through it all, my one constant is this…Mom Guilt.

Which is ironic, because I was certain I’d never ever be “one of those moms.”

mom guilt

When my daughter Tallulah was five-months-old, I was approached with an amazing opportunity: one of my closest friends was developing a new lifestyle book, and wanted me to work on it with her.

Sweet relief! I thought. I was beyond ready to get back to work, but this project wasn’t going to require me to just tuck behind the luminescent glow of a computer screen…it was, unlike so many of my other collaborations, also going to require me to spend a lot of time on set (in addition to behind my desk).

I could not have been more thrilled. At home, I was emotionally spent; my hair was breaking; my body was a challenge (at best), and the hormones were still in command. This new project gave me the chance to be useful, and a reason to shower with a fair amount of frequency.

Simply put: I needed to feel like myself again.

As spring turned to summer, the project went into full swing. From the first week in July through the end of September, I was basically a ship passing my husband (and nanny) in the night. It was a peony-infused hurricane season, fueled mostly by rosé, coffee and cake. In the end, I’m not entirely sure how many days I spent on set…but summer came and went in a warm, ferocious blur.

I was creating and producing. I was opinionated, I was powerful. I was something other than a mother. I was my own woman. It was a necessary thrill.

mom guilt

On one of our final shoot days, I had double booked. I was exhausted, as we all were, and running on empty. It was a Saturday and my saint of a husband was spending his weekend, much like the ones before, hanging out with our chatty, crawling, standing but not walking 11-month old daughter.

She was attending her very first birthday party that day. It was going to be 9,000 degrees in Santa Monica, so I laid out a sleeveless blue pinstripe dress with a red flower, her white sandals and a red bow for her hair…and I went to work.

Being a proud mama (and yes, I could still be a loving and doting mother while still needing this project for my own mental health), I wanted to show her off.  I asked my husband to swing by the set after her party since they would be nearby, so I could introduce her to my friends and co-workers.

When he finally arrived, I ran out to the car. My husband rolled down the window, putting his finger to his lips.

“Shhh!” he said. “She had so much fun…she totally crashed out. I couldn’t keep her up!”

Quietly, I opened the backdoor and looked at my baby—who didn’t look that much like a baby anymore—sound asleep after attending her first party. She looked precious, and happy, and I couldn’t help but think that my little girl would never know that I got to see her in her very first party dress.

I shut the door and thanked him for coming by, but agreed it was best to let her sleep.

He rolled back down the driveway, waving at me with a proud dad smile, relishing in a successful day of firsts, and I walked back inside and began hopelessly re-arranging a vase that had already been perfected.

mom guilt

“Where’s the baby?” my friend Kate asked with a big smile.

“She fell asleep! Too much fun at the party,” I said with a shrug, forcing a smile onto my own lips as the tears began pooling in my eyes. In that moment, I felt so overwhelmingly empty. I had missed out on something that felt so silly, but also so outrageously important. I had missed a moment.

Kate leaned in, scrunched her nose and sighed, “It’s hard, isn’t it?” She was the only other mama on set, with two older kids of her own, and she could sense the unexpected regret I felt.

“It’s ok,” she whispered, rubbing my shoulder. She knew me well enough not to make a big deal out of it. “You’re ok.”

She got it; which meant, she knew it too. I realized this wasn’t just a fleeting sensation. This was one of those crazy motherhood “aha” moments. That’s when the whirlwind finally stopped, and all the pieces that had been swept up came tumbling down into my lap.

I missed my daughter’s first summer. I missed her first crawl. I missed taking her to her very first birthday party. I had missed a lot of firsts…and for a moment, I couldn’t breathe.

In the end, it was the project of a lifetime. Not only was it an amazing experience where I helped produce a beautiful book with wonderful people, it was also the catalyst for my business: Unpacified.

mom guilt

So yes, I’m beyond grateful to have had the opportunity, but I’ll still miss the moments I lost. Even if I one day discover how to “have it all,” I don’t think the guilt ever goes away when I’m not able to be there for my daughter. And until I can figure out how to clone myself, I’m just going to have to get used to feeling a bit guilty. (I can, however, clone a sheep…but that doesn’t do me any good in this scenario.)

For me, recognizing it as the elephant in the room was half the battle. I was embracing the idea that I’m going to let myself down, and that somehow was a relief…

I work.

I need to work. I choose to work. It drives me crazy most days, but it also keeps me sane. Furthering my career and not allowing myself to sideline my own hopes and dreams is critical to my maintaining my own identity and self-worth…which, in turn, will make me a better parent and role model for Tallulah.

And because I work, I’m not always going to be there when I want to be, or when my daughter needs me. I’m usually the first one to say, “Taking time for yourself isn’t selfish…it’s essential”; and while it may be true, it doesn’t necessarily make the guilt go away. We’re intelligent creatures capable of both logic and emotion (except when it’s a Monday night and Chris Harrison announces “This is the final rose of the evening…”)

I’ve learned to live with my Mom Guilt, and even sort of embrace it. I recognize that it’s just a feeling, and that my inability to be all things to all people isn’t going to permanently damage my child (most likely). Being aware of this doesn’t make the feeling go away…but it does make it OK.

I’m not always going to be able to tap dance backwards in high heels. Shit, I’m not always going to make it to the toilet after three shots of fireball and a bottle of wine (Before you get all judge-y, I’ll have you know it was a wedding in the Florida Keys. That sort of behavior is basically required. And I did get to the bathroom…I just cut the corner a little early and landed in the sink.)

In a strange way the guilt is comforting. It reminds me of how very much I love her, and how everything I do, in some shape or form, is for, and will always be for, her.

(Ok, maybe not the fireball.)

mom guilt

Wellness

Arielle Haspel’s 9 Easy Tips To Have A Guilt-Free Holiday

November 21, 2016
healthy holidays

Arielle Haspel is the host of healthy cooking shows, “Treat Yourself” on Glamour Magazine and “Clean Eating” on Healthination. She’s also a weekly contributor for Glamour Magazine and has appeared on national television shows and magazines, including The Doctor Oz Show, NBC’s Today in New York, ELLE, Glamour, People, Seventeen, Women’s Health and WellandGood. Her food philosophy is Healthified Eating – a lifestyle that incorporates fat, protein, carbohydrates, sugar, and dairy, but a just better quality of everything. She believes in filling up your life with clean, colorful, delicious fresh food that will satisfy cravings and balance blood sugar, so you can live a life full of energy and enthusiasm.

Being an expert on balancing her diet, she gave us 9 easy tips for a happy, healthy holiday, without feeling guilty about it.

1. Eat regular meals. Many people “save up” their daily calories around the holidays and then let themselves indulge later at parties and events. Remember, you only get one body in this lifetime. Are you going to treat it with chaotic, intense practices or with love and care? Hopefully the latter! So, don’t skip meals the day of the parties. Instead, eat like you normally do – a big breakfast and lunch with a few healthy snacks in between. This will promote balanced blood sugar and prevent you from overeating later on. No one said you can’t have a few bites of the desserts once you get the party. We just don’t want you having ALL of the desserts, especially right when you arrive! Try this Apple Pie Smoothie  for a yummy holiday breakfast or snack.

healthy holidays
2. Arrive feeling fabulous. Often uncontrollable cravings are linked to your thoughts and emotions – and not necessarily your stomach. So, do whatever it takes to feel good before you walk into that party to offset any holiday anxiety. Instead, try calm and healthy habits: get your hair done, apply an extra coat of mascara and look in the mirror and tell yourself that you’re f-ing fabulous. Oh, and arrive already feeling satisfied, too. We know that holiday parties have especially tempting treats, so instead of arriving hangry, get there already satiated. Eat a protein-packed snack before you show up, like a protein bar, an apple with almond butter or string cheese. Keeping your tummy full and your taste buds happy will keep your eyes off of the rounds of baby hot dogs and (hopefully) your hands off of them, too.

3. Scout out the veggies! Often, people end up eating socially at parties. They just need something to put into their mouths. Sound familiar? Look for the healthiest options, like carrots, celery, fruit and olives and pop that in your mouth. You’ll be less likely to overindulge if you’re munching on fresh crudite. The bonus? No guilt and your dress will still fit at the end of the night!

4. Put it all on a plate. When there’s a tempting buffet style setup or passed hor d’oeuvres, having one serving or appetizer at a time can lead to eating way more than you bargained for. To spatially see everything that you’re going to eat, put all your food on one plate. It will seem more like a filling entrée than than small appetizers and will make you feel much more satiated.

5. Breathe before you eat.  Whether you’re munching on the hor d’oeuvres at a holiday party or at your in-laws house for Thanksgiving dinner, even three deep breaths before you eat can prevent you from eating too much (and too fast). Some people pray or say grace before a meal, but if you’re not on the religious type, just breathe. Hold your plate, look down at your food, take three deep breaths, and say “thank you.” When you take a second or two to become mindful of what you’re about to put in your body and grateful that you have something delicious to eat, you instantly feel a wave of calmness, which can prevent you from overeating and speed eating.

6. Savor every bite. Depriving ourselves of foods we love and ignoring our cravings is a recipe for disaster. Before you know it, the entire pumpkin pie is gone, right?! Try savoring literally each lick and each bite. Here’s how: take a bite (no matter what it is – cake or turkey) and chew it 15-30 times or until it becomes liquid in your mouth. Let it melt in your mouth. Notice the different flavors and textures. Then, swallow with a relaxed mind. If you approach all of your meals this slowly and sensually, you’ll make eating more slowly not only a habit, but part of your lifestyle. Try doing this with some Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Bark. YUM!

healthy holidays

7. Keep your hands full. If you’re drinking alcohol, hold one glass of the hard stuff to keep you buzzed and one glass of water to keep you hydrated. Without an extra hand, you may pass on that unhealthy appetizer you really didn’t want anyway. I love sipping on a crisp glass of sparkling water with a squeeze of lime and cherry. For an extra flair, see if the bar has a sprig of rosemary to make it fun to drink and festive! Your body will thank you the morning after, too.

8. Swap out and healthify. Baking some holiday treats? Simple swaps can do a body really, really good. Try switching out the white sugar with natural sweeteners like coconut palm sugar, dates, honey or maple syrup. Your pumpkin pie will turn out just as sweet, and without the processed sugar. Try this recipe for Butternut Squash Soup using almond milk and maple syrup, instead of cream and sugar.

healthy holidays
9. Be well. The holidays are all about celebration, happiness and friends and family. Focus on taking care of you, first so you’ll feel your best, look your best, and be your best version of yourself.

Happy (and healthy) holidays!

Be Well,

Arielle

healthy holidays

Wellness

4 Easy Tips for Living a More Balanced Life

November 16, 2016
rachel_garahan_one_part_gypsy_04

Too often have we felt the need to declutter and simplify our hectic lives but our good intentions are thrown out the window as quickly as the next email arrives in our inbox.  Creative consultant, lifestyle expert and now author of her new book, A Beauty Collected, Rachel Garahan is our spirit animal when it comes to zeroing in on the important things in life, and truly discovering how to live a life of purpose and meaning. As a self-described, modern-day gypsy, Rachel thrives on finding beauty in the every day and has a knack for coming up with tips for living a more balanced life. Her global adventures have inspired her to share her way of seeing the world through an un-fussy lens, and embracing the art of conscious living.

balanced life

Rachel, congratulations on your new book, A Beauty Collected, it is simply stunning! Can you tell us about it and how it all got started?

Thank you!  It all comes back to a quote I have in the front of the book, “If you can’t name things, how can you know them?”. Vocabulary expands appreciation of our surroundings, and in turn, our language shapes our behavior. You know how when you learn a new word or hear about something for the first time, it starts to pop up everywhere around you? I wanted to create that same experience for nature, to help people notice and connect to the world around them. Especially kids- little ones are already so enthralled with nature, let’s encourage that curiosity! I started working on this book long before I was a mom, but always knew I’d want to teach my baby about the beauty of nature.

We love the idea of embracing a life of whole living. What inspired you to slow down and look at your own life this way?

My dad died when he was 53 (I was 19). It was a huge shock. But from it, I learned to live the life I want now and not put things off for a time that may never come. In both my work and personal life, I’m always looking at things holistically, taking the 10,000 ft view to see how all the parts affect one another, and where current actions might lead in the future. Everything is connected. From that perspective, it makes sense to consume, work, spend, let down, etc in ways that support a common goal.

balanced life

“My dad died when he was 53 (I was 19). It was a huge shock. But from it, I learned to live the life I want now and not put things off for a time that may never come.”

Given that technology is so integral in our daily lives, what are 4 tips we can implement right now that will help us to embrace a more balanced lifestyle?

  1. Technology can be used to fuel us or drain us. The first thing is to notice which is happening for you. Before you hop on the internet, take a moment to consider your intention. Is there a specific purpose you’re looking to fulfill or are you just bored? Afterwards, note how you feel as well. Inspired? Anxious? Better or worse than before? This quick check-in can help to break tech habits that leave us feeling depleted. (On this same note, I’ve found that keeping my phone on silent/ vibrate and turning off all notifications really helps to make sure that I’m only looking at my phone when I really want to.)
  2. Don’t go online until after breakfast. Whether it’s the news, social media, emails or texts, they all color our day. Why not give ourselves an hour or so to just BE, without the clutter of external influences? Journaling, meditation or pulling tarot cards are ways I like to tap into inner energy instead.
  3. Don’t feel like you need a presence on every social media outlet. Between Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, Pinterest and others I don’t even know about, we can spend our whole day updating and staying updated. Instead, pick the 1 or 2 you enjoy most and delete the rest.
  4. Out of sight, out of mind. Despite the above, sometimes I still catch myself reaching for my phone every 30 seconds, and that’s when I know it is time to stick it in a drawer. I’ll leave it there for a few hours, if not the rest of the day/night. I did a 5-day tech break earlier this year and it was life changing. Try it if you haven’t yet (even just 1 day) and see what happens! For a daily detox, I find it’s helpful to charge it in the living room overnight, making suggestion #2 that much easier.

You are an avid traveler and, dare we say, a thrill-seeker? What is the craziest thing you’ve done and how do you balance this “wild side” with your inner zen?  

Thrill-seeker used to be my middle name! I’ve gone skydiving multiple times, bungee jumping, jumped off an 80 ft cliff, hopped in a car or on the back of a bike with many strangers in many countries… the list goes on. I was in my early twenties when I decided I’d tested my luck enough and didn’t want to take those kinds of risks anymore. Getting engaged still posed as a final confrontation to my inner gypsy. In order to be at peace with settling down, I needed my husband to be okay with the fact that if I wanted to go on a crazy adventure at any point down the road, I still could. Of course as soon as we came to that agreement, I’ve never wanted to travel alone again.

balanced life

“Living without self-awareness is like going through life blind, not knowing why we feel a certain way at certain times or why things happen ‘to us’.  To live consciously requires a certain amount of attention and accountability but I believe that leads to a more ‘curated’, and therefore fulfilled life.”

How has your life changed after marriage and starting a family?

We’ve been married for 2.5 years, and have a 1.5 year old. Sure our daily life is scheduled and child-friendly, but amidst that, we regularly question our status quo. How far can we reach outside our comfort zone? How deep can we get with each other? How can we best support each other to grow and learn? We’re constantly supporting each other to be our best selves, and continue to dream big and take risks. Last January, when our son was 5 months old, my husband took leave from work and we moved down to Nicaragua (2 dogs included) to live on the beach for 2 months for no reason other than to simply be with each other. Ultimately that trip inspired us to move out of the city altogether, and in September we moved to a tiny town where we knew no one and had no house until a week before arriving. It’s that kind of risk that excites me now- following my intuition and seeing where it leads.

We love that you follow your heart and follow your desire to live a spontaneous life! What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned while on the road?

I’ve learned that everyone has something to teach you.  Being a Taurus, I can be a serious homebody as I’m very happy in the comfort of my own home. Even as a teenager backpacking through Australia, I’d often want to curl up in my sleeping bag and just read a good book instead of going out with new friends. But every time I said yes to an invitation, I returned with something unexpected.  A wild adventure, hearing someone’s cool life story, a nugget of advice, a helpful connection, a lifelong friendship. There’s always a takeaway if we’re open to it.

You are a big believer in the concept of conscious living.  What is this exactly?

“Curated” is such a buzzword right now, but to me it means all the right stuff (whatever that is for you) and nothing more. In this way, conscious living is about knowing yourself. Knowing your strengths, your style, your shadow side. Knowing how foods affect you, saying ‘yes’ when you feel the pull, and ‘no’ when something doesn’t feel right. As Jung said, “that which we do not bring to consciousness appears in our lives as fate.” Living without self-awareness is like going through life purposefully blind, not knowing why we feel a certain way at certain times or why things happen ’to us’.  To live consciously requires a certain amount of attention and accountability but I believe that leads to a more ‘curated’, and therefore fulfilled life.

How has becoming a mother changed your view of what conscious living means to you and how can others take time to embrace the chaos?

Oh goodness. Becoming a mother turned my life upside down! Mostly because it made me realize how little control I have. I was under the false impression that if I did everything just right, there was the possibility of things happening the way I wanted them to. I can apply this to everything from childbirth to simply getting out the door on time. We call Ben “Jefecito”, our small boss. Surrender has been huge. And sheer lack of minutes in the day has pushed me to prioritize and let go of my perfectionist qualities. I’m not perfect. Not everyone is going to like me. I can’t do it all. Not everything is going to happen the way I like it, but all outcomes are good and serve a purpose. Acknowledging those things has been a huge weight off my shoulders. We’re all just doing the best we can- there is no better than our best.

balanced life

“I was under the false impression that if I did everything just right, there was the possibility of things happening the way I wanted them to.”

We love the idea of stripping away outside stimulus and taking a moment to truly observe and soak in your surroundings. I think we often forget it doesn’t take much to entertain our children and something as simple as paper and crayons can inspire endless conversation starters with our little ones.  Do you have any favorite activities to do with kids?

My favorite thing to do with kids is to simply let them take the lead. For example, my 1 year old is not that into art yet, but I want him to be exposed to it, and see it’s something I value. So every day we spend some time with markers- I’ll doodle while he practices taking the lids on and off, or putting the markers in and out of the box. That’s what is fun for him! With older kids, I’m always interested to see which colors they select while drawing– do they choose the natural ones (like a green and brown tree) or something different? How come?  The answers are always so insightful. For coloring fun with your little ones, attached are some downloads I created to help kids name things in nature. You can use them as a scavenger hunt, kids can cut them out to decorate their doors/windows, use them to create banners or mobiles with found objects like twigs and string. Whatever the activity is, remember it’s all an opportunity for conversation, to discover what’s in their mind, and let them take the creative lead.

Who are your mama inspirations?

My older sister has a son who is 9 months older than mine so she’s been an incredible wealth of inspiration and advice (not to mention hand me downs!) I’m also so grateful for my mama friends who aren’t afraid to be real. These ladies keep me sane and make the long days fun! I’d love to be mama friends with Selma Blair. Her Instagram is the best. And of course, my own Mom. She has the gift of knowing how to make anything feel special and fun.

Words you live by or quotes you love?

“Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, Simplify.” – Thoreau

“We must be still and still moving.” – T.S. Eliot

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” – Annie Dillard

We think that we have a technology cleanse in our future, thanks to Rachel. It’s so easy to get caught up in the demands of our daily life but as Rachel points out, it’s within our control to make a change and something as simple as taking a deep breath and really taking in your surroundings, slowing down to the beauty of nature (the colors, the smells, the sounds) can make the biggest impact.

Looking for some easy things to share with your little one or keep them out of trouble while you shoot off that last email?  Rachel has designed these gorgeous downloadables exclusively for heymama.  Simply color, cut and create!

Wellness

Double Duty! Dinner For Man And Baby In 20 Minutes

November 3, 2016
steph-in-the-kitchen-2

Stephanie Middleberg is one of New York City’s most sought-after health experts. The founder and owner of Middleberg Nutrition, she and her team offer nutritional counseling, consulting, and cooking classes to individuals and families. Stephanie is also the author of The Big Book Or Organic Baby Food: Baby Purees, Finger Foods, And Toddler Meals for Every Stage. When she isn’t working with her clients or media outlets, Stephanie enjoys eating and playing with her toddler Julian, jogging with her husband Andrew, and concocting recipes in the Middleberg Nutrition Test Kitchen.

steph-cooking

In an ideal world, we would all sit down by 6pm and have a delicious meal over incredible conversation. Problem is, that’s not always reality as we are all busy with different schedules, jobs, etc. Throw a little one (or more) into the mix and getting a healthy, yummy dinner on the table can seem like a huge undertaking.

As a mom myself, I completely understand the anxiety about putting food on the table for your kids and trying to navigate the land of nutrition for adults and babies. I also feel the added weight of my day job as a dietitian urging me to be an exemplary chef for my little guy. If there’s one thing I know without a doubt, it’s that your little one’s are no different, really, than we are and cam abide by the same food philosophy.

Time is the second most important thing in your world right now (sorry, honey!) and it seems like we never have enough of it. When you factor in that you are making the same foods for you and your little one’s and you have the tools/ideas to make things relatively quickly, it doesn’t seem as big of an undertaking. Modifying your meals for your baby doesn’t require much work. In fact, I believe that kids and parents can and should eat the same food. This is easier said than done when starting them young (ideally in the first year during their “flavor window,”).  Baby food doesn’t need to be bland and basic. In fact, that sets kids up to want muted flavors.  The more flavors you offer early on, the more likely your baby will enjoy a variety of foods later.  My son loves foods with very strong flavors and he can’t get enough of anything that has onion in it! You don’t need to purchase different foods for the baby just make a few simple modifications, like changing the texture and a few spices, as well as perhaps adding an extra side dish for your ravenous hubby who hasn’t eaten all day 😉 For example, my husband loves to make his own Sriracha mayo and adding it to a baked potato and I love tahini dressing. The types of herbs and spices you choose are up to you.  For those pickier eaters, it’s not too late. It can take over 20 exposures of a certain food for babies to try something new. Just make at least one food item you know they like and expose them to new foods, like the meal you are preparing for yourself and husband!

Balanced nutrition.

Offering your family a varied diet from key superfoods is the best way to make sure everyone’s getting what they need to grow strong and healthy. Here are a key nutrients in these recipes and beyond.

Fat: Found in full-fat dairy products, avocados, nut butters, olive oil, egg yolks and coconut. They help the body absorb key fat-soluble vitamins and also helps with brain and nerve development.

Iron: stores are diminished by the time babies are 6 months old so its is important to get this mineral through food. Key sources are meat, fish as well as vegetarian sources like egg yolks, legumes, tofu and green leafy veggies.

Omega -3 Fatty Acids: This essential fatty acid is important for brain development.

Zinc: Zinc is helpful for keeping baby’s immune system strong and for skin healing. Found in animal products and vegetarian sources like legumes and eggs.

Below are some of my favorite recipes to get you started!

Spinach and Pepper Frittata

This is a great vegetarian meal filled that takes under 15 minutes to make and you can customize your frittata with any vegetable, cheese the family likes!

*Add on a side of roasted squash (purchase them pre-cut and cubed so all you need to do is season with salt, pepper and olive oil. Roast at 450 for roughly 15-20 minutes. You can also make a little mix green salad.

Makes 4 Servings

frittata

Ingredients:
8 eggs
¼ cup milk
½ tsp. sea salt
¼ tsp. black pepper
Pinch nutmeg
2 tbsp. olive oil
½ onion, chopped
½ red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 cups baby spinach
3 garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese

Directions:

1. Preheat the broiler.

2. In a medium bow, whisk together the eggs, milk, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Set aside.

3. In a large, ovenproof sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add the onion and bell pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetable soften, about 5 minutes

4. Add the spinach and cook, stirring constantly, until it wilts, about 1 minute. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds more.

5. Carefully pour the egg mixture from step 2 over the vegetables. Cook over medium heat until the eggs start to set around the sides. Using a rubber spatula, carefully pull the edges of the eggs away from the sides of the pan, tilt the pan, and allow any runny eggs to run into the sides. Cook until the sides start to set again.

6. Sprinkle the frittata with Parmesan. Transfer to the broiler. Broil until the frittata puffs and the cheese browns, 3 to 4 minutes. Store unoffered portions to the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

 

White Bean and Butternut Squash Stew

Hearty and comforting, this is a family-friendly stew to warm everyone up on a cool winter night.  To save some time I recommend buying frozen organic butternut squash chunks and thaw 2 cups overnight. This stew is a great source of plant based protein, zinc, iron, potassium and beta-carotene.

* Add on: I recommend purchasing pre chopped (or frozen) cauliflower rice. Whole foods and Trader Joes have their own versions to add to the stew or for a more hearty side you can purchase organic heat and eat grains like Suzie’s organic or Lundberg Farms.

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

2 tbsp. Olive oil
½ onion, finely chopped
½ butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into ¼-inch dice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 14-ounce can white beans, drained
1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
½ tsp. dried rosemary
¼ tsp. sea salt

Directions:
1. In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add the onion and butternut squash. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft, 5-7 minutes.

2. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

3. Add the beans, tomatoes, rosemary, and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Store unoffered portions in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

 

Maple-Glazed Salmon with Roasted Green Beans

I love it because it is full of nutrients including omega-3 fatty acids, iron, vitamin C and B vitamins.

* You can add on a side of cauliflower or sweet potato mash for the whole family or a heat and eat grain like above!

Makes 4 servings

Photo via @thecrunchyradish

Ingredients:

For the Beans
1 pound green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ tsp. sea salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper
For the Salmon
¼ cup pure maple syrup
¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce
Juice of ½ lemon
4 (4-ounce) salmon fillets, skin removedDirections:

To make the green beans

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.2. In a large bowl, toss the green beans with the olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Place the beans in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes.

To Make the Salmon

1. Preheat the broiler.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, soy sauce, and lemon juice. Marinate the salmon in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.

3. Remove the salmon from the marinade and place on a broiler pan. Broil the salmon until opaque, 3-5 minutes. Store unoffered portions in the refrigerator for up to 3 day

kitchen-spread
Professional photos by Ana Gambuto