You can’t ignore the fact that heymama member Linda Sannesmoen is drop dead gorgeous. But, after spending time getting to know her, she is one of the most inspiring mamas we’ve had the pleasure of interviewing yet. From her traumatic neck injury that redirected her career to her passion for humanitarian efforts like slave trafficking and people who are visually impaired, Linda is one woman who is making big changes for her family and beyond. We love the care that Linda takes to teach her children to pursue big ideas to the way that she doesn’t take any moment living in the big city for granted. Linda is someone who makes you pause and evaluate your own life path and you know she’d be a cheerleader every step you take. We wanted to know more about how she get’s her days started with her healthy routines but ended up learning so much more about what drives this incredible woman. Read on…
What is your background and how did you become interested in living a healthy lifestyle?
I grew up on a farm in the southern coast of Norway. My childhood was filled with fresh air, local food, and playing, hiking, skiing and riding in the woods. So being active, close to nature and eating local, real food are values that have stayed with me ever since.
When I was 17 and a gymnast, I jumped a double salto and landed on my neck. My diagnosis said I had a 4% chance of being a lifelong invalid. From working out 10 hours a week, most of them as an instructor in aerobic, dance and gymnastics, my life came to a halt. The neck injury gave me years of chronic back pain, lack of flexibility and constant headaches. Having two kids only 1.5 years apart added to the challenges. My back health was poor, and affected my life negatively in many ways. I missed living a happy and healthy life without pain.
Then I met the world’s best Pilates instructor, who changed my life. I got hooked on this form of exercise and a transforming rebuilding process started. Improved health led to improved life quality and an urge to help others do the same. I started to teach Pilates and communicate a healthy lifestyle. Last year I started Lindalike where I spread happy and healthy lifestyle inspiration. My mission is to empower and inspire people to make healthy choices.
Wow! That is such an inspiring story. What time do you wake up? During the week? On the weekends?
I usually sleep seven hours. I get up around 7am during the week, and an hour later on the weekends. I also nap, and I am proud of it! I learned it when I was a full-time student with five jobs (and a neck injury). I took advantage of that nap skill when I had two babies within a short time. Those rests are gold. For yourself, your kids, your partner, your work, let’s just say – naps make the world a better place!
I can still take a nap whenever. I’m gone for 15-17 minutes, then I bounce back with new energy and fully loaded batteries. A nap during the day makes it possible for me to hammer away on my computer for hours into the evening, after the kids have gone to sleep. No guilt or shame, naps are highly effective and personally recommended.
What is your weekday healthy routines like?
I wake up and use a couple of minutes to just listen to the city’s energy outside; it’s contagious, fills me up. I jump into leggings, tank top and warm wool socks. I apply natural face oil on my way to the kitchen. I drink plenty of water and eat some nuts. Then I sip black coffee while I throw greens in the blender. My kids wake up to the sound of frozen mango going smooth.
After taking the kids to school I go for my daily fix: hot power yoga at YogaSpark. It´s 100% me time, where I battle myself and my limitations, always ending up with a sweaty smile, feeling like an explorer that has reached the pole! One shower later I´m ready to deal with anything my inbox has lined up for me.
Do you have any daily mantras or affirmations?
When I grew up, my good old grandpa always made a toast during family dinners. It was a toast that reminded us that the most important thing we have in life, is good health. Life has taught me that he was so right. My neck injury gave me a huge setback and a constant reminder to appreciate and work for good health. When I get sick or over-stretch my hamstring at yoga class for example, my life quality drops for days.
Probably inspired by my grandpa, my daily mantra is: Do more of what makes you healthy and happy. In my everyday life that means; drink smoothies, stretch the body and mind, eat mostly greens, lift others, smile to strangers and for goodness sake: take a nap!
How do you avoid the morning frenzy and remain calm and centered while getting the kids out the door?
Morning glory is a challenge. My solution has been to be my family’s morning butler for many years. Now I’m slowly tip-toeing out of that role. My kids are getting older and more independent, they’re starting to know what to do, and when, before heading to school.
To avoid morning frenzy, preparation is key. On an ideal day I prepare outfits and backpacks the evening before. I wake up fully rested to an organized kitchen and enjoy my coffee in silence. I put on some chill music and even light some candles, before turning on the blender and waking up my tribe. Other days, I run around shouting reminders, looking for the lunch box, with smoothie in my hair.
You shared with heymama that you, “raise [y]our kids in a home full of ideas and joy of building; lego, each other, texts, brands and companies.” We find that so powerful. What can other mamas do to follow the same mission?
We live in ever changing times in an ever changing world. l tell my kids that their future profession is probably not created yet. That humans are builders. And that life is similar to lego. We build ourselves, our relations, our work and futures.
As entrepreneur parents, we love to feed our kids the feeling that everything is possible. That we should build the change we wish to see in the world. We emphasize being creative. To be bold. And to dare to risk.
Some people build safe lives, they build their houses with four walls and a dog in the garden. Others build towers, more risky; but that might be worth it. A few go further, invest a lot of time, building skills and creative power to build something no-one has ever seen before. Then they connect their creation with technology, maybe even artificial intelligence.
I want my kids to see that people who build ordinary lives, can live very safe and good lives. But if you want to build something outstanding, you have the freedom to do whatever you want. Then there are a lot of things to be sacrificed. The same goes for friendships, relationships and partnerships. To build strong relations that last needs heart, nerve, focus and dedication.
What supplements or vitamins do you swear by?
I boost my smoothies. That’s because I like the idea that my loved ones have all their nutritional needs covered before leaving our home in the morning. So I add seed oil, super greens and plant based protein powder.
Otherwise I’m a believer in, and promoter of, eating as natural, organic, whole, real food as possible.
To build strong relations that last needs heart, nerve, focus and dedication.
Yes! I call it the Lindalike Rise & Shine Smoothie. It makes four servings and includes:
Organic frozen mango chunks 400g
Organic fresh pressed apple juice 500mL
Organic coconut water 200mL
1 scoop of vanilla yoghurt (makes it even more kid friendly)
1 scoop of supergreens
1 scoop of plant-based protein
1 spoon of flax oil
It sounds yummy! If you could design your perfect daily menu, what would you eat for…
Breakfast: A green nutrition-dense smoothie (like the one above!). To hydrate and fill up with vitamins, antioxidants, fat, protein and fiber.
Lunch: Salad or bowl. I’m hooked on poke bowls at the moment, with kale, raw salmon and soy-ginger sauce. It’s filling and tasty brain food.
Snack: At home I dip raw greens in guacamole and hummus. With my coffee I enjoy big spoons of peanut butter. On the move I always carry nut milk, raw juice, almonds or energy bars in my purse.
Dinner: Warm soup with greens and herbs, preferably asian and spicy.
Our kids are pretty picky eaters. What do you feed them for breakfast and how do you encourage healthy eating habits?
My kids drink smoothies for breakfast, often accompanied by a whole grain energy bar with nuts and seeds, sweetened by honey. Ideally home made by me, but often bought at Whole Foods.
To encourage healthy eating habits I like to wrap the information into engaging kid-friendly stories. I tell them that the food we eat is broken down to small building blocks, that make up our basis for energy and concentration. That these building blocks are almost like lego, with different characteristics and colors. So if proteins are red, fats are yellow, carbs are blue and vitamins are green, we need to keep our belly colorful. A colorful meal protects us from intruders (bacteria), keeps us healthy and growing, and keeps our energy and concentration up. The less colorful the meal, the less protection we have against catching a cold, breaking a leg or freaking out over a math problem at school. I also tell them how sugar operates as a thief in our body, which sucks color from the building blocks. That way, sugar is stealing our energy and concentration. And we don’t want that, do we?
What gurus do you look to for inspiration?
One of the most inspiring human beings I know is my mentor and dear friend Morten Hvaal. He is an internationally acknowledged documentary photographer, a biker and a humble gentleman. He’s been working around the globe for 30 years, covering wars and humanitarian crisis. He was always there when it happened. Living on the edge, risking his life for a bigger purpose. Back home in Norway we worked together on a commercial film, he behind the camera, me in front. He came up with the idea to start my healthy lifestyle profile @lindalike, and he became my photographer and partner in this project. There is only one @mortenhvaal, and I am so damn lucky to work with him. Morten’s true stories give me perspectives and insight that enrich my soul and encourage me to be a greater human. I personally recommend to go check out his gallery, follow him – you can even sign up for a photo workshop with him in Sarajevo. It will change your life.
I’m also forever thankful to have met my fitness guru Trine Tchudi. She introduced me to Pilates and a transformation process began. Her customized exercises had a therapeutic effect on my neck injury, which brought me back to an active lifestyle, without pain. I was obsessed with pilates and if it could change my life, it could certainly help others too. I started to teach pilates and witnessed back pain, poor posture and extra pounds disappear from my clients. I got hooked on empowering and inspiring others to make healthy choices.
When it comes to nutrition, my wisdom guru is a Norwegian doctor, author and mother of six kids. I have read everything she has written about health benefits of eating clean natural food. Berit Nordstrand is a fantastic woman and huge contributor to better health in Norway. I highly recommend her books, which are now being translated into English!
Do you see any holistic healers?
Well, I have a new friend who is a holistic healer, and our conversations are very inspiring. She is an expert at helping women discover and explore their life purpose, so they can find meaning and direction in their life. A lot of women go through periods where they seem to have it all (husband, kids, home, career) but still feel unhappy. Emma does one-on-one intuitive empowerment coaching and group classes. She is a coach, mama-mentor, emphatic counselor, speaker and writer. And I’ve just recruited her to the heymama community, go check out Emma Lundwall!
What’s your beauty secret/obsession right now?
No beauty product can do what hot power yoga does! What makes me feel good also makes me look good, as I believe happiness is the most beautiful thing I, and anyone else, can wear. I get out of hot yoga class with a big sweaty smile, feeling like a rockstar.
Before moving to NYC I had hardly put my feet in a yoga studio. I was hooked at pilates and had also taught it for several years. But yoga, nah, too spiritual, I thought. And not very dynamic, to just stand there in a dumb pose for what felt like forever..
Now I’ve found my form and my kind of studio: YogaSpark. It’s hot, fun, playful, challenging and 100% sweat-dripping. Vinyasa flow in a warm room with black light and awesome music. Battling my own strength and flexibility in the dark heat, means I have to keep focusing on my breath to not pass out. That results in an elevated feeling of presence, and a mental break from the big world out there.
And best of all? The rapid progress and improvements. Stronger, leaner, longer. Today I could do a pose that I was not even close to, only two weeks ago. Dealing with my own limits in the heat is definitely my current obsession. It makes me better, inside out.
The owner of YogaSpark, Lauren Porat, has managed to build a strong community of enthusiasts, a happy place that stands out in the NYC yoga jungle. I´m happy that she´s now a new member of our heymama community!
You encourage gratefulness in your family. What specific actions do you take to give thanks?
A couple of years ago I gave my kids their own Thankfulness Diary. Small hardcover books, to collect what they’re thankful for. We write in it together at bedtime. My kids tell me things about their day, they dictate while I write. It’s a great way to sum up and be aware of things that are filling up their minds. The focus is on things they are thankful for that day. Something nice someone said, or did. A new accomplishment. A secret gift they’re making for me at art class. It’s a perfect end to the day, to fall asleep feeling thankful.
I see this bedtime routine as a great opportunity to practice gratefulness. I believe gratefulness is an important life skill for achieving happiness. A magic ticket to stay in touch with your values and not take things for granted. A skill that can be learned, practiced and developed. No one can ever be too grateful.
Your master thesis was about Human Trafficking and you now lead a non-profit project that works for social benefits. Tell us more about that.
Human Trafficking is a brutal reality in our global world. I wanted to understand modern slavery by listening to the voices of the three involved parts; the victims of trafficking, the sex buyers and the traffickers. I ended up interviewing foreign women who identified themselves as victims of sex trafficking, at secret shelters in Norway. I interviewed men who buy sex from foreign women in Norway. I also interviewed one trafficker in prison; he had sold around 20 women from Eastern Europe into prostitution in Norway.
My material, the results and conclusions became an important contribution of knowledge to this field at the time. I also made a public awareness campaign on the subject, and started a book project with the biggest Norwegian publisher. I applied for PHD with the intention of going on with my research on modern slavery.
Then life happened, I became a mom, and plans changed. I put the book project and the PHD on the shelf for a more flexible work situation. As my husband was an entrepreneur and kept founding start-ups, he threw marketing tasks to me. I liked working with marketing for start-up companies, helping them to find identity and become visible.
I started a non-profit project where the mission is to credit startups that take social responsibility. Entrepreneurs with green or humanitarian initiatives can apply and receive different kinds of support, such as free accounting systems and access to a pool of likeminded potential partners and investors.
My newest charity project is developing a “fair pair” marketplace for glasses. Did you know that 2.5 billion people in this world needs glasses? Of these 624 million people cannot learn to read, or perform work, because of their visual impairment. Through this new concept you can buy a pair, and give a pair- to someone in need.
Charity is always in my heart and on my mind. We do a lot but we can all do more. Like supporting and volunteering in ideal organizations, funds and good causes that already exists. But also create new possibilities for charity in our consumer habits and our business. Last but not least, we should plant charity seeds in our little ones hearts and minds.
Photos by Renee Choi
Let them be little. Fill their hearts with laughter. Help them grow wings. Nurture their sense of wonder. Tell them important stuff their way. Inspire them to build.
Write a Thankfulness Diary with them.
Love them like there’s no tomorrow.