All Posts Tagged ‘food

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This Christmas

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I’ve had two things in the back of my mind for the past few weeks that I’ve been wanting to write about. You could call them rules or guidelines, but basically they’re just two things that I would like to sit down and talk with you about over some hot coffee. I can’t do that, but I’d love to hear what you think, so please feel free to leave a comment.

  1. Be mindful of what goes in your mouth. This is something that I try and practice all the time but especially during the holidays, when there are more parties and treats around than usual. Rather than completely withholding from any and every treat that passes by, and rather than indulging in every single treat that passes by, make intentional and conscious choices about which off-plan foods are ‘worth it‘ for you. Avoid automatic eating, like bowls of snack foods (chips, popcorn, candies) that are easy to consume in large quantities without even realizing it. Avoid high sugar and high alcohol drinks that quickly lead from one drink to three or four drinks. When you make an intentional and conscious choice to enjoy something that you know is not the most nutrient-dense choice for your body, go ahead and enjoy it. Please don’t try to work out how many burpees you need to do to burn off however many calories you consume in that off-plan choice. (It doesn’t work that way anyway, so don’t waste your time.) Please don’t call it a ‘cheat’, or label it as a bad choice or bad food. Be mindful about your choice, and then enjoy the heck out it.
  2. Be mindful of what comes out of your mouth. ‘Tis the season for adults all over North America to be saying things like, “As soon as the holidays are over, I’m starting a diet”, “I really need to work off all these holiday sweets”, “I’m really packing on the pounds this Christmas”, etc. Here’s the thing: your children can hear you. And they are learning to associate the holidays with gaining weight, and the New Year with losing weight. Mamas, they see you cringe at yourself when you look in the mirror and they hear your big, discontented sigh. If you’re going to drink eggnog in front of your children, just drink it. Don’t drink it and then talk about how many calories are in it and how far you’ll run tomorrow to ‘burn it off’. They are putting it all together in their sweet, innocent minds, so let’s be mindful about the words we use to describe our food choices. Eat your food, and focus on the more important things like family, connection, traditions, and joy.

(Read a lot more about the way we talk with our kids about food and exercise here. It’s something I’m super passionate about, and I would love to hear your opinion!)

Keep these things in mind, and enjoy your holidays. Merry Christmas from my family to yours!

 

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Healthy Holiday Tips

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Every Wednesday morning I lead a walking/running class at Breakaway, a program that runs out of North Langley Community Church. For this week I’ve been asked to speak for about 5 minutes to the collective group of women and give them some fun and light healthy holiday tips.

I met with my sidekicks Jessica and Sheena and we came up with 5 simple tips for staying on track during the holiday season, and they encouraged me to share them on this blog as well, so here you go (the long version)…

  1. WATER. Don’t forget to drink it. ‘Tis the season of hot drinks – and usually these drinks are full of sugar, dairy and alcohol. It feels natural and instinctive to drive through the Starbucks drive through a few extra times during the Christmas season, and to almost always have a red cup in hand while grocery shopping or running errands. I’m not against the occasional fancy Christmas drink and I’m certainly not against coffee, but I am strongly against mindless, excessive consumption. My advice is this: pay attention to how much you are consuming. Choose consciously. Enjoy every sip, but enjoy less of it. A cup of coffee when you wake up in the morning is fine, but you don’t need one every time you leave the house, or every time you sit down to relax, and you don’t need 4 glasses of wine at the Christmas party. One will do. If and when your hand feels empty (I’ve noticed that for many people, it just feels natural to be holding a drink in their hand), replace those extra drinks with WATER. Water is your friend! Try it with lemon or fruit in it. If you want something hot, try herbal tea. Keep flushing out all that extra sugar and caffeine that most people ingest during the holidays by drinking water, water, and more water.
  2. SLEEP. More than water, sleep is your best friend. It’s healing and restorative in so many ways. It’s essential for full enjoyment of the holiday season. Aim for 8-10 hours on as many nights as you possibly can. If you start to feel sickness coming on, rest and sleep as much as you can. Sleep heals. Moms with young children and those who struggle with insomnia – just do the best you can. About an hour before you want to fall asleep, turn down the lights in your home. Put away your phone and laptop, and make sure there are no lights on in your bedroom, including computers or digital clocks.
  3. JUST ONE BITE is okay. This one is something that Jessica mentioned she learned while doing her Whole30 challenge. She explained that the permission to STOP eating something if you don’t like it really made a difference. For example, if you’re at a Christmas party and you fill your plate with Christmas goodies. and then take a bite of something and don’t like it, you don’t have to finish it. For some of us, this can be revolutionary. Give it to your partner, or throw it out. Don’t finish it just for the sake of finishing it. Let it go. Eat something if you really enjoy it, and don’t eat it if you don’t enjoy it. Sounds simple, but next time you’re at a party, be mindful of what you’re tasting and see how often you eat something even if you don’t really enjoy it. It happens more often than we think!
  4. CROWD OUT. One of the first techniques I discuss with clients is the “crowding out” rule. When you fill your plate during a meal, start with the healthy options. Fill your plate with protein, vegetables and fruit FIRST. Eat what’s on your plate, and then decide if you need or want anything else. Crowd out the less healthy food with healthy food. The more you fill your stomach with nutrient dense, filling food, the less space there is for empty, useless food.
  5. MOVE. Move your body as often as you can, in as many ways as you can. Find a way that you like to move your body: dancing, running, walking, hiking, yoga, etc. The possibilities are endless. Think outside the box! Jessica and Sheena had the cute and clever idea of making up short, effective workouts to do while your Christmas baking is in the oven. A quick scan on Pinterest led to these, and there are many more ideas out there.

A favourite fun exercise that the three of us love is called the Squatty Potty. Make a pact with a couple of friends to do the Squatty Potty challenge for a full week. The challenge is to do 10 (or more!) squats every time you use the washroom. It’s silly and light hearted, but a good way to get moving. Every little bit helps!

Take care and enjoy this wonderful Christmas season with your friends and family.

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Brussels Sprouts + Potatoes + Eggs

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If you follow my blog then you know by now that I eat weird things for breakfast, including brussels sprouts. Roll with it. And try it!

This recipe is relatively quick, filling and delicious. We especially love having this breakfast right before a hike, like we did this past week.

She asked for 5 eggs; we settled on 3.

She asked for 5 eggs; we settled on 3.

Hiking Mount Seymour

Hiking Mount Seymour

charleyhike

Make this recipe quicker by doubling or tripling the potatoes and brussels sprouts so you can reheat them throughout the week. The following recipe serves 2 very hungry people, and is Whole30 approved.

Ingredients

2 cups diced golden or red potatoes

2 cups halved brussels sprouts

1 tbsp paprika

2 tsp arrowroot powder

2 tbsp coconut oil

salt and pepper, to taste

4-6 eggs (2 or 3 per person)

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, toss the potatoes in 1 tbsp of melted coconut oil.
  2. Add the paprika, arrowroot powder and salt, and toss again until the potatoes are evenly coated.
  3. Heat a large pan on medium heat and add 1 tbsp coconut oil. Add the potatoes and fry for 5 minutes.
  4. Add the brussels sprouts and stir in the pan to combine. Continue to fry the potatoes and brussels sprouts for approximately 10 more minutes, or until potatoes start to crisp and cook through. Be sure to stir every few minutes.
  5. When the potatoes and brussels sprouts are almost finished cooking, prepare your eggs. My favourite way to eat them is poached, on top of the potatoes and brussels sprouts. (For instructions on how to poach an egg, click here.)
  6. Serve your potatoes and brussels sprouts in a bowl or on a plate, with your eggs. Enjoy!
Ta da!

Ta da!

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Perfectionism

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2015EWGLIST

The EWG (Environmental Working Group) recently released the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen chart for 2015, and I’m thrilled. For those that don’t know, the Dirty Dozen are the fruits and vegetables that are sprayed with the most pesticides and should be bought organic if at all possible. The Clean Fifteen are the fifteen fruits and vegetables that are sprayed with the least amount of pesticides, which makes them less harmful and at a lower priority for buying organic.

This chart is a practical tool and it represents something that I’m passionate about: you don’t have to have perfect health to be healthy. You don’t need to do it all, buy it all, eat it all, and engage in every single exercise regime. You do need to do the best you can with what you have.

Perfectionism runs rampant in the world of health and fitness and I believe it causes a lot of damage. I follow a lot of popular health bloggers on Instagram and many of them present their world as perfectly healthy. Their Instagram feeds are filled with photos of perfect meals, perfect abs (more on why you won’t find that on my Instagram feed later), and a perfect life. There is nothing wrong with presenting the best parts of your life to the world of social media, and I do appreciate the positive messages they are sending out to the world. I appreciate them as role models. But I want to present something different here, in my space that I’m creating for you.

In my space, my blog, my sessions with clients and my Instagram feed, I want you to find inspiration for living a healthy, balanced life. I want to show you and my clients that you can have a healthy lifestyle with work, family, and all the stress life throws at us. I want to prove to you that my way of living doesn’t have to be difficult or tedious, and that I don’t miss out on things. It doesn’t have to be everything and it doesn’t have to swallow up things you enjoy. It doesn’t need to be all consuming. If it is all consuming, you are striving too hard for perfectionism, and that is a dangerous path. It doesn’t need to be perfect.

Don’t look to me for perfection, because you will not find it. I gave up that goal years ago, after torturing myself to get there and never quite making it.

Food

I’ll be very honest with you. It is a struggle for me to let go of not always eating perfect food. For awhile, I would often want to avoid certain situations where the food wasn’t deemed “perfect” in my mind. If it were up to me, if I lived alone, and if I had all the time and money in the world, then I would probably strive to eat perfectly, all the time. I naturally gravitate to that, from years of disordered eating. But you know what? I wasn’t created to live that way and you weren’t either.

Sometimes moments in our lives are more important than the food that goes into our mouths. We are hardwired to connect with each other. We crave it and we need it in our lives. And often, these connections happen around food. Family get togethers, birthdays, inviting people over to your house to share a meal, famous recipes handed down through generations. These all have food involved, and if you want to be part of it, you’re going to have to give up your goal of perfection.

I have a small group of really really really close girl friends. We’ve been friends our entire lives and we share everything with each other. Every couple of months we get together for an evening and we drink wine, eat chocolate and talk for hours. One of us is a fabulous baker and she often brings something delicious for us to nibble on. This is a really important ritual of ours and one that brings us closer and closer every time. I participate wholeheartedly and treasure our time together. I certainly don’t consume alcohol, chocolate and fresh baking every day, therefore I enjoy it when I do have it. I do the best I can in my every day life to feed my body all the nutrients it needs to run at it’s best, and then, when certain situations arise like those times with my close friends, I relax and value my real life connection with them over the food I am putting in my mouth and over my ideas of perfection in food. I honour the fact that food is not first in my life. (By the way, I didn’t wake up one day and just figure out how to do this. Finding that balance took years and part of what I do is help my clients find their balance.)

I have an incredible daughter. She’s almost 4, full of life and ice cream brings her so much joy. I often opt out of ice cream as it’s not a favourite of mine. But this past summer we escaped for a family trip to Whistler and when she looked at me and asked me to have some ice cream with her, I could see in her eyes that this moment was important to her. She wanted to have a special moment with her mommy, sitting outside, licking our melting and dripping ice cream and giggling together. I really didn’t want any, but you bet I said yes and enjoyed every bit of it with her. No, I won’t do that every weekend. I won’t say yes every time she wants ice cream. But that day, I honoured the moment with my daughter over my idea of perfect food and perfect health.

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Back to the EWG list. I appreciate lists like the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen because it leaves room for differences in priority, lifestyle, income, etc. Yes, we would all love to be able to buy everything fresh, perfect and organic, but some of us cannot. This list represents a movement toward doing the best you can, but leaving room for imperfection.

Exercise

I love working out. I really do. I’m one of those weirdos that loves the feeling of sore muscles and I love challenging my body to do things I never thought it could do. I love feeling strong and I love being able to keep up with my energetic kids. However, my workouts are not everything. They do not come first and they do not take priority over my sanity and my overall health. Because I have two children and a part time job, right now my only option for gym time is to wake up and leave my house at 5:30 AM to be home in time for my husband to leave for work. Because that is SO early (and I’m not a morning person!), I have a rule that I only go if I have had adequate sleep the night before. If I’m not asleep by 10 PM the night before, then I will most often skip the early morning gym time. I believe proper sleep is one of the most important factors in our overall health, so therefore it takes priority over my early morning gym time. I have a “perfect” workout schedule that I aim for each week, but LIFE happens and I just do my best.

Struggling to force yourself into a perfect exercise routine can be daunting, frustrating, and make you feel like you want to quit. I enjoy working with  my clients to find a way to incorporate exercise into their lives regularly without it needing to be perfect and without it having it completely take over their lives. We are aiming for practical, enjoyable, sustainable exercise. We are not aiming for extreme and all consuming.

Exceptions

I want to be clear that I believe there are some limited times when perfection can be attained and can be a positive thing. For example, the Whole 30 program. Following the program requires a very strict way of eating for thirty days, so you can empty your body of all the junk in it, give your hormones a chance to balance out, and kick some strong cravings to the curb. In this case, relaxing on the rules is not beneficial and is actually quite detrimental to your progress and outcome. However, this program is limited to thirty days. It is not promoted as a way to eat forever without any room for special events or special moments in our lives where food is often the common thread bringing us together with our loved ones.

In a similar way, some people find that following a strict and “perfect” program for a certain amount of time (often thirty days) is very beneficial to them. Often this can help someone create a good habit and then they are able to eventually make exercise a priority in their life, but not necessarily the top priority, taking over everything else.

If this is the kind of lifestyle you’re looking for, then I’m here for you. Find me on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, or send me an email. I promise to share my positive but imperfect lifestyle with you, and that includes the good, bad and in-between. If you’re looking for individual coaching,  please contact me and I would love to help you find a way to live a life that is full of health and wellness; exercise and good food, but also sleep, stress management, enjoyment and balance. Doesn’t that sound wonderful?

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Kale and Cauliflower Meatballs

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I am constantly trying to get more vegetables into my kids. It is NOT an easy job. Charley has a super sensitive gag and vomit reflex and Xavier isn’t old enough to have a conversation about why he needs vegetables. He also isn’t old enough to understand bribes either…and I’m only half kidding. I get tired of the constant battles over vegetables and fruit and so sometimes I resort to hiding vegetables in food that I know they will eat with minimal complaints. It’s not solving any problems BUT it’s better than nothing and we are doing the best we can. I threw these together with some veggies I had in the fridge and they gobbled them down. Husband gave the thumps up sign as well so I thought I’d better share the recipe!

Ingredients:

-2 lbs grass fed ground beef

-3/4 cup of finely chopped kale

-3/4 cup of grated cauliflower (use a cheese grater or food processor to grate until it is the size of grains of rice)

-2-3 cloves of garlic

-1 egg (This can be skipped if you are allergic to eggs but it does help hold the mixture together.)

-1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

-1.5 tsp dried basil

-1.5 tsp dried oregano

-1.5 tsp dried parsley

-1 tsp dried rosemary

-1 tsp dried thyme

-1 tsp sea salt

-1/4 tsp black pepper

Note: I often buy this Freeze Dried Italian Herb Blend from my local grocery store when I’m in a rush and use it instead of combining all of the above herbs together. The flavour is fantastic! I also like to use the Freeze Dried Poultry Herb Blend for roasting whole chickens.

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2) Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly. It is best to do this with your hands to get the ground beef and vegetables mixed really well and sticky together.

3) Roll into meatballs about 1 inch in diameter and place on a baking sheet lined with tinfoil or parchment paper. You will need to really squeeze these meatballs with your hands to make sure the vegetables and meat stick together. Depending on your beef, you may need to add another egg to help with the sticking.

4) Bake for 20-25 minutes and then remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.

My children ate theirs alongside some almonds, carrots, and raw cheese. My husband and I enjoyed ours with some steamed broccoli, roasted mushrooms and roasted yams. I wish I had doubled the recipe to have enough to freeze for emergency snacks, but they were too yummy and we gobbled the leftovers up for breakfast this morning.

Enjoy!

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Health Coaching – Let Me Help You!

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About 6 months ago I was in a grocery store with my kids when a woman approached me with a sad, desperate look in her eyes. “Excuse me, but you look like you work out, and I can see you have kids. How do you do it? I just can’t seem to make it work.” (I was decked out in Lululemon running clothes and dripping in sweat from running to the store from my house, pushing the kids in the stroller).

I completely panicked. I totally blew it. A million things ran through my head but nothing came out. I don’t even remember what I said, but I think I just fumbled around a bit and then referred her to my Facebook page. She looked a bit dejected and left the store with her young daughter. As soon as she walked away, a million things that I could have said ran through my mind.

I work out because I’m a better mama when I do. I’m kinder and have more patience when I’ve taken some time for myself.

I often work out WITH my kids. Some days, that’s the only way to fit it in. 

I’ve surrounded myself with people that support me. My husband is my champion and always supports my strive for health and balance. He helps me carve out time.

The path to health and wellness is 80% nutrition and 20% exercise. Let’s start with food.

You can do this. There are ways. I believe you can.

Here’s my card. I would love to help you.

For the next few days I mulled over the conversation and kicked myself for not offering her a big warm hug. I’ve been there. I remember how I felt like I was drowning after my daughter was born. I could barely keep my eyes open, never mind think about food and exercise. I needed a hug and some guidance.

If you’re feeling like this, then I’m here to help you.

I offer a one on one program where you and I discuss your wellness goals and work towards them. I will coach you through the ups and downs of implementing health and wellness into your life in a permanent way. I will become your confidant, your cheerleader, your workout buddy, your accountability partner or whatever you need to help you reach your goals. We will be partners in the journey.

I offer different packages of different lengths. You can choose to meet twice a month for 4 months (intro), 6 months (standard, and recommended amount of time to implement a life change), or 12 months (for those who would like extra encouragement and accountability). Each coaching session will be 45-60 minutes. Free gifts are included, and extra opportunities (things like trips to the health food store, pantry/fridge content makeovers) are available for those who are interested. Full access to my cookbook library is also included.

A few words about what I will NOT do:

-I will not prescribe drugs or medication of any kind. I’m not a doctor and I will refer you to one if necessary.

-I will not be your personal trainer. I can give you the tools to exercise and suggest all kinds of fun ways to incorporate it into your life, but I will not be conducting a personal training session. I’m not certified (yet!) for that and will not cross any lines. I will be happy to refer you to some amazing personal trainers that I know if that is what you are looking for.

-I will never ever try to sell you any products. No shakes, no pills, no fad diets, no wraps. I don’t believe in those things and will never push them on you. I believe in real food and real exercise, and we’ll stick with that.

-I will not put all my clients on Whole30. If you follow my blog, you know I’m passionate about it and you know I live a Whole9 lifestyle. However, I’m fully aware that not everyone is interested in that. We will work with YOUR needs, goals and wants. It’s about you, not about me.

That’s the gist of it! If any of this sounds appealing to you, contact me and we can start with a FREE health history evaluation. We’ll meet for coffee, discuss your concerns and hopes, and figure out if this program is right for you.

You can contact me by email at joanna@wellnesswithjoanna.com for more information, pricing, and a health history evaluation. Introductory pricing is in effect until September 2015.

I look forward to hearing from you!

(Photo credit to the wonderful Vanessa Voth Photography. Hair and makeup by the exceptional Becky Austin of Make It Up.)

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On Why We Don’t Use the F Word – And Other Family Rules

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No, I’m not talking about THAT F-word.

In our home, we do not say the word fat. Ever. Sound extreme to you? Maybe. But if you’ve ever spent time in that dark place of self-loathing because you can’t seem to starve away every single tiny piece of fat from your body, then you will understand my intense feelings surrounding that word. (Someday I will write in more detail about that dark place, but not yet.)

That’s my sweet daughter Charley in that photo on her first day of preschool. She’s three and a half and as happy as can be. It kills me to know that because I have suffered from an eating disorder, and even though I consider myself healed, she is at a higher risk of developing one in her lifetime. I’ve read the research, and it’s enough to make some very firm rules for our household, to protect her from becoming another statistic. (Even still, if I had never had an eating disorder, the statistics of women developing eating disorders these days are still frightening.)

You may see it as helicopter parenting or keeping my child in a bubble. But have you experienced the hell of an eating disorder? Or the hell of an addiction? The hell of mental illness? If you have, you will understand my desire to build that bubble around her as long as possible. Yes, she will encounter the outside world eventually, but not until our family beliefs and words are imprinted so deeply in her mind and heart that when she comes across the confusing ideas of fat that our society presents, she will be so strong in her beliefs that they will not be shattered by Victoria’s Secret commercials, false advertising, rude comments from men, outrageous diet claims in magazines, etc.

In our home:

We do not use the word fat as an adjective (or at all). Our society focuses on size so much. Why do we always comment on the shape of a person first? Instead of describing someone as fat, large, skinny, chubby, thin or huge, we use other characteristics. “Your Auntie Julia has curly hair, blue eyes, and wears glasses sometimes.” This is a tip that I learned a few years ago in therapy and have made a rule in my life since then, even when I’m not around my kids. The obsession with size in our society needs to end, and this is one tiny place to start.

There are no good foods or bad foods. Food is food. In our home I do my best to not label foods as bad or good, positive or negative, junk or treats. This is especially difficult for me as a Health Coach because I find the nutritional value and science behind food so fascinating. We do discuss that some foods can make us feel sick, slow, or tired and that other foods can give us energy and make us feel good.

Food does not make you bigger or smaller, fatter or skinnier. Yes, if you eat pizza all day, every day, you will get fat. And if all you eat is lettuce all day, every day, you will wither away into nothing. But neither of those are options in Charley’s life right now so she doesn’t need to know that. I never want her to look at ice cream and think it will make her fat.

That scene in Little Miss Sunshine makes me so angry. I want to punch my screen. I remember watching that before I had my own kids and vowing to never let that happen in my family.

We walk everywhere, as often as possible. The walking thing started out not by my choice. Charley was an extremely spirited toddler and absolutely refused to ever sit in the stroller. She was walking confidently soon after her first birthday and at that point we just packed the stroller away into storage and she walked every where from then on. It was annoying at first, but now at age 3.5, she can walk for hours without whining. She loves hiking and running and knows no difference. I absolutely love it. We go for long walks almost every day. We make it a priority so that it is part of her lifestyle now, and not something we have to worry about incorporating later on.

She sees my love for exercise. This one can be tricky and leads right into the next one.

I do not exercise to get smaller or skinnier. My kids see me exercise. I take them for runs, I lift weights while Xavier naps, and they watch myself and other moms workout at our Mommy Workout Group that my friend leads in a park. They know that once a week I wake up early to meet a good friend for a morning workout, and they know that once a week Daddy puts them to bed because I’m at a running clinic. The thing is, my exercise has nothing to do with shrinking. I’m not “working off that ice cream”, “shrinking my love handles”, or trying to achieve the impossible “thigh gap”. My children will NEVER hear those words from me. Instead, I tell them that I’m building muscles so that I can be strong to pick them up, that I’m getting fast so I can run with them and play with them, and so my body has more energy. And those things are true. I’m not exercising to get smaller or reach some goal. I’m exercising so I can keep up with my kids, lift heavy things when I need to, and open my own darn pickle jar.

I do not stare at myself in the mirror. It’s amazing how much little children observe and absorb. I don’t do it anyway (anymore), but I especially do not stand in front of a mirror and critique myself in front of my children. I need a mirror to do my hair and makeup, but I am careful with my facial expressions. No deep sighs of dissatisfaction, no grimaces or squeezing and pinching any extra skin. I don’t have a scale, but if I did, I would not weigh myself in front of my children. So many women I know weigh themselves every single morning. What kind of habit is that to instil in our children?

I am IN our photos. I am in those photos with my kids.  I will not stay out of a photo because I don’t think I look my best or because my outfit isn’t especially flattering that day. And I will NEVER say out loud that I don’t like the way I look in a photo. I avoid negative self talk internally and externally as much as humanly possible. With this same mindset, when we are at the beach or at the pool, I will be there in my swimsuit as confidently as possibly. (It has taken me a long time to get there, but my children are a great motivator.) I will be in the water, swimming and playing with my kids, and not caring if my make up runs or my hair gets drenched and stringy. I still don’t love being in a bathing suit in public, but I’m going to fake it until I make it and make sure my children don’t pick up on that.

I compliment Charley on more than just her beauty. Charley is beautiful, and she hears it all the time from family, friends and strangers. And I’m totally okay with that. I tell her she’s beautiful all the time. It won’t take long before our society tries to make her feel ugly, so I’ll tell her as many times as I can until then that she was created perfectly. I don’t think you can tell your children they are beautiful too often, as long as your compliments of their other strengths outweigh the compliments of their appearance. For every time I tell her she’s beautiful, I make sure to magnify two or three other strengths of hers. For example, things like “I love that you are so kind to your brother”, “You are so good at sharing”, “You are so helpful”. I learned this from a very wise friend of mine who is parenting a few years ahead of me and aim to use this tool with all people I come in contact with, not just my own children.

Food is GOOD. So many people have negative issues surrounding any and all food. In my darkest times, I would be kept awake all night from the shame of eating a plain chicken breast. I would imagine all the fat accumulating on my body as I lied in bed and how much bigger I would be in the morning. I know better now. Now I know that food equals life. Food is fuel for my body. Food is energy and strength, and strength is beautiful.

This all my sound crazy to you. I might sound paranoid and maybe I am a little. These rules may evolve as my children mature and can understand nutrition and science more.

But for now, instilling these values in Charley’s mind and heart is one of my biggest passions.


To read a bit about my story and why I’m so passionate about this, click here.