Try a Downward Facing Dog!

IMG_20120625_200048Yoga. Meditation. Controlled breathing. What a bunch of hippy dippy nonsen… oh wait, I don’t think that way anymore.

When I was in high school, my dad and I had this fun bonding ritual – I would watch stuff on TV, and he would pretend to be annoyed by it. I mean, he was annoyed by it, but I think he secretly enjoyed this time we spent together. He’d make funny or sarcastic comments, I would laugh, and a good time was had by all. Sometimes, we’d watch something that we both thought was a little goofy, and laugh at it together.

One of the things that we came across in those early mornings before school and work was a public access television program featuring an older woman in a leotard doing yoga.

Cue new age-y music, and this spectacle left itself wide open to our ridicule. At the time I knew nothing about mind-body connection, holistic health, alternatives to traditional medicine – or stress.

I’m not talking ‘who am I going to sit with at lunch?’ stress, I’m talking buying a house, getting married, going to work every day, having kids, being an adult kind of stress. Illness, death, road rage. You get the idea.

Fast forward several years to three key life experiences that have changed how I feel about these ‘wacky’ approaches to a healthier, happier life, that made me more open to trying things outside of my comfort zone …

  1. The Neti Pot. I’ve suffered – and I do think that is an accurate term – from sinus pain and pressure for as long as I can remember. A bad sinus headache can render me useless for an entire day. I used to treat these with sinus medications. They totally worked to eliminate the pain, but didn’t fix anything, and usually made my heart race. Then, one glorious day my wonderful fiancé (maybe he was my husband by this point, I can’t remember), encouraged (ok, peer pressured) me into trying this genie lamp looking thing called the neti-pot. Maybe you’ve heard of it? It comes from Eastern medicine, and it is a miracle. Although I was a bit squeamish about pouring salt water through my nasal cavity, which is basically the gist of how it works, I am so glad that in a moment of pure desperation, I gave it a whirl. Sure it was awkward, and felt a little funny, but man the results were nothing short of miraculous. The warm salt water literally washed out my sinuses, and helped with the inflammation that often led to debilitating headaches. I felt like a new woman, and started preaching the benefits of this very old, very naturalistic approach to my problem. The point – sometimes the most basic, ageless, from-the-earth remedies really are the best medicine. Don’t turn your nose up at them. Trust your body and the earth to have the innate ability to fix your *minor* complaints.
  2. Meditation Class. If I had told high school Kristin (or my dad) that I was going to take a meditation class in graduate school, she would have laughed her butt off. How ridiculous. I would never do such a thing. Until I did. As simple and as silly as it seems, the neti pot situation really opened up my eyes to the ability of the body to control and fix itself. I keep going back to this class as a turning point in my approach to life. You CAN control how you experience anything. Everything. Literally. Life is a series of sensations and perceptions, and thought and society place ‘good’ and ‘bad’ labels onto those sensations and perceptions. Taking the time to be in tune with yourself and acknowledge how you are reacting to external stimuli – then practicing how you want to react to it, can significantly impact your quality of life. Sure- bad, frustrating, hurtful things are going to happen – and you should feel those emotions, but you have absolute control over how long you stay with any particular perception. I could go on, but this post is already longer than I intended!!
  3. Un-medicated Childbirth. Oh man. High school Kristin would have flipped over this one. I always imagined that if I were going to have kids, I’d have scheduled C-sections. The thought of pushing a P-E-R-S-O-N out of MY body frightened the crap out of me. It still does. But after a little bit of life experience, and a little bit of education, and the realization that the human body has so much power and the mind so much control, I changed my view on the whole giving birth thing. I’ve even done a little bit of yoga to prepare for birthing my babies (sorry eccentric leotard lady). As annoying as it sounds when you are faced with getting said baby out of your body – your body really does know what to do. Sure, it is going to hurt like a mother (haha, see what I did there?), but you can absolutely learn to acknowledge the pain for what it is and work through it. If you want. Otherwise, I hear there are some amazing drugs to get you through.

So what was the point of this long post about my personal experience with branching out into more natural, holistic, and mindful approaches to life – well, the point is that there was a time in my life that I would never consider such things. But, I’m glad I opened myself up to new and different experiences, otherwise I’d still suffer with my sinuses, still stew over minor infractions throughout my day, and never would have had the birth experiences that I did.

Try something new. You won’t regret it. That’s the point.

For the record though, if I find myself watching TV with my dad, and we stumble across a lady in a leotard in downward facing dog, I’ll probably still laugh.

Head over and read about how my friend Liz Small over at Small Steps conquers new things!

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Boost a Mood

Women are notoriously hard on each other, and themselves. Life, in general, is hard. Being an adult is even worse. Being a mom can feel like the most thankless job on earth (I mean, you know, sometimes).

My point – everyone gets down once in a while, and for good reason.

If you’ve got a kiddo with medical issues or special needs, it’s even easier to get down on life and get down on yourself.

Here are some of my suggestions, for any mom (or person really) who needs a boost. But first, have a laugh at my expense:

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If that doesn’t boost your mood, try these tips instead!

  1. Get offline. I’ve found that the constant need to be connected, to know what everyone is up to, to know what everyone is thinking, to be always available to others – is stressful. Not only does constantly checking social media drain precious moments of your life, it can incite – often unjustified, feelings of inadequacy and jealousy. Remember – people usually post their highlight reel, not their reality. Also, it is so easy to get annoyed, frustrated, or angered at something on social media, and then feel the need to engage that negativity. It’s better to step away, and best to PLAN a break in your day from the screen.
  2. Get outside. Fresh air is always a great place to start for a boost in your mood or a reset for your day. Whatever the weather is looking like, taking in a breath of fresh outdoor air can do wonders for your mental clarity. Try it out.
  3. Get some perspective. Going back to #1, if you’re feeling down about your life choices (mommy wars, anyone?), your kids health, or your house keeping abilities (I try not to think about this one), take a step back and think about why you are being so hard on yourself. It’s usually because you feel like someone else is doing it better or has it better – this isn’t necessarily true. Everyone’s got problems. I’m okay with, and recommend, a good pity party. But, when you are ready to move on – have a reality check and think to yourself … will this be important tomorrow? Next week? In a year? Am I just having a bad day? What can I do to change how I feel? Then, believe it, and move on.
  4. Listen to some great music. Music has a wonderful ability to lift your mood or help you release those negative feelings and emotions. Try it out, experiment. Find a song that makes you feel energized and happy. Find a few, and make a playlist.
  5. If all else fails -Treat yourself or plan something fun! A little self-indulgence can do wonders for your mood. I always get a mental lift when plotting out a glorious vacation. Science (somewhere) says that just the act of planning a fun event or trip can increase feelings of well-being, even if that event or trip never happens.DSCN0243

For more ways to boost a mood (see what I did there?), check out my friend  Liz  over at Small Steps Big Benefits to see what awesome tips she has for you!

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Energy. Hm, what is that?

I’m part of this awesome group of women, the bizzy mamas, who are a constant support to one another as we each find our way as moms, wives, and business owners. Trying to manage it all, do it all, be it all. Struggling with feelings of guilt, as it is impossible to do it all without feeling like some task or some person or some goal is constantly getting less of you than necessary. That sh*t is exhausting. Not to mention actually parenting said children, being a good wife, being a rockstar business person. And if you’ve got a kiddo, or any family member, who needs extra time and attention and mental space due to a complicated medical history – I can’t even go there. So much brain space… so much energy.

Energy. Wait, what is that? Some of the awesome ladies involved in bizzy mamas have started this blog circle, encouraging our readers to find more inspiring women to lift them up. This week’s topic was ‘Tips to feel more energized’. My first thought was – darn, I’ve got nothing. I don’t have much energy myself these days, and I’m not sure if or when I will ever get it back. I’ve always been one to enjoy a good night’s sleep – that’s surely not to be happening for the next 15-20 years or so with two kids, and another on the way. And I do think proper sleep is a main factor in energy levels. I’m screwed.

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But, as with most things in life, it’s much easier to direct other people on self-improvement then to implement said tips personally. Here is what I came up with, and what I actually do when I am being serious about improving my levels of energy.

  1. Get enough sleep. Most people don’t. When there are only so many hours in the day, it’s hard to resist staying up to actually talk to your husband (haha, I alllways fall asleep on the couch when I try to do this), get some laundry done, watch an adult show, or do something that you want to do that you didn’t get to during the day. Sleep is always the more restorative option. Make the effort to go to bed when you are tired, before you are falling asleep on the couch.
  2. Drink enough water. This is simple enough, but also hard to do. I love a nice, cold glass of water – but coffee, soda, and iced tea often seem so much more appealing. I’ve found though, that if I’m in a daze, drinking a glass of water really does help refresh my mind and give me a little reboot.
  3. Get outside. I hate the cold, and it’s starting to get cold out. I don’t want to go outside when it is cold, but again – your body needs fresh air and sunshine to rejuvenate itself. It’s basic, true, and a quick and easy energy booster.
  4. Speaking of sunshine – get it! Even if you can’t bring yourself to get outside, if the sun is shining, find a spot in your home or office or wherever you are, where the sunlight is coming in. Stand there for a few minutes and reap the natural benefits of the sun. Don’t freak out about skin cancer (and don’t freak out that I wrote that – your body needs some levels of Vitamin D from the sun, and it is ok to get a few minutes of natural light without sunblock on ) ** Personal opinion that I believe is actually a fact, but I’m not a doctor so don’t quote me.
  5. Look at your day and schedule some time that is not doing something for someone else, to complete a task, or to get something accomplished. Make time that gives you and your brain and your body some time to re-energize. No one does this enough, because we are made to feel guilty for not constantly doing something – that’s a bunch of … hogwash . It’s perfectly acceptable, healthy, and in my opinion necessary, to take some time ‘off’. Do it. 

So now that I’ve given you all the answers to be more energized, you are all set. And I am going to go and take a nap!

But before you do the same, head over to the page of Melissa Raffel of Busy Bee Personal Assistants and check out what she has to say about the elusive thing they call ‘energy’.

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So, I read a diet book, and you should too …

Small Steps to Slim

Small Steps to Slim by Ashvini Mashru, MA, RD, LDN is not a book I would normally be drawn too.

I am already slim, slim to the point of people often wondering (sometimes out loud), if I have some sort of eating disorder. Mull that over for a minute. An eating disorder, which google defines as – “any of a range of psychological disorders characterized by abnormal or disturbed eating habits (such as anorexia nervosa).” Probably the opposite experience of someone telling you your child with a true feeding issue is ‘just a picky eater’. People can be jerks.

Said ‘people’ have actually asked me if, due solely to my thinness, I have an eating disorder. This made me hesitant to acknowledge that I read a book about becoming slim. What were people going to think now???

I did read it, and I loved it. It is not a diet book, or particularly about becoming slim, although that is the pretense – it’s a wonderful guidebook toward reaching your goals. Its principles are applicable to many life situations.

Perhaps I should use it as a way to develop a plan for managing rude people. But, I digress.

Ashvini’s website explains that she “… is an award winning Registered Dietitian and a professional Health and Wellness Coach who has over 12 years of experience in helping individuals achieve healthy lifestyles.” I’m happy to call Ashvini a friend and fellow business owner. She has been a pleasure to know and work with, and I am thrilled to incorporate the lessons of her book into this blog post and my work with clients.

You’ll have to read the book for a full explanation of these steps in regards to lifestyle management for weight loss, but here are some basic examples of how I would apply Ashvini’s lessons to managing a child’s feeding issues, and making any goal attainable.

Step 1 Commit to the Journey

  • A goal is nothing without commitment to seeing it through. If you desperately want eating to be different for your child, commit yourself to finding the medical, behavioral, and developmental answers and mealtime management techniques needed to make that happen.

Step 2 Pinpoint a Final Destination

  • Think about what makes mealtimes challenging for your child RIGHT NOW. Then, consider what you want mealtimes look like with/for your child when you’ve achieved your goal. Commit that goal to memory, and commit yourself to getting there.

Step 3 Choose one Small Navigational Change

  • What’s that they say about Rome not being conquered in a day? Long standing feeding issues will not improve or change overnight. Before reaching that ideal experience of eating, many smaller goals must be identified and achieved. For example – if your child will not sit at the table for mealtimes, getting them to eat will be a challenge. If your end goal is to have your child eating a few new foods, your first goal might be getting them to come cooperatively to the table.

Step 4 Break up the Driving

  • Break up each goal into smaller goals. For instance, if your first goal is to get your child to stay at the table during mealtimes, consider using a seatbelt or scarf to remind them to stay in their seat, or for an older child, consider an incentive chart for sitting at the table x number of times during a week.

Step 5 Plan your Route

  • Take the time to think about your plan of attack. You could try a bunch of different tactics to see what works and you might have to, but it is helpful to have an idea of what you are going to do and how you are going to do it.

Step 6 Expect Bumps

  • Your child is not on board for your plan. Just know it, accept it, and plan for it! Neither is grandma, the waiter at the restaurant, or the lunch lady at school. You will encounter obstacles while attempting to achieve your goals for your child’s eating behavior. Anticipate them, plan for them, and be ready to meet them head on.

Step 7 Recruit a Pit Crew

  • Feeding challenges are stressful, anxiety producing, and hard for ‘outsiders’ to understand. However, you need support to be successful when attempting to change how your child experiences mealtimes. Identify people in your network – family, friends, medical professionals – who will support you in your goals for your child, listen to you, and help you stay motivated.

Step 8 Stay on Course

  • Don’t get discouraged by setbacks, keep your eye on the prize, and weigh the cost/benefits of what you are doing. Remember, your ultimate goal is to get to happier and more satisfying mealtimes for your child and you – that’s worth the hard work!

Step 9 Refuel

  • Take a step back and look at how far you’ve come. Identify actions that are helping you to achieve your goals, and things that may not be working. Adjust your behavior as necessary, and re-evaluate your end goal.

Step 10 Focus on How Far You’ve Gone

  • Give yourself, and your supporters, and most importantly, your child a pat on the back for doing such hard work!

For another great perspective on goal attainment, head on over to my fellow bizzy mama Karen Cooley‘s photography page, and check out what she has to say!

For help creating your own action plan for managing mealtimes with a child who has feeding issues, contact me today at Kquinn@toddlersandtomatoes.com

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Modern Day Super Woman

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Time. There never seems to be enough time, yet there is an endless amount of time. Confusing, right? Like everything else in life – it is what you make it. Time can be a source of stress, and it definitely is for me on most days. However, a little planning and realistic expectations go a long way.

So what does this have to do with feeding your kids? Well, like anything else … that planning and those realistic expectations (not to be repetitive) can make or break your sanity.

The thing about time – and feeding your kids – is that everyone else seems to be managing it better. But here is the trick – they are not. Some people feel like they have it down, no worries, life is good. Smooth sailing here, never a stress inducing moment. But, those are usually the people who are so strung out on planning and goal setting and structure and routine, and putting on a good face … that while they have succeeded in looking like an image of perfectly balanced time and zero stress, they are often huddled in a corner somewhere worried about how to continue the façade.

I’m not saying that some people don’t have an effective way to manage time, stress, or particulars – like feeding a child. I’m just saying; don’t believe every Facebook status update you read. You either see the absolute worst part of a person’s day or the absolute best reflection of how they want people to see them. You don’t see the in between times – where most of our daily stress hangs out.

Here are some tips that help me manage the stress of balancing it all – family, clients, school drop off, school lunches, blog writing, networking, laundry, dishes – I’m getting tired thinking of it!

  • Don’t stress. Ha. But seriously. Come up with a plan of action, and stick to it.
  • Know what you have to do, and make time to do it. Lists work great for me, and seeing everything laid out on a calendar. Also, setting aside time during the day for specific tasks – like making school lunch after dinner – is helpful.
  • Know what you want to do, and make time to do it. Don’t forget to schedule time to take a breather. You need to refresh yourself to be a fully present mom, employee, friend, sister, etc. It’s not a luxury. It’s a necessity. In fact, check out my amazing friend Elizabeth Small, over at Small Steps Big Benefits, for her tips on time management and focusing on you!

I always like to bring it back to feeding, because that’s why this blog and my services exist.

Here are three more tips, specifically related to managing the stress of mealtimes:

  • Keep a routine. Even if it is ‘loose’. Children like to know what is coming, and some semblance of a routine goes a long way to managing mealtime chaos.
  • Make sure your expectations are reasonable. Kids don’t eat a lot. Are you doling out adult sized portions, and expecting your child to clean their plate? Slow your roll sistah! Take a step back and reevaluate.
  • In regards to time – meals should be short and sweet for young kids. No more than 30 minutes, and that is pushing it!

How do you manage time, stress, and being the modern day super woman??

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