Since I can remember I have always enjoyed trying out new health regimes, either that I have learned through my friends or from my endless internet searches . Most of the regimes not sticking with me for long, but a small handful of healthy habits have stuck with me throughout the years.
Now I know how difficult it is to make big changes in your life towards creating a healthier existence, especially when you are a busy mother. But sometimes you just need to start by creating small changes in your habits and build from there. Even minor changes can make a big difference in how you look and feel in your daily life.
Here are my top daily rituals that I believe can make major changes in your health:
Exercise: this goes without saying. Movement is key to optimal health. I know not everyone enjoys working out, or has time to fit exercise into their daily schedule. But working out doesn’t have to be spent in the gym for hours each day. It can be as simple as taking the stairs, walking around the block during lunch, or going on a hike with your friends. Getting the body moving is all that is important. I don’t do a full workout every day-not by any means. But on my off days, I will turn on Youtube video and do a “5 minute abs” workout, or a 10 minute HIIT routine. Search Youtube for what you like; yoga, dance, stretching…there is a video for everything. No computer, no problem, do 50 jumping jacks, and call it a day. Its really so simple.
Warm Lemon Water: This is one of my favorite rituals, and one that I’ve been doing for years. There are so many amazing benefits of this simple routine that your body will be thanking you for this new habit. It improves your digestion, rids your body of toxins, and boosts your immune system. And if those were not enough reasons-it also clears your skin and helps you lose weight. Amazing! Every morning when you wake, simply warm a small glass of water with half a squeezed lemon. Enjoy.
Oil Pulling: Now this is a habit that is tougher than most for me to keep up, but one I would love to do everyday. As of now, I only find time to do so about three times a week. But even at that, I can feel the benefits its had on my dental health. If you haven’t tried it before, you must wonder what the heck I’m talking about. Oil pulling is an old Ayurvedic practice that uses pure oil as a sort of mouthwash. You take a tablespoon of a pure, organic oil (coconut, olive or sesame oil) and swish around in your mouth for 20 minutes. I have found that not being able to communicate with my toddler for 20 whole minutes is nearly impossible, so I only do 10 minutes each time. But it seems to do the trick for me. The benefits include: removing bacteria in your mouth-reducing cavities and bad breath, decreaseing inflammation, detoxing the body and whitening teeth. Just remember, don’t swallow it, and don’t spit it down the sink (spit it in the trash). If you want more information, you can read here.
Dry Brushing: Ok, I know I’m asking you to do yet another thing in your already busy morning, but this takes 5 minutes max (3 if you move quickly like I do). Grab a natural body brush, hop in the shower, and before you turn on the water, stand in the tub and begin brushing your skin. Start at your feet and work in circular strokes up towards your heart. Next do your midsection, then your arms, then your back. Once you reach your back, you will do long strokes down your back. Then turn on the water, and shower as usual. As you know, your skin is the largest organ in your body, and much of your body’s elimination happens through your skin. So dry brushing is a must to keep your lymphatic system working properly and unclogging those pores. It also makes your skin soft as a baby’s bum, and reduces cellulite-yay for that!
Shot of Apple Cider Vinegar: Sounds disgusting, but its really not that bad. To reap the benefits, you really only need a tablespoon a day (you can mix with juice or water if preferred). The benefits include: boosting your immunity, increasing your energy levels, improving digestion and helping with weight loss. Just remember, only use raw, unpasteurized vinegar.
Meditation: This habit is a new one to me, and one I’m not either good at or diligent about. But yet, I still think is very important and worth mentioning. I once heard someone say how most healthy people spend countless hours improving their physical health, but spend no time improving their mental health. This statement stuck with me, and was the catalyst to giving meditation a try. With that said, I am no expert, and have a lot to learn still. But as a beginner, I have found the best way to incorporate a little quiet time in my life is by doing it in the morning before beginning my day. Once I hear Berlin start to stir, I turn on a meditation app and spend five minutes focusing on being present. My app of choice is Omvana, its simple and has guidance mediation for beginners.
Hope these habits have been helpful for you. Please let me know if you start using any, would love to hear how you feel after doing so.
Truth be told, I never really saw myself as a stay-at-home mother. Prior to having Berlin I was insanely career focused, almost to a fault, and admittedly had lofty career goals.
Even while pregnant with Berlin, I could never see myself walking away from my career. I imagined myself jumping right back into the madness, straight off maternity leave: traveling the world, working crazy hours, and basically being the total career centered person I was prior to giving birth.
But as fate would have it, I was laid off from my job while on maternity leave, and was literally handed the amazing opportunity of staying home with my daughter. At first I was deeply petrified about the idea of being a stay-at-home parent. After all, my whole adult life, all I had ever known was the corporate grind. But thankfully, I’m blessed with a terribly supportive husband who convinced me that staying home and raising our daughter was of the utmost importance.
Now as Berlin is getting older, and will be starting preschool in the Fall, I have toyed with the idea of going back to work. I’ve interviewed a few places and kept my options open, but ultimately, my heart isn’t in it any longer.
Since I can remember, I’ve always been passionate about health and fitness, and knew that if I ever took the plunge and switched careers, it would be to follow this passion. At this stage in my life, being happy and healthy, and helping others achieve the same, is most important to me.
So without further ado, please allow me to introduce: Mindful Mama.
I’m currently accepting new clients. So for all you San Francisco mamas who want to get back in shape; in a supportive, kid-friendly environment; please feel free to contact me.
If you’re not a mama, no problem, I love to train all women. So if you want to tone up for that big event, or you just need help losing those last five pounds, I’m here for you as well.
It seems everyone around me has been sick lately; various flu viruses, runny noses, and constant coughing. Both Berlin and Ryan fell victim to the hacking cough and were battling with it for weeks. Ryan’s immunity was down, no doubt, to his continuous stress at work, and Berlin…well, seeing as nap time is like World War III around here, I blame lack of sleep for her compromised immune system. Luckily for me, I remained the healthy one in the family. But with both of them being ill, I knew I had to step up my game and figure out a way to quickly boost their immunity.
I’m a firm believer in the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle to ward off illness and disease, and I try to avoid medications and antibiotics at all cost, especially for Berlin. So when illness strikes, I look to the kitchen first for means of healing our family.
Generally my go to when fighting off sickness, is by making large amounts of fresh, homemade juices. I pack them with green vegetables; kale, spinach and parsley, then add lots of ginger and lemon. But a few months ago, Ryan forwarded me a link with an amazing recipe for a homemade antibiotic that I was immediately sold on, and have been drinking on a daily basis since.
This “master cleansing tonic” (as they call it) is powerful stuff. It helps fight off illness; both viral and bacterial, and helps strengthen the immune system. Its chalked full of natural, healthful ingredients that are known to boost immunity: apple cider vinegar, garlic, ginger and turmeric. Its simple to make, and takes very little to provide you with crucial, infection fighting benefits. If you need any further motivation, apple cider vinegar is known to help reduce fat, so if you’re trying to lose weight, this will only further benefit your health.
Master Cleansing Tonic:
24 ounces Raw Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar
1/4 cup chopped garlic
1/4 cup chopped onion
2 fresh peppers (I used one Serrano and one Thai Chili)
1/4 grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoons horseradish
1/4 cup grated fresh turmeric
Place all ingredients in a large mason jar (or separate into two smaller ones) and fill the jars with apple cider vinegar. Shake well to mix the ingredients. Then place in a cool place and allow to ferment for two weeks (shaking frequently). Once the two weeks are up, strain the liquid and place back in mason jar. You can then store in a cool place again (no need to refrigerate) and enjoy on a daily basis.
I suggest beginning with a tablespoon or less until you get used to the taste, then increase to about a shot size every morning-more if you are feeling under the weather. I give Berlin a teaspoon with some honey and she takes it down just fine.
Whip some up right away, you don’t want to wait until you are coming down with something, since it takes two weeks to brew.
Here’s to being healthy!
Admittedly, prior to having Berlin, I paid little, to no attention to the amount of sugar in my food. I would look at the fat or protein content rather than check out the possibly high amount of sugar lurking in my food. Honestly, I figured, since I didn’t eat candy bars or drink soda, my daily sugar intake must be at a healthy level. But once I began the journey of feeding solids to Berlin, I realized I was sorely mistaken and the amount of sugar I was ingesting as a relatively healthy individual was shocking.
It wasn’t until I began reading nutrition labels more closely and understanding the amount of sugar in my food, that I discovered, by noon on any given day, I was easily downing nearly 35 grams (or 9 teaspoons) of sugar (and that only included eating one Clif Bar and drinking a homemade fruit smoothie). I sadly assumed that companies, like Clif Bar, that touted healthy living, with a belief in organic and sustainable living, were making products that were nutritious and low on simple sugars. But reality is, these bars are no healthier than a chocolate bar. In fact, the Carrot Cake bar I tricked myself into thinking was healthy, was giving me a whopping 25 grams of sugar in one serving. That is more than a Hershey’s chocolate bar by a surprising 6 grams. Shocking, right?!
Once I made this realization, I really started investigating the amount of sugar in the everyday food items I was buying for Berlin. I also began researching the scary truth about sugar’s effect on toddlers, and the actual amount of sugar that is healthy for a toddler to be ingesting per a daily basis. What I discovered was that although I am one of the more strict parents when it comes to Berlin’s diet, she too, was eating far too much sugar.
So what is a healthy amount of sugar for our toddlers to be ingesting? According to the American Heart Association, preschool age children eating a 1000 calorie diet, should be eating no more than 3 teaspoons, or 12 grams of sugar per day. The shocking reality is that toddlers are far surpassing that number, and according to the AHA are eating on average nearly 12 teaspoons (or 48 grams) of sugar daily. If you stop to think about it, that is really rather gross. Imagine taking 12 teaspoons and pouring it into your toddlers food each day, doubt you could do it with a good conscience.
So now that you know what the recommended intake is, lets look at the sugar content per serving in some of the foods toddlers are eating on a daily basis:
Stonyfield’s yoBaby organic yogurt: 13 grams
GoGo Applesauce Squeeze: 12 grams
Trader Joe’s Organic Probiotic Yogurt Smoothie: 23 grams
Happy Tot Organic fruit packets: 15-20 grams
Earth’s Best Instant Oatmeal: 8 grams
Sprout Organic Fruit Snacks: 13 grams
Nature’s Path Organic Koala Crip Cereal: 11 grams
Nature’s Path Organic Chocolate Crisp Bars: 8 grams
Plum Organics Jammy Sammy cereal bar: 11 grams
What is really sad, is that all of the above mentioned foods are organic and supposedly “healthy” brands. If you’re like me, you assume that organic products, made specifically for children, are nutritious options for your toddler. But most of these options supply your toddler with a full day’s amount of recommended sugar in just one serving.
Now lets discuss one of the biggest culprits of “through the roof” sugar levels, that are touted as a healthy option for our children, 100% juice boxes. I would say its safe to say that nearly half of children drink these on a daily basis, and I would assume that most parents think that its providing their children with the healthy nutrients that are needed each day. But in actuality, its like handing them a glass full of sugar with a bunch of unnecessary calories. To better understand this, let’s look at how juice is made. On average, it takes 3-4 medium apples to make one 8 ounce box of apple juice. Each apple has approximately 25 grams of sugar and 5 grams of healthy, much-needed fiber. The issue is, in the process of juicing, the cell walls are broken down and the fiber is eliminated, and fiber is what is needed to slow the metabolization of sugar and make you feel full. Therefore the body metabolizes the juice just the same as a sugar laden soda, wrecking havoc on your liver, and leaving you feeling hungry.
So now that you are throughly frightened, you should understand what to look for when purchasing foods for your little one. Here are the few names that sugar is hidden in:
- High Fructose corn syrup
- Fruit juice concentrate
- Maple Syrup
- Cane sugar
- Rice syrup
- Anything with an “so” ending; dextrose, fructose, glucose
So how do we keep the sugar content down when its lurking everywhere? My best suggestion is to be mindful of food labels, anything with less than 5 grams of sugar is a safe bet. Serve plain, whole fat yogurt instead of fruit flavored (you can always jazz it up with some granola or whole fruit), serve whole foods; fruits, veggies and whole grains. Eliminate all empty calorie food options; juice boxes, high sugar cereals, fruit bars…and offer only water, milk or a homemade smoothie as a beverage option. Lastly, never buy anything with sugar being the number one ingredient listed on the package.
Of course, we can’t be perfect all the time. So just remember moderation is key. If your chid enjoys a high sugar fruit bar that day, watch what they eat the rest of the day. Be completley mindful of your child’s diet, you are in control of their health and are setting up their eating habits for life.
Over a cocktail this past New Year’s Eve, Ryan and I discussed one of our goals of the year; spending more one on one time together as a couple. I feel like this topic comes up often, and seldomly do we do anything about it. In typical fashion, we brought up how we make little time for one another, instead, putting all our focus into either Berlin or work. We exchanged a few thoughts and ideas on how we might resolve it, but per usual, after the discussion was over, we forgot all about it and carried on with our relationship.
Then last week I saw the brilliant post by my friend Ashley that really got my wheels spinning. Rather than making some grandiose resolution, Ashley and her husband decided to do a small resolution per week, making each resolution much more manageable. They wrote each resolution down on a piece of paper, put them in a jar, and will choose a new one each week to tackle. Sound like a fantastic idea?! Well, I believe so, and and Ryan and I are putting the idea to test.
To begin, we separately came up with twenty-five resolutions each (fifty, because we started late in the game). Each resolution is one that we feel would be a fun and unique way to shake up our routine and help us spend more time together. We then combined our ideas (deleting the repetitive ones) and put them in a spreadsheet. We then came up with the super techy way of using a random picker via our spreadsheet to chose a new resolution weekly.
Here’s just a few examples of some of our weekly resolutions:
- Taking a cooking class together
- Going on a dinner cruise in the bay
- Building a puzzle together
- Having a picnic at the top of Twin Peaks
- No work allowed at home
- Turn off all screens in bed
- Write a letter to one another
Thus far we have conquered week one of our resolutions; “enjoy dinner at a new, ‘hot’ restaurant.” We planned for a sitter on a Wednesday night (yes, we went out on a Wednesday!) and enjoyed a lovely, four course meal at one of the newest restaurants in the city (let me tell you, there are many!). It was wonderful to break up our usual routine and get out in the middle of the week. Plus we got to enjoy a full two hours of talking to one another-without the interruption of a spastic two year old.
We are now onto week two and tackling our second resolution; “put down all devices and listen to one another.” I’m looking forward to being more conscious about our screen time. It directly affects how we communicate with one another, so this week will be an interesting test of our ability to break our strong technological habits.
There are so many more on our list that I’m super psyched about, this resolution per week idea has really gotten me excited and creates something fun for us to look forward to.
What are some of your resolutions? Is spending more time with your loved one a priority for you as well?
I generally do a couple intense cleanses each year; one in the summer and one in the new year. They are usually month long cleanses that are meant to reboot my eating habits and get me on a healthy track again. For the most part I maintain a healthy diet, but at times I allow eating meals out to get out of control or I binge a bit too often on my favorite junk food; chips and salsa.
With the start of the new year this year, I thankfully haven’t feel too far off track from my healthy habits, and have only felt the need for a light cleanse to detox my body. I feel, even if one maintains a healthy lifestyle, its still important to do a cleanse every so often to flush the body of toxins created by food and environmental dangers. A cleanse is not only a great way to flush toxins and boost liver’s effectiveness, but its a great way to refresh yourself and build a path for a healthier lifestyle.
The actual cleanse I created is only two days long, and since its a short cleanse I suggest focusing on yourself for the entire weekend. Doing yoga or stretching to get your body moving and stimulating digestion, enjoying a sauna, and getting lots of rest. This is not a time for intense exercise, its a time to restore the body. I also suggest drinking a glass of warm water with squeezed lemon in it every morning and dry brushing your body to stimulate the lymphatic system and help remove toxins.
There are only two recipes involved with this cleanse, the first being a smoothie that you can enjoy throughout the day; breakfast, snacks and dinner. The second is a soup that can be eaten for lunch and dinner, or as you like. They are both simple to make and can be made in large batches so you only have to prep your food once each day.
Winter Green Detox Smoothie
Handful of frozen cranberries
1 knob of ginger
1/2 cup of kale
1/2 cup of spinach or collard greens
1/2 cup of cabbage
Handful of parsley
Juice from 1/2 a lemon
Approx 1 cup of filtered water
Place all ingredients in a Vitamix (or high powered blender) and mix on high until smooth. Add more water as necessary.
This recipe is from my all time favorite cleanse, created by Ali and Tom of Whole Life Nutrition. This is my go to smoothie whenever I feel under the weather, need a pick me up, or when I’m embarking on their amazing Elimination Diet.
Again, if you would like to double or triple the recipe, you can store in the fridge and enjoy throughout the day. However I always feel its best to make a new batch each time and enjoy immediately.
Green Detox Soup
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 knob of ginger
2 cups of chopped broccoli
2 cups of spinach
1 chopped turnip
Handful of parsley
Approx 2 cups of water
Dash of Turmeric
Himalayan salt and pepper to taste
Juice from 1/2 lemon
Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large pot, add garlic, onion and ginger and cook for approx 5 minutes. Add turmeric, salt and pepper, then all other ingredients. Add water to cover vegetables and bring to a high simmer. Lower heat and simmer for another 10 minutes.
Place in Vitamix and blend until smooth. Add more water if necessary and add more seasonings to taste.
Soup can be made in large batches and stored in the fridge for 2 days, can be enjoyed hot or cold.
Remember to only use organic ingredients for both recipes, you don’t want to be ingesting pesticides while your cleansing your body. Once the cleanse is complete do not return to eating processed foods, sugar, alcohol or drinking coffee (if you can abstain) for at least a month-or longer if you can do so. The whole idea is to detox the body and get your liver in tip top shape. So throughout the month, be kind to your liver and enjoy foods that enable it to perform at a high function. These foods include:
Flax & Hemp Seeds
These foods will not only help detox your liver, but will have you feeling energetic and and healthy. As an added bonus, these super foods boost your immune system as well, so they are great for fighting off the common winter flu and cold that usually occur this time of year.
Hope you all find the time to rejuvenate yourselves and make healthy foods and exercise a part of your year. Cheers to a new year!
If you would like a more in-depth cleanse, I posted one last year here and here.