Balance, Self Care

End of a Decade, Beginning of a new Birth Year

It’s New Year’s Eve and also the day I have made 34 trips around the sun. I never really thought of my birthday on New Year’s Eve as very special until I got older. What is most people’s end of a year is my beginning. And it is such a self reflective day. I’m not sure there has been any other year that I have had this much personal growth.


Last year, I started a new tradition of picking a word for the upcoming years. These words act as affirmations and can be a motivation to resolutions. It is something to come back to when you find yourself off track. My word was DHARMA. Dharma is a sanskrit spiritual word for your personal truth or duty, life purpose. I have dedicated this year to that and it has been a year full of digging deep within myself to focus in on the energy I put into the world. I have found the more you give the more you receive.


My year consisted of…

-Quitting my corporate job to be a stay at home working for myself Mom

-Lots of yoga training-RYT200 Yoga Certification

-Pre/Postnatal Yoga Certification

-Pelvic floor Yoga Certification

-Teaching my first yoga classes/workshops

-Went on 2 vacations

– One sans Maddux and the other was Maddux’s First vaca

-I finished breastfeeding after 15 months 🎉 #freedom

-I won 2 life changing experiences on Instagram–One was a 60 min consult with Heaven Sent Sleep- it was definitely heaven sent. For the first 14 months of Maddux’s life he NEVER slept through the night. Like I’m talking multiple wake ups! I couldn’t do it anymore. Since then, he has slept through the night, every night! The other experience I won was an Akashic Record reading from Melita Mollohan. Wow. What an experience. She gave me insight into my life and also reassurance into other parts. The main thing I appreciate is the peace she gave me for the upcoming challenging parts. If you ever get the chance to do so, do it!

-Started writing a book

-During a challenging matter (a later blog post will explain) I actually created one of my proudest creations yet, my Postpartum Wellness Recovery Course. This is when I realized I was put here to help women and moms navigate through life with the best of tools. Balancebuilding was perfected in this moment.

-Sold our home

-Moved to a rental

-Found a home in Buckhannon

-Found a little more “go with the flow attitude”

-Found the difference between myself as a Mom and as an individual.

-Discovered detachment to material things/situations/and whatever does not serve me any longer is the key to really living life.

I look at this list and I am astounded and proud of how much I have done and how far I have come! I also notice that most of this list can be mapped back to my word of the year for 2019, DHARMA. I really stuck to it even though sometimes it might not have seemed that way. Progress over perfection. This is why reflection is so important to where you are headed.

You don’t realize how much a year can change your life until you reflect. My new word for this upcoming word is EXPANSION. I want to expand on what 2019 brought me. I will soon be starting 2020 off in a new town and I am excited to see what it has to offer! Change can be scary but it also can create growth like you have never felt.

If you haven’t done some self reflecting on 2019, I suggest you do so. Focus on the good and look at how far you have come. This will help you create your goals and intentions for 2020 and a positive mindset for starting the year.

Journaling prompts for self reflection…

If I could tell my 2018 self about 2019, what would I say?

If I could pick 2 pivotal moments from 2019 what would they be?

What was the greatest improvements I have made this year?

How can 2020 be even better than 2019?

What do I plan to bring to the table in 2020?

I would love to hear from you! Let me know if something resonates, and keep being your best, true self! Thank you to those who have reached out on my special day and I hope you all have the best New Year!

Mom Wellness, Self Care

Motherhood Mantras to Get You Through the Day

As mothers, we have a tough, thankless job that doesn’t come with any handbook with directions on how to navigate motherhood. We are forced to tap into that divine feminine intuition that sometimes can be tough to listen to when we are tired, working, trying to raise kind, responsible human beings and juggling all life throws at us. That can lead to opportunities for negative narratives filling up your mind. Then comes the comparisons to other mothers, without much help from social media. It then leads to focusing on what we did wrong to what a horrible parent we are. You can head down a rabbit hole of despair fairly quickly.

But there are some things we can do to stay centered and close to the Goddess Mother within you. The more we work on our own narrative, the more others will catch on as well. If anything we need more now, it’s to support each other in this motherhood journey even if situations are not the same. We need to unite as mothers because, let’s be honest, it takes a village to raise a child!

So how can we do that?

Changing the narrative.

Sounds easier said than done, I know. But don’t complicate it because it is a simple task, we can all do. When you find negative thoughts flooding your mind, instantly turn it into something positive. Whether its immediately thinking of 3 things you are grateful for or just saying something positive about yourself instead. This will train your mind into releasing the negative and focusing on the positive. Instead of thinking about everything you did wrong, think about everything you did right! I guarantee that list is longer!

Something else I love, love, love are Affirmations.

Affirmations are positive, unique mantras or statements about you or your situation that you can play on repeat in your mind daily. You can choose one daily or a few different ones to repeat throughout the day. I suggest starting your day, upon waking, with an affirmation that will set the tone for the day. Write it down so you can be reminded of it often.

If you are having trouble coming up with your own, here is a list of 30 Motherhood Mantras that will get you through the chaos that motherhood comes with.

  1. I love myself enough, to nurture myself, so I have an abundance of love to give to others.
  2. I trust my intuition to lead me in my motherhood journey.
  3. I am capable of amazing things because I helped create life.
  4. I love the body that created and carried my child(ren).
  5. My body is beautiful and deserves grace in this season of healing.
  6. I am centered and focused on healing my postpartum mind, body, and soul.
  7. I am strong because I helped create, carry and birth my little one(s).
  8. Peace begins with me. The more peaceful I am inside, the more peace I have to share with others. – Louise Hay
  9. This is just a season of life that needs me to nurture and be nurtured.
  10. I love myself because_____________.
  11. I am filled with an abundance of love.
  12. Today I will find peace in knowing that the sun always rises and so will I.
  13. Even the littlest thing I do, serves the greater good of my family.
  14. I parent with confidence, without guilt or comparisons. Other mothers are not me, as I am not them.
  15. I give myself permission to do something that nourishes my mind, body and soul.
  16. Loving my child(ren) is more important than loving every moment of motherhood.
  17. I am a good mom, even as I work to become a better one.
  18. I was chosen to parent my child because I was exactly what he/she needed.
  19. There is an abundance of love and peace in this home, even in the midst of chaos.
  20. I am grateful for the time I get to spend with my child(ren).
  21. I will do my best as a mom, and that is always enough.
  22. I am more than enough for my baby.
  23. I am present and grateful in this moment.
  24. I will model self-love to my child(ren) without guilt.
  25. The struggles I push through today will be the strengths I gain tomorrow.
  26. My love is given from my full, heart centered, cup.
  27. I will let go of how I think today is supposed to go and accept how it flows.
  28. I am grateful for my ability to create and carry life.
  29. I was brought to this moment because I am strong enough to thrive through this situation gracefully.
  30. I am going with the flow of life and I am peaceful knowing it will all be OK.

I hope starting this affirmation practice gives you the confidence you need to be your best Goddess Mother self, even when life challenges it.

Exercise, Self Care

Weightlifting and Yoga; Yin and Yang for Your Fitness Routine

Being a Personal Trainer and a Yoga Teacher, it’s obvious my fitness routine is includes both, weights and yoga. Weightlifting and Yoga are like Yin and Yang, balancing the body in every way it needs. Strength training helps breakdown and build muscle while yoga speeds up muscle recovery and improves flexibility, all the while, connecting to your highest self. Strength training is the outer work while yoga is the inner work. This yummy duo packs a punch when it comes to improving your fitness progress. I believe in balance and these are two tools you don’t want to miss out on your own Balancebuilding® journey. Adding a mix of both to your weekly fitness routine has endless benefits but here’s a few reasons why you should be considering it.

Stretching and increasing flexibility..

  • Increases endurance and strength
  • Improves balance and flexibility
  • Improves body posture

Improving these things will…

  • Encourage muscle growth
  • Improve muscle efficiency
  • Improve circulation
  • Decrease lactic acid build up
  • Reduce muscle recovery time

And not to mention, you get all of the other blissful benefits of yoga including…

  • Improve respiration, energy and vitality
  • Encourage relaxation
  • Decreasing stress
  • Reduction in inflammation
  • Promote sleep quality
  • Relieve anxiety
  • Can reduce chronic pain

Yoga could be the key to unlocking the extra nudge in progress you need. Start out by trying a yoga class on YouTube or find a local class you enjoy. There is so much more to gain than lose from just trying!

*If you are local to me, in Morgantown, WV, I teach a biweekly Stretch and Flex Yoga Class every other saturday at 9am at the MindBody Center (2000 Coombs Farm Road). See you there!

Register for a Class HERE!

Mom Wellness, Self Care, Women's Health

Chasing the “Love” Hormone

I have stumbled upon yet again a new Balancebuilding journey for myself that hit me unexpectedly, although it really shouldn’t have. Its the moment I left my Milkmaker title behind and stopped breastfeeding. It was February 14th and Maddux was staying with the in laws while my husband and I went on our annual date to The Forks Inn, Maddux had been only nursing at night for a couple of months and I realized this was my chance to eliminate the night nursing! Yessss! After the roller coaster ride we had been on with breastfeeding, the indescribable bond with Maddux, the oversupply issues, the elimination dieting due to allergies, the gratitude of being able to breastfeed my son who has allergies, the crying over all of the pumped milk that couldn’t be used because of allergies, the abundance of emotion of donating hundreds of ounces of milk to a mother who adopted a baby with formula sensitivities, the pumping and the exhausting self advocacy at work. I am so thankful I was able to breastfeed, but after 15 months of it I was so excited to have some body freedom and sleep back,  so much so, that I didn’t pay attention or plan according to the actual physiological changes that happen afterwards.

Thankfully, we had a long, gradual weaning process which probably made things a little better than they could have potentially been. But my body was definitely missing the prolactin (hormone for milk production- also brings feelings of calmness, well-being, and relaxation) and the oxytocin (hormone required for the “let-down” of breastfeeding- also known as the Love hormone). I felt down, unmotivated, irritable and just not myself. And not to mention, the instant 10 lbs I gained back because I am now not burning the extra 500 calories or more a day, that was nice while it lasted. Breastfeeding was legit my cardio for most of that time period. (Thank you Jesus, because I didn’t sleep for 15 months, so that wasn’t a priority) So with that, and eliminating multiple foods from my diet and going on a more plant based journey I was able to get back to my pre pregnancy weight. But how could I have not planned for this moment?! This is what I do, prepare and recover the body through each Balancebuilding season. Well, I am just a mom like a lot of you, trying to balance everything, family, work, home, and wasn’t as concerned about myself as I should have been. Sometimes it can be so challenging to be proactive for ourselves but it is so important. I think the key thing to remember at all times is that it is NEVER too late to start caring for yourself. One thing I am thankful for that I have been gifted through all of my Balancebuilding journeys is self-awareness. I was self aware enough to know that I wasn’t feeling my normal self, I needed to support myself during this time and that this too shall pass.

Oxytocin is a hormone produced by the hypothalamus and secreted by the tiny, pea sized, pituitary gland. This hormone is associated with trust, anxiety, bonds, and relaxation. The production of oxytocin is controlled by a positive feedback mechanism. When this mechanism is triggered, oxytocin is released.

So mainly what I am after is naturally creating more of the “love” hormone minus the breastfeeding. Whether you are a guy, a girl, a mom who breastfeeds or a mom who doesn’t, this list of ways to chase feel good hormones can benefit anyone. But I am also not discounting real mental health issues, if you are someone who has been dealing with intense feelings of depressions/anxiety, please reach out to your physician.

So, here are some things I am actively working on to boost my mood…

  • Creating a nourishing food/workout plan
    • Now that Maddux has a spot on structure with nap and bedtime, I am able to plan out my days better, my workouts/yoga/cardio, meal planning, etc., I can be more consistent, which is key for success.
    • Reverse dieting- Eating with a caloric intake that is high enough without gaining fat while eating enough to feel satisfied. This helps with cravings and binge eating.
  • Adding in foods that contain Tryptophan which can promote oxytocin production.
    • Eggs
    • Bananas
    • Yogurt
    • Rice
    • Quinoa
    • Salmon
    • Beans
    • Spirulina
    • Potatoes
  • Diaphragmatic breathing
    • Breathing deep and slow, filling up the lower part of the lungs into the belly actually immediately triggers the vagas nerve which is directly related to our parasympathetic nervous system.
    • Lowers stress responses associated with “fight or flight” mechanism
    • Improves heart rate variability- which is the measurement of variations between beat-to-beat intervals.
    • This is great to do anytime, anywhere for any amount of emotion, anxiety, stress, or irritability- because life.
  • Hugs
    • Oxytocin actually gets released when you hug or hold someone close for at least 30 seconds! It is a little tough to hug or hold onto a toddler for this long but I take what I can get!
  • Getting outside
    • Thank goodness it is spring! This warmth and sunlight is everything right now! Nature stimulates all of the feel good emotions.
    • Even taking it a step farther and grounding bare foot in the grass instantly helps balance and transfer energy improving our health.
  • Exercise/Yoga
    • Literally exercise and yoga fixes everything, it boosts dopamine and oxytocin, reducing stress and improving confidence and love for your self. #selflove
  • Increasing Magnesium intake
    • relieves anxiety by promoting oxytocin production
    • relieves constipation
    • strengthens bones
    • can help with migraines and headaches
    • relieves premenstrual symptoms
    • increases energy levels
    • fights inflammation
    • You can find magnesium in foods like spinach, pumpkin seeds, yogurt, avocado, figs, almonds, black beans. You can also take a supplement capsule as well.
  • Meditation
    • Meditation promotes a higher level relationship with yourself and a broader connection with others. It enables oxytocin, positive emotions, lower blood pressure and cortisol levels. It can increase pain thresholds and provide healing. Meditation is so powerful and underutilized.

These are things I have always done but now I am reprioritizing my Balancebuilding journey specific to what I need at this moment. Right now I just need a little extra self care to get me through this rough patch. As soon as I came up with a plan I instantly felt better. Just goes to show you, sometimes it is the simple things that make the biggest differences!

 

Mom Wellness, Self Care, Women's Health

Trying to Conceive? Balancebuilding before Babybuilding

The motherly instinct we get as women kicks in long before baby gets here. As mothers, or future mothers, we need to plan ahead in creating the most fertile and healthiest environment in our bodies for the baby and ourselves. The road to a positive pregnancy test can be daunting so taking action months prior to conception can get your body at its peak level to support conception and a growing baby.

So, what are the first steps you should take after making the decision to expand your family?

1. Schedule an appt with your OB/GYN.

Scheduling a pre-pregnancy appointment where your physician can review your family history, health issues, past pregnancies, what to expect and a plan moving forward. And it is always a must to consult your physician before making any changes to your health regimen.

2. Check your lifestyle and manage your stress.

Now is a good time to engage in stress management tools such as yoga, meditation, breathing techniques, eating healthy, exercise or whatever you consider healthy self-care to be. Evidence states that everyday stressor can impact fertility but most experts believe that this isn’t due directly to the stress but the stress from the unhealthy habits that people turn to in response to the stress like smoking, drinking, overeating, undereating, neglecting to exercise, etc.

Using the Holmes-Rahe stress scale can help you calculate your own stress levels based on huge life events and everyday stressors. If you are under a serious amount of stress, talk openly to your physician about it so they can work closely with you to help manage it.

 3. Evaluate your health and diet.

According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG), you should focus before and during pregnancy, on consuming a healthy, balanced, vitamin rich diet. Being underweight or overweight, going into a pregnancy, can have adverse effects on you and the baby’s health.

Risks to being underweight:

  • Fertility issues
  • Increased risk of miscarriage
  • Low birth weight baby
  • Preterm labor
  • Labor issues
  • Health and behavior issues well into childhood and even adulthood

Risks to being overweight:

  • Fertility issues
  • Increased risk of miscarriage
  • High blood pressure
  • Preeclampsia
  • Preterm birth
  • Gestational Diabetes
  • Macrosomia- Larger than normal baby
  • Increased risk of birth injury and cesarean birth
  • Increased risk of Neural Tube Defects
  • Increased body fat can make it difficult for your health care provider accurately monitor the baby.

These are definitely good reasons to start evaluating your health and start thinking about what you are consuming. It is also important to make sure you are getting enough vitamins and minerals in your diet. It can be tough to get in all of the vitamins and minerals we need from food alone so the ACOG also suggests taking a prenatal vitamin even before becoming pregnant.

List of important vitamin and minerals to enable a healthy pre-pregnancy body (ALWAYS consult your provider before taking any supplements):

  • Zinc– Important for Men and Women prior to getting pregnant
    • 25-50 mg per day for fertility purposes
    • For women
      • Zinc helps the body utilize estrogen and progesterone in the body.
      • Regulates menstrual cycles.
      • Enables high quality, mature eggs ready to be fertilized.
      • Zinc deficiency can cause miscarriage, imbalanced hormones, irregular periods, and ovarian issues.
    • For men
      • Helps develop high quality, mature sperm and a higher quantity, making it easier to fertilize the egg.
      • Zinc deficiency can cause low sperm count, chromosomal defects (due to the low quality of the sperm that fertilized), which can lead to miscarriage.
    • Foods that contain Zinc
      • Sunflower seeds
      • Pumpkin seeds
      • Eggs
      • Beef
      • Turkey
      • Shrimp
      • Venison
      • Whole grains
      • Dairy that contains whole fat
  • Folic Acid/Folate
    • 400 micrograms daily at least one month before becoming pregnant
    • 600 micrograms daily while pregnant
    • Taking a supplement containing folic acid can help assure you consume enough.
    • When taken before pregnancy and during pregnancy folic acid helps prevent neural tube defects. Just by taking the recommended dose of folic acid prior to conceiving, you can decrease the chances of an NTD in from 4.8 in 1000 babies to 1 in 1000 babies, according to the Center for Disease Control.
  • Iron
    • 27mg daily for Pregnant women, half of that dose for a non-pregnant woman.
    • Iron is used by your body to make a substance in red blood cells that carries oxygen to your organs and tissues. During pregnancy, your body needs extra iron to make more blood to supply oxygen to the baby.
    • Research shows only one in five fertile women starts her pregnancy with adequate iron levels.
    • A study on how Iron affects infertility shows that women who consumed iron supplements had a significantly lower risk of ovulatory infertility than women who did not use iron supplements.
    • Taking a prenatal vitamin supplies you with adequate Iron but you can also get Iron from certain foods including…
      • Lean red meat
      • Poultry
      • Fish
      • Dried beans
      • Peas
      • Iron fortified cereals
    • Iron rich foods are also more easily absorbed if ate with Vitamin C rich foods like…
      • Citrus fruits
      • Tomatoes 

4. Ditch the Toxic Products.

  • Scientific evidence accumulated over the last 15 years have shown that exposure to toxic chemicals before conception and during pregnancy can have significant and long-lasting effects on reproductive health, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.
  • This research, along with the Environmental Working Group’s research, has determined that reproductive health problems linked to toxic chemicals in cosmetics and other personal care products include…
    • Infertility
    • Low birth weight
    • Preterm birth
    • Cancers
    • Birth defects
  • These toxic chemicals are not regulated and continue to be used in common household products and beauty products.
  • These toxic chemicals include but not limited to…
    • Pesticides
    • Synthetic fragrance
    • Phthalates- a family of toxic chemicals that have been linked to allergies and asthma, infertility, reduced testosterone concentrations, and abnormal development of reproductive system in baby boys.
    • Formaldehyde, a known carcinogen
    • Mercury- which can lead to kidney and nervous system damage
    • Lead- a known neurotoxin
    • Asbestos- a carcinogen
    • Isobutylparaben, isopropylparaben, butylparaben and propylparaben- research shows parabens can be linked to breast cancer and disruption to the endocrine system.
    • Toluene- toxic to the brain and nervous system
    • Triclosan- affects the thyroid
  • Do your own research and be your own advocate. Take action and replace your household cleaners and beauty products with more natural products. Research companies and take labels that claim they are “natural” or “organic” as face value because they are not regulated by the fda, so these companies are not required to show all ingredients or disclose what is really in the product.
  • Download the Think Dirty App to help you find out where your favorite products rank on a toxicity scale!

5. Start Exercising if you don’t already.

  • Exercise has so many health benefits so you can’t go wrong with starting a new exercise routine to incorporate in your Pre-Pregnancy health regimen that continues during pregnancy.
  • Physical activity does not increase your risk of miscarriage, low birth weight, or early delivery, according to the ACOG.
  • Regular exercise during pregnancy benefits you and your baby in many ways including…
    • Reduces back pain
    • Helps digestion
    • May decrease your risk of gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and cesarean delivery
    • Promotes healthy weight gain during pregnancy
    • Improves your overall fitness and strengthens your heart and blood vessels
    • Helps with endurance and strength to endure child birth
    • Helps you to lose the baby weight after baby is born
  • Exercise Guidelines for Pregnant Women- “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that pregnant women get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week. An aerobic activity is one in which you move large muscles of the body (like those in the legs and arms) in a rhythmic way. Moderate intensity means you are moving enough to raise your heart rate and start sweating. You still can talk normally, but you cannot sing. If you are new to exercise, start out slowly and gradually increase your activity. Begin with as little as 5 minutes a day. Add 5 minutes each week until you can stay active for 30 minutes a day.
  • If you were very active before pregnancy, you can keep doing the same workouts with your health care professional’s approval. However, if you start to lose weight, you may need to increase the number of calories that you eat.” https://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Exercise-During-Pregnancy
  • Examples of moderate-intensity aerobic activity include brisk walking and general gardening (raking, weeding, or digging). You can divide the 150 minutes into 30-minute workouts on 5 days of the week or into smaller 10-minute workouts throughout each day.

6. Have fun!

Trying to conceive can be stressful and disappointing for so many, do your best to eliminate stress, become your best, balanced self and rely on your health care provider for any questions or concerns! Best wishes on your TTC Journey!

Sources:

https://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Good-Health-Before-Pregnancy-Prepregnancy-Care

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140529092816.htm

https://www.conceiveeasy.com/get-pregnant/zinc-and-your-fertility/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10559448

https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/news/story/3150/pre-conception-and-early-pregnancy-iron-deficiency-harms-brain.aspx

https://journals.lww.com/greenjournal/pages/articleviewer.aspx?year=2006&issue=11000&article=00015&type=fulltext

https://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Nutrition-During-Pregnancy#iron

https://www.ewg.org/research/exposing-cosmetics-cover/toxic-chemicals-threaten-healthy-births

https://www.ewg.org/californiacosmetics/toxic20

https://www.ewg.org/enviroblog/2015/11/common-preservative-in-personal-care-products-linked-breast-cancer

https://www.ewg.org/enviroblog/2008/12/phthalates-phthalates-everywhere

https://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Exercise-During-Pregnancy

Chemicals in Makeup: Controversial Chemicals, Popular Alternatives, and How to Learn What You’re Putting on Your Face