Posted on Leave a comment

Mind over Mama-Brain

Untitled design-16

I have to admit, I went quite a bit off the wagon with my health habits during the first few weeks of knowing I’m pregnant. Something clicked inside of me that wanted comfort, I did not want to cook, and I was emotional. Like I mentioned in my previous post– I had the “what the hell are we thinkings?” going on for several weeks. I am not a good pregnant person. I worry, I obsess, I become a ball of anxious stress. That is; until I get the all clear from the doctor that the pregnancy looks viable and is on track. As soon as we had our first ultrasound and I heard the heartbeat, my anxiety levels bottomed out.

Also, planning with my doctor to manage my risk of preeclampsia alleviated a lot of my stress. My doctor praised me for my diet and body changes over the course of this year, so I regained hope and had to revisit my relationship with the lectin-free diet. Why is the lectin-free diet such an important factor? My entire physiology changed after getting in a groove with my diet. Anxiety and postpartum depression ceased, I lost over 20 pounds, and the shape of my body changed. I have lost weight many times, but never actually lost the puffiness in my upper abdomen and actually been able to keep it off. My hormones regulated, I stopped having digestive issues, and my moods stabilized. As you can see, I received many benefits from these dietary changes.

I felt off the rails for a bit– eating what I wanted, eating emotionally, and feeling I deserved the junk because I was carrying a baby. My logical mind knows much better. I know that it is a slippery slope moving from something that obviously works very well (and probably a key factor as to why we conceived so easily) to something that was known to cause many issues! I had to readjust my mind and diligence to keep myself on the program. Being pregnant, working, raising 2 other children and being a wife is a lot of work. Healthy eating is also a lot of work, and a lot of money. However it is something that will prevent many problems down the road, so the investment of time and money is worth it.

To be successful with a plan I have to find my belief. I research, study, make plans, do a lot of trial and error. Once the parameters were established and I figured out the websites to visit, cookbooks to use, and where to buy the food I was set. We rotate a few of our favorites and occasionally try something new. When I think of something I am choosing to do for health and wellness, or habit changing I always put my kids first. What am I modeling for them? My choices are often reflected in their behavior and attitudes. We have proven time and time again that if my teen overeats sugar or carbs, his attitude is much worse. If I am choosing a fast food meal over a nourishing meal of protein and vegetables and allowing my toddler to have those tastes, his tastes will develop around what he is fed. And now I am the keeper and incubator of another wee one, and this baby’s well-being is also going to be determined by my choices.

When I take a step in the wrong direction, it just takes some strength of mind to dust myself off and get back on track. Remembering the pain of the past often makes it easier to face the discomfort of a green smoothie over Chick-Fil-A. The “pleasure” I receive from eating something that does not nourish my body is not worth the damage it does. I can take this lesson and apply it to many aspects of my life. How often am I reaching for something that feels pleasurable that ultimately does not line up with my goals? Am I talking to and about others in a constructive manner? Am I spending my money wisely? Am I working my business effectively? You get the idea. Keeping on track will make things feel much better in the long run.

Posted on Leave a comment

Backwards With Time


avett-brothers-2390713_640The Avett Brothers are one of my favorite bands. The lyrics and title of the song Backwards With Time have been floating through my head most of the day. Backwards With Time. Am I losing my mind, or am I going backwards with time?  This verse is what I want to focus on for a moment in my writing.

Goals, decisions, choices. I think about these things a lot. Why would we ever feel like we are losing our minds or going backwards in time?  Why would someone work hard to achieve something then let all they have worked for go away? I know I have been guilty of this. An example is losing 25 pounds, managing it keep the weight off for a year and gain it all back in a matter of months. My answer is complacency. We get tired of working hard, or feel we “deserve” things to keep working on its own without the same effort. For me, I am learning to make lifestyle changes permanent. Changing bad habits– making true change, and keeping up with my vision of what true health and wellness is. I refuse to settle for only feeling “okay”. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

I have had a lot of bad habits in my life. One thing I have learned is that once you know better, it feels way worse to “backslide”. Yesterday when I sat down with my Avett Brother’s playlist I was in one of those moments where bad habits were lurking in my mind. I felt stressed, overwhelmed, and questioned some advice I was given (that I knew I needed to take). My first response was to react in anger (which for me is the cover emotion for absolutely every other emotion), then the thought of devouring a box of cookies felt like a good choice.

My mind was searching for something to soothe or procrastinate the actions I knew I needed to take for my ultimate wellness. Why, oh why is suffering such an “easy” choice? Stepping out of our comfort zone and doing something different– thinking a new thought and doing it, even if it feels uncomfortable often leads to personal growth that we can not even fathom. Lifestyle change, permanent change requires tapping into an internal strength and commitment to the light at the end of the tunnel that we may only get a glimpse of on occasion. Strengthening our focus, staying attuned to that glimpse makes the day to day actions toward whatever it is at the end of the tunnel feel less elusive. The key is to get out of complacency, pushing against resistance and catapulting up and out of the funk that sometimes feels like we may be losing our minds or going backwards in time.

Posted on Leave a comment

Maybe the Best Present is to Be Present?


We have been home from our family vacation/pilgrimage to Maine for about 2 weeks. I was essentially unplugged for the duration of the trip. Travel and family vacations are such a romantic idea. Seeing the world, eating wonderful food, making memories. I wish I could approach travel with that ideal. Although I make memories and see beautiful sites, a piece of me stresses about sleep, bathroom breaks, itineraries, expense, and food additives.

I have done a lot of study on personality types. Colors, Gems, Shapes, Enneagrams. I have taken all of the tests, and it always concludes that a big part of my personality is a green, an emerald, a square– or in other words, someone who likes routine and structure. I tend to get stressed about 3 days before we travel, then I have fun until it is time to start planning the return. My husband and I are opposite personality types. Following his lead in many ways has really helped balance my uptight-ness, and loosen my desire for control.

I have written a few times that I grew up in a chaotic home, and that is why I developed this personality trait. It gave me a feeling of security and control. I found order and success in my chaos by planning, knowing what to expect, and living somewhat as an introvert. Don’t get me wrong, I love people, connecting, AND having fun– I just require a certain amount of quiet to recharge my batteries.

Softening the rigidity of my personality is something I have been reflecting on since our return. Learning to go with the flow while running a business, and managing a family, as well as maintaining a balanced amount of discipline and structure is huge in my mind since returning from our vacation. Historically, summer stresses me out. My older son travels and spends many weeks away, we attend convention, and make a few other stops during June and July. I feel my entire schedule has to be written in pencil, which is difficult for someone who prefers permanent marker!

I am not bad-mouthing this quality within myself–being structured and disciplined can get a lot accomplished. I had the realization that I utilize a lot of mental intensity on thoughts of whats next? or why? or how? All of these questions are future based and by putting so much energy into trying to control the future, I often miss the good, or am not fully present to that which is right in front of me. Being present centered and not stressing about the past or future creates space to recognize the blessings in what I have created thus far, and allows me to see the beauty of all of my surroundings. This keeps my nervous system balanced and grounded, reducing stress by not putting energy into the unknown. I will never be a fly by the seat of my pants kind of girl, however I will allow myself to feel safe and secure so that along life’s journey I can sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.

Posted on 1 Comment

Growing Pains


Today, I am sitting down to write. I have looked at this screen and have not known where to go with my posting. I jot down words and half sentences nearly every day, however knowing where to go with those notes is often perplexing. Today I am writing on what it means for me to be an adult. My birthday is coming up tomorrow, so what a perfect season to reflect on adulthood. I mentioned in a previous post that I had to grow up quickly. I did. I took on adult responsibilities like earning an income, buying groceries, doing my own laundry, etc. These tasks are part of being an adult, although the longer I’ve been on this earth, the more I’m finding the meaning of growing up is much deeper than the chores I manage.

Becoming emotionally mature has been a much bigger piece than the “tasks” of day-to-day adulthood. How my life goes, how it is perceived, how I struggle (or enjoy) all depends on what goes on in my mind. If the world is my mirror then I must approach the world with positive attitude so that this place I inhabit is a positive place.  In all of my self-improvement studies and yoga practices I have heard the words “forgive”, “let go”, and other flowery words that sound so nice and peaceful. My mind would always struggle with those concepts. How do I let go? How do I keep the thoughts, the pains, the pressure from returning?

The word to describe the “how” of letting go and forgiving is surrender. Surrender is the ability to balance and calm emotions when we are being very rigid or stuck in our ways. Often when we’ve experienced a trauma or a tremendous pain, we carry that pain with us for years or even decades. This can block our vision to a happier, healthier future. The negativity can create stress in our bodies, and the longer we hold the stress we create tension patterns that can then turn to disease. When we surrender, we relax our bodies and clear our minds so that we can focus on what is important and the steps to get to the “other side”. The “other side” is just living in a space where we operate from joy and from love.

If we can operate from a space of joy and love we can truly begin to enjoy life, see the beauty of what is around us. Sometimes stormy thoughts keep us from noticing what is good even if it is right in front of our face. Choosing to surrender, in a sense cleanses the mind and the body. Any fear, anxiety, or negative chemistry are then released and  softness is created in the body, a release of tension. When we release tension from negative emotions, we are maturing and defeating an enemy of sorts– the enemy that is ourselves.

Posted on Leave a comment

Judgement Free Zone


Tuesday evening I watched my son receive his green belt in Tae Kwon Do. Several times a week I sit in the dojang waiting on his class to end. I look around and see the tenets of Tae Kwon Do on the wall. As a yoga practitioner, it hit me that his tenants are very similar to what Patanjali spoke of in the Yoga Sutras. This is a book of attitudes and behaviors, if we embody will lead to a more purposeful life. The Sutras are a list of to-dos and restraints that we can align our actions towards.

Lately, I have been contemplating judgement. This would be addressed in the TKD tenet of courtesy and in yoga as ahimsa or non-violence. How we judge others is often a reflection of how we judge ourselves. If we are self-critical, we have a near constant stream of internal dialog running. For me, I started contemplating judgement because everything I do in my profession is of service– as a mother, a doula, a yogi, and an entrepreneur. How can I truly serve people if I am coming from a place of judgement?

I took a video of my son doing his form for his belt test, when I went back and watched it I can see that he is very aware of his body, looking at his feet and his arms to make sure his form was in proper alignment as he was supposed to be in a place of stillness and strength. Feelings of insecurity, unworthiness, fear or worry about the past and future  are often the culprits of any sort of judgement. This can cause us to become our own worst bully. The things we think are energy, and judgement creates an energy of criticism.

Becoming aware of our thoughts is the first way to begin to make a change. Thoughts have a lot of power. They are in fact, things. If we are intensely thinking negative, we can quickly downward spiral because thoughts become words, words become behaviors, behaviors become habits and our habits then become our values. Svadhyaya in yoga is self-study or observation. When we become aware of how we think, how much energy we give to certain thoughts, whether constructive or destructive we can begin to make a change. The opposite of judgement is love and compassion, so when a thought of judgement of self or others come up, quickly switch to a loving thought.

For me, the place I see my self-judgement the most is when I sit to meditate, which mimics what I see in Keenan’s forms class. I will sit and bring my focus on my breath, and that is where the judgement begins and my breath will constrict and become shallow. I judge how I breathe! I tell myself I will never be able to do it right! Breathe?!? This is something I have been doing naturally, each and every day since the moment I was born. Pretty ridiculous to judge and stop myself from breathing, lol. Being gently aware of this, I can begin to release the judgement and criticism. Love myself one breath at a time!