by Erica Rood, M.Ed.
What mother does not want her daughter to feel good about herself? To feel capable, worthwhile, content with who she is, and confident in where she is going? Research has shown that mothers play a significant role in the development of their daughter’s self esteem. Mothers are the ultimate role models for their daughters. The values and attitudes they model and teach are internalized by their daughters and shape their daughters’ self-image and views of the world. While mothering a daughter can be one of the most rewarding relationships, it can also be full of intense emotional extremes, especially during the teen years, when independence beckons. During this time, a healthy and respectful relationship is the key to effective communication. You can lay a strong foundation of trust and respect by establishing open and honest lines of communication early in your daughter’s life. One way in which to do this is to share creative, inspiring experiences together.
Yoga is an excellent tool for creating a sense of openness and awareness. I have received an overwhelmingly positive response from mothers and girls who have participated in my Mother-Daughter Yoga series. In these classes, moms and daughters share so much more than yoga; we engage in inspiring conversations, lively activities, and creative projects, all of which center around important topics including self-image, friendships, stress, bullying, and more. There are so many benefits to learning and having fun in a group setting, but you can also benefit from sharing a creative yoga practice at home.
Here are a few playful and purposeful poses for you and your daughter to try. The suggested poses, conversation starters, and activities are designed to enhance communication in a natural, relaxed way. Use the yoga as an opportunity to take off your “parent hat” and get down on your daughter’s level. Allow yourself to be vulnerable and honest and you will see your daughter do the same.
ROCKY BOAT POSE
Off the mat: Use boat pose as a springboard into a discussion about how life will present challenges that make you feel unstable. It’s during those times, when we need to reach out for support from each other. Discuss the challenges each of you face. Share how you react to challenges. Do you ask for help? Do you work through challenges alone? Do you avoid challenges altogether?
Activity: Role-play challenging situations and explore different responses.
STABLE SIDE PLANK
Start facing each other in a plank or modified plank (like the top of a push- up, with knees up or knees down to modify.) Rock to the edge of your right foot and press into your right hand. Slide your left leg on top of right and reach for each other’s left hand. If you feel the pose is easy and you are stable, try to lift your top leg. If you are feeling unstable, take your right knee down for extra support. Switch sides.
Off the mat: Use this pose to launch a discussion about the importance of maintaining balance in life. Talk about how to determine when it’s appropriate to add an extra challenge or activity and when you should back off and reach out for support. What events or activities make you feel off-balanced and stressed? How do you balance your current activities and keep your stress level low? What can you do to create more balance in your life?
Activity: Create a “Balance Sheet” that lists actions you can take to maintain balance in your life. Schedule a “Day of Balance” when you try an activity together.
TWIST OUT TOXINS
Sit back-to-back in a comfortable cross-legged position. Take a big belly- breath in and reach your arms up. As you breath out, turn and twist to the right. Reach around for each other’s knees. Switch sides.
Off the mat: Twists are great for detoxing the body and a perfect opportunity to start a discussion about maintaining a healthy lifestyle. What are some of your favorite healthy foods? What new food or recipe can you explore together?
Activity: Go online together and research the nutritional values of some of your favorite foods. Are you surprised? Find a healthy recipe you can make together. There are delicious suggestions on sites like Pinterest.
Start standing tall with your feet together. Step your left foot back and pivot your foot slightly (about 45 degrees.) Bend your right knee and keep your left leg straight. Extend your arms and reach your fingertips away from each other. Feel your amazing strength and shout out: “I am strong!”
Off the mat: Warrior poses are symbolic of strength. They challenge our bodies and in turn, challenge our minds. Use this pose to talk about inner vs. outer strength. When is it appropriate to use physical strength? When do you need to tap into your inner strength? Share your experiences of using your inner and outer strength.
Activity: Create a “Wise Warrior” collage. Cut out pictures and words that describe qualities of inner and outer strength. Include pictures of personal heroes and role models.
If you’re interested in joining a Mother- Daughter Yoga series or hosting one at your home, please contact me. It is my passion and purpose to empower moms and daughters and inspire young women to live confident, happy lives!
Although, Lacy Arnold struggled with becoming a mom and with her weight, she candidly shares her journey that led her to win a bikini competition and a thriving wellness business as a mom.
TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOURSELF.
I grew up in a large family and I always wanted babies from the time I was about 2 years old. My biggest dream in life was to be a mother, but that didn’t easily happen for me. I had years of struggle and infertility. But now I am a mom of 3 wonderful kids.
One of my passions is health and fitness. I have a degree in Health and Wellness and I am certified as a Personal Trainer and Nutritionist.
I was always interested in that field. I love being in the outdoors and being really active.
I own LeanMoms.com, which is a company for moms that provides a holistic healthy lifestyle program. And I’m also a co-owner of a meditation company called, Sculptations.com, a scientifically engineered audio tool that anyone can use to sculpt the life he or she wants. I help write the scripts for the guided meditations.
WHAT WAS YOUR JOURNEY THAT LED YOU TO CREATE YOUR HEALTH AND WELLNESS BUSINESSES?
It was kind of a long process. Before I had children I got into the health field, earned my degree and certifications. I was fascinated about how women’s bodies function differently and why they need special care, especially after they have children.
For me, after undergoing through years of infertility treatments, it took a toll on my self-esteem as well as my body image. I’d gain 10-20 pounds, then I’d lose some and then gain them back. Finally, after 5 years, I finally got pregnant.
During that time, I wanted to make sure I did everything right, even though I wasn’t sure what that was. So, I ate a lot, because I felt I needed to feed the baby also. I ended up gaining an additional 65 pounds through that pregnancy.
At that time, my main focus was to get pregnant and have the baby. My perception of a mom growing up was that after you have a baby, your body is just shot and you would be fat forever and that’s just the way it is.
Even though I was so ecstatic to be a mom, I remember looking in the mirror one day and just feeling depressed with what I saw. I didn’t feel good. I didn’t have enough energy and I wanted more. Then I felt guilty for feeling bad, because I wanted to be a mom so badly and I had what I wanted.
I started researching and doing different weight loss programs. A lot of them were unhealthy ways. And as a mom, I was stressed out and displayed a lot of emotional eating behaviors.
Then I went on to have two more babies through IVF. As a result, my body was just shot by the time I had my third baby. I felt like I was 60 years old. I really wanted real and lasting change. So, I just took the bull by the horns and decided that I needed to create a way for moms to feel better.
I formulated and followed a health and fitness program, competed in a couple of bikini competitions and won one of them, which was huge for me because I started at over 200 pounds and ended up winning an NPC bikini competition!
So, that stirred up my passion and showed me that moms can be fit, lean and sexy. The question was how to balance it all correctly. It doesn’t have to be something that takes you away from your family or is another task on your to do list per se. You can incorporate all these things that I teach in my Lean Moms program into your everyday life.
WHAT DOES LEAN MOMS OFFER?
Lean Moms is a company based on a holistic program for busy moms. We are just in the process of launching a new program, which has 4 parts and starts with resetting their bodies by doing a detox cleanse. The second piece is reintroducing nutrients for moms specifically, because their bodies get so depleted through childbirth and everything. It’s based on following a whole foods meal plan. Thirdly, there are 15 minute fat- burning workouts you can do at once or break it up throughout the day for amazing results.
My philosophy is going back to our primal state when fitness was incorporated into people’s everyday lives.
Lastly, my favorite part is the mindset component, which is one of the pieces that gets overlooked when striving for a healthy lifestyle. The mindset component is meditation based on MRT Technology to retrain your brain. I have one on emotional eating, ideal body image, as well as, a relaxation one before going to sleep and when you wake up.
TELL US ABOUT SCULPTATIONS.COM.
My business partner and I create audio meditations using MRT technology, which is a unique combination of binaural beats, heartbeat, and breathing technology along with empowering music that are all specially engineered to train your brain for success.
Each MindSculpting Track is scientifically proven to affect brain wave patterns to induce positive effects. This includes laser-like focus, enhanced creativity, greater problem-solving capabilities, and an accelerated learning capacity.
My business partner writes the harmonic meditations and I write the scripts for the guided meditations. We launched the company, because we felt that a lot of people didn’t really understand the benefits of meditation and we wanted people to benefit from this type of technology.
We offer various types of guided meditations for every aspect of your life, such as wealth, health and relationships. And we also have a kid series, which I’m very excited about, because I’m passionate about finding different ways for kids to feel healthier. My own kids had anxiety issues and so meditations help with self-esteem and relaxation at night.
WHAT TOP ADVICE WOULD YOU SHARE WITH MOMS WHO ARE STRUGGLING WITH GETTING HEALTHY AND/OR FEELING GOOD ABOUT HER BODY AND HERSELF?
My best advice is to just start. Just to do one thing. It could be no soda this week. Sometimes starting an entire health regimen can be so overwhelming. I know about that because I’ve been there. However, a little bit of progress is better than no progress. Set short time goals.
You can start small and as you start to see some results, it’s going to change the way you feel. You’re going to like it and continue doing it. Many of us just tend to dive in where we have to do something perfect or nothing at all. I always tell my clients that if they mess up, like eat something
they weren’t supposed to or didn’t do that workout, to start over right then instead of waiting to start again on the next Monday or tomorrow.
People say everyday is a new day, but my philosophy is it’s a new hour. You always have the new time in front of you to shift, forgive yourself and get back on track.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO A MOM WHO JUST HAD HER FIRST BABY AND IS STRUGGLING WITH HER BODY IMAGE?
I would say to be patient with yourself, but do something. You can start slow and know that your skin will return somewhat normal. You’re always going to have some scars or marks from pregnancy, which I call badges of honor. Your body is just different after having a baby.
My new program is based on what happens after you have babies. Your fat cells multiply and your hormones shift. So, you’re more apt to store fat. Some moms lose weight when they are nursing, but they also need to be more careful when they stop nursing.
There’s a way around it where you’re not starving all the time and you don’t need to work out for 2 hours a day. You can have a lean body after your baby.
Be patient and love yourself. Be proud of the accomplishment you did with having your child. Enjoy that time.
WHAT DO YOU DO TO LIVE A MORE BALANCED LIFE?
There are a couple of things to avoid entrepreneurial meltdown or Mommy meltdown. Make sure you set boundaries for yourself. So often we just let everything happen.
Some of my boundaries are no technology or electronics on Sundays. We’ll spend time reading together, go on hikes or go to the Farmer’s Market. I admit that it’s hard for me to go without technology, but I learned the hard way.
My other is that I refuse to miss my workouts. Maybe I’m strapped to the computer all day, but I’ll take breaks every hour and do 50 squats or 25 push-ups. I have to fit it in my daily life.
Also, I make sure I’m present when I have dinner with my family and to tuck my daughters in bed at night. These are things I refuse to compromise on no matter how busy I am or what’s going on in my life.
SHARE SOMETHING DIFFERENT OR UNIQUE ABOUT YOU THAT MAY SURPRISE PEOPLE WHO KNOW YOU.
When you’re in a health business, people always think that you don’t have moments where you don’t eat well, but pizza is my huge weakness.
My weight fluctuates too. I don’t let it get out of control, but there are times where I just let my hair down. I don’t always look as perfect as I do on my website.
by Jamie Leff
I am loving Michael Pollan’s book, Food Rules – an Eater’s Manual! If you have not read it, I cannot recommend it enough. He is a man after my own heart – searching for ways to make nutrition simple. He tells it like it is, and weeds through all of the bologna.
In case you haven’t heard of the Happy Meal Experiment, I have done it. I have a Happy Meal that I bought back in October 2009. That means it is coming up on it’s 4th birthday! The thing looks just like this picture (which happens to be of a fresh one). Nothing has grown on it, the meat did not rot, the bread did not mold… there is something really wrong with that! Your food should not out-live you! In fact, I had to place it in a box because the bag it came in deteriorated thanks to the oil.
Why do I bring this to your attention? Because even well meaning moms can sometimes be a slave to fast food, drive-thrus and things in little packages that have a shelf life older than some of their children.
School is back in session, which for many of you means packing lunches quickly to get out the door on time, grabbing a quick lunch for yourself in the middle of the day in between mommy duties, or driving through the closest place you can find between school and soccer practice. More often than not, health takes a back seat to convenience. Do not let yourself get caught in the trap!
Here are some tips to help you get quick and easy meals, without having to sacrifice your health:
Burger Places: Most places now offer salads, grilled chicken sandwiches and turkey burgers. If you absolutely must get a burger, get a regular hamburger. Instead of french fries, opt for a side salad, yogurt or fruit.
Sandwich shops: Avoid mayo or items made with mayo such as tuna or chicken salad. Order your sandwich on wheat bread vs. white bread and ask for extra vegetables. Again, most places now offer fruit or yogurt in their value meals instead of chips.
Mexican Food: Avoid items that are fried or contain nacho cheese sauce, sour cream or the word “Supreme” in the title. Ask them to hold the cheese and add extra salsa.
At any restaurant, always order water or unsweetened Ice Tea vs. soda.
Starbucks: Instead of grabbing a scone or bagel, which can have around 700 calories, opt for the “protein plate,” which has a hardboiled egg, a whole wheat roll with Almond Butter, some grapes, and a few pieces of white cheddar cheese. Another option would be the oatmeal or the egg, spinach and feta wrap. Pass on the blended frozen drinks or flavored lattes and get a coffee with creamer instead. Bring your own Stevia packets from home if you need a little sweetness.
Another option is to keep snacks in your car or pack a cooler the night before with things you can grab in a hurry. This is an easy way to make sure you are getting adequate nutrition from whole foods throughout the day, without having to worry about where your next meal is coming from.
These snack ideas are great for kids too!
Fruit: I’ve said this before… wash fruit the minute you unpack it from the grocery bag. The faster you can grab it in the morning, the more likely you will do it. Another option is fruit cups with fruit that is packed in water vs. syrup.
A final option … organic baby food! Hear me out… have you seen those pouches where your kids can just squeeze and suck the fruit right out? For the ones I’m talking about, if you look at the ingredients, it should just say organic fruit and vegetables. True story, I was waiting in line at Babies R Us to purchase a baby gift for a friend. I was starving and happened to look over and they had about 10 different flavors of this organic baby food in those easy squeeze pouches! I picked up the
sweet potato pumpkin and sure enough, the only ingredients were organic sweet potato and organic pumpkin.
Let me tell you, it was delicious and totally held me over until I got home!
Nuts: You can now get pre-portioned packs of nuts, or just buy snack baggies and make them yourself. Nuts are a great thing to keep in your car or purse for those emergency
situations when hunger strikes and the only thing for miles is a Taco Bell.
String cheese and Apple
Cut up Vegetables: Try celery with peanut butter or raw sugar snap peas
Peanut Butter and Jelly or Turkey sandwich: Or whatever sandwich you decided to put in your child’s lunch that day. When you are packing their lunches, make an extra one for yourself!
All it takes is a little prep work and a conscious thought to make healthier choices when you are out and about, but it is possible to get fresh and healthy foods on the go. Don’t get stuck eating something that goes against nature!
I discovered the best thing I can do for my family is spend some part of each day focused exclusively on me, serving my life’s purpose. Before I was clear about what my purpose was, I spent time focused on discovering it on a daily basis.
I know, at first this sounds counter intuitive. However, consider this list of benefits for your family.
Living your purpose:
1. Gives you energy
2. Has the naturally occurring by-product of inner peace
3. Sets a great example for your family
So, if you are not yet clear about your purpose, I suggest you immediately embark on a journey to find it.
I believe there are two major components to every person’s purpose.
The first is that it is creative. A word of caution here, I have found that somewhere in the identity forming process many people have rejected the idea that they are creative in any way. I want to be clear. I am not only talking about what would be traditionally referred to as the arts, music, drawing, painting, dancing, photography or even arts and crafts. Perhaps you are really good at creating relationships, beautiful spaces, organized living areas, balanced accounting, fun social experiences, cooking, writing cool stuff, or systems that make businesses run more smoothly. All that matters in being creative is that something new exists because of your focused time, effort and energy.
Still having trouble? Think about your life before kids and family. What did you do with your free time? Is there an activity that made you lose time? You know what I mean. You thought you had been working on something for about 30 minutes and suddenly you realized 5 hours had passed. I call that your God work. I believe that when you lose time while engaged in something creative, you are fulfilling your purpose.
The second aspect of identifying your purpose involves “the who.”
No, I am not talking about the band or the creatures from Whoville. Here is the thing. I have yet to meet anyone who has discovered that their purpose is selfserving. Every conversation I have had with someone who is either searching for their life’s purpose or believes they have discovered it, shares that their purpose involves serving others in some way. Although there is great personal benefit for the person serving his or her life’s purpose, the original intent is always about serving someone else.
There are many spiritual teachers who suggest that young children are more connected to spirit than adults. They say that as we grow to adulthood, we lose that connection. Try this – Is there someone who spent a significant amount of time with you when you were between the ages of 1 and 3? It could be a parent, someone else who raised you, or even an older sibling. Ask them what you liked to play when given time to indulge your imagination. If no one is available to ask, do your best to remember. That information will give you some clue about what your purpose might be. By the way, I have been a teacher since I was 3.
I get tired of hearing all the advice (probably really somebody trying to sell me something) that in just X number of minutes each day I can change my whole life and all my fantasies will come true.
So what I offer here are merely suggestions. Committing to one or many of these daily practices will put you well on your way to discovering your life’s purpose. Do what works for you and ditch what doesn’t.
1. Open yourself to new ideas – read, read, then read some more. You will be amazed at the difference in your life if you read just 10 pages, or for 10 minutes a day of a really good book. If you are not a reader – listen. You can get books in audio format, and listen while you are doing something else that doesn’t require your full attention like walking or folding laundry.
2. Spend 30 minutes of focused attention on your kids, husband or partner each day.
3. Create some quiet time in your day to be still. It is worth getting up early, or staying up just a little bit late.
4. Express gratitude as appreciation – you will find what you are looking for. If you spend your day noticing the things that bother you, that is precisely what you will find. The same is true on the flip side. So create a habit of searching for the positive, being grateful and expressing appreciation.
5. Put routines in place for the everyday stuff. Download “Routines to the Rescue” for free at www.connectedtoyourcore.com
6. Honor your intuition.
7. Let go of the busyness – focus your attention on the stuff that really matters.
8. Release the judgments that you have about others, for yourself or the ones you imagine others have about you.
* *A special note about #8 – Who cares what they think? You have no control over their opinion of you anyway. When you try to make everyone happy, no one is, least of all you. I’ll never forget when I realized I was working to make my affect match what I believed others expected of me. It was November of 2010. Earlier in the year, both my husband (in May) and my 12 year old nephew (in September) had passed away. I was getting ready to attend a family gathering, and I caught myself thinking, “I better not laugh too much today, people probably won’t think it is appropriate.” I challenged that thought and deemed it ridiculous. I decided to behave in a way that felt natural and no longer worry about what others may or may not be thinking. The craziest part, everyone was actually relieved to see I was doing okay.