Practicing the PAUSE when you want to eat emotionally…

Are you an emotional eater?

I am, but it’s not always a bad thing.

We all have done it by enjoying birthday cake with excitement on your child’s big day, or eating ice cream on a hot summer day with your family and feeling pure joy, or feeling relaxed and happy drinking wine and eating sushi with your girlfriends. This is emotional eating too, but it’s an acceptable, beautiful and enjoyable part of life, eating, socializing and making memories with the ones you love.

When emotional eating becomes a problem however, is when you are over-eating to numb or stuff down feelings, or you’re stressed, bored or lonely and you feel a huge sense of guilt, shame or sadness after eating. Maybe you put yourself down after eating, thinking negative thoughts and asking yourself, “what is wrong with me” and wake up the next morning, skip breakfast and vow to never eat another carb again – only to end up face first in the snack cabinet later, after restricting all day! Or maybe you didn’t restrict and you still are struggling with emotional eating at night.

If this sound familiar, I feel you! I’ve been there and you’re not alone!

Here are my tips for you when you find yourself wanting to use food to cope with whatever emotion you’re going through:

PAUSE.

As soon as you have an urge to open the fridge and mindlessly eat (when you already ate dinner and are not physically hungry):

Drink a large glass of water or make a hot cup of tea.

And wait 10 minutes.

During this time-out you can focus on your beverage and take a moment to calm your emotions and perhaps choose a different solution to cope with the emotion you are feeling.

Take slow deep breaths for 1 minute straight.

Focus on inhaling through the nose and exhaling out of your mouth. As you inhale think about bringing in positive energy and thoughts and as you exhale you are letting go of any negative thoughts and feelings – maybe stress, maybe sadness, or maybe you realize you are just over-tired.

During this pause you will be able to make a conscious decision.

If you then decide to eat a pint of ice cream, then that’s ok, but at least you made the decision consciously and not in a state of trance, out of boredom, or to numb yourself. In making conscious decisions you can remove all guilt associated with this choice. Because ice cream is delicious and sometimes you just need to treat yourself.

If you realize in this pause that you had a really stressful day and you’re using food to cope as you zone out in front of the TV, but you’re not physically hungry and you know you always end up feeling much worse after – this is where you can break the cycle!

In this moment that YOU have the power to change your behavior!

Take a warm bath when the kids go to bed.

Cozy up with a good book and hot chocolate (I make mine with almond milk, cocoa powder & packet of stevia).

Do a 10-minute meditation and some yoga stretches to release stress.

Exercise! Go for a walk outside or do a quick at-home workout (squats, push-ups and planks do the trick).

You’ll be surprised at how these small time-outs can completely shift your mood and your desire to eat emotionally.

And most importantly, do not beat yourself up about having urges to eat when you’re not physically hungry to deal with stress, pain or loneliness. Nothing is wrong with you. You are human! Just by becoming aware of your behavior, you become stronger. With this awareness you can put in the effort to break the patterns that don’t serve you well in the long run and will allow you to take your power back and create new habits that DO serve you and your well-being.

YOU have the power to change the course of your day, but always be kind to yourself in the process!

Xo Stephanie

Hey Nursing Mamas: Top Foods to Boost Milk Supply

When I’m feeling a little under the whether, I notice a dip in my milk supply.

I’ve done a lot of research and have tried different foods and supplements to see if it’ll have an impact.

Below are a few top foods listed that I incorporated into my diet to potentially help boost supply:

Fenugreek: I never took the supplement, but I did drink Mother’s Milk tea three times a day for about a month and didn’t see much of a difference.

Green leafy vegetables: Spinach is my fav! Great source of calcium, iron and folate.

Garlic: Said to boost the immune system.

Sesame seeds: A non-dairy source of calcium.

Oatmeal: Rich in fiber and recommended by nutritionists to boost milk supply. Usually after eating oats for breakfast, I get an ounce extra in my second pump of the day (this could be due to it being mid-morning, when supply is higher, but I still love my oats either way!)

Brown rice: It is known to stimulate hormones responsible for milk production.

Salmon: Rich in fatty acids. Omega-3 helps lactation boosting hormones to help produce more milk.

Green tea: For antioxidants. I drink two cups per day, especially during flu season.

Almonds: Called a “superfood”, high in vitamin E and omega 3s. I keep almonds by my bed side and eat a large handful before bed or if needed while nursing in the middle of the night.

Water: Hydrating properly is essential (I’ve been sucking at this lately, but working on it!)

Other foods on the list of top foods that I eat often: Carrots, asparagus, sweet potato, beets, flax seeds and lentils.

I’ve also tried a bunch of different Legendairy Milk supplements on and off (Pump Princess, Milkapalooza, Liquid Gold and Lactivist) and will sometimes see a slight increase in ounces pumped, but it’s very inconsistent. Lactivist did seem to make my milk a bit fattier, but tastes horrible!

I also bought brewers yeast to make lactation cookies, so stay tuned for recipe and a review!

Does anyone else have additional recommendations not listed? Comment below!

For more recommendations, tips, and support, join my tribe – a free supportive community of Mamas ready to commit to their health, fitness & life goals! I post daily workouts you can do at home, recipes, meal prep ideas and more!

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Xo Stephanie

‘What I Eat in a Day’ as a Breastfeeding Mom

What I eat in a day as a breastfeeding Mom…

I was on my spin bike recently and to pass the time I began watching “What I eat in a day” YouTube videos from breastfeeding Moms. I was really surprised by the lack of knowledge, comments made and more importantly lack of FOOD. I am not going to place judgement on anyone, because everyone is entitled to their own opinion and follow a meal plan that works for them, but what bothers me is that these influencers may encourage other Mom’s who are looking for help or guidance during this really fragile time, to follow suit. Like cutting out fruit completely, because it’s “too high in sugar” or not eating carbs after 5:00 p.m.!! WHAT?!!! I think I would die.

If you’re a breastfeeding Mom like me then you probably have gotten the hungry horrors at 1:00 a.m. while you’re up nursing your little one. That’s exactly why I have a stash of snacks in my nightstand drawer and that stash has been a lifesaver for me more times than I can count. Even if you’re not breastfeeding, but you’re caring for a baby or chasing around a toddler, it’s important to keep yourself nourished and fueled for the day.

It’s ok to watch videos or read blogs to get meal ideas from others, especially if they’re promoting better health, but what’s most important is listening to your body and what it needs right now. Dieting, restricting calories or cutting out food groups is not what you need right now, as a breastfeeding Mom. You need extra calories (300-500), lots of nutrients, extra snacks, and more water. You shouldn’t have to worry about tracking every calorie, but if it helps that’s ok, as long as you’re fueling your body right. I will admit, I have tracked my food intake a few times recently to make sure I am eating enough!

I love sharing my meal ideas with others to educate and inspire and I love following others who do the same, but don’t get trapped into thinking you should be dieting because it’s the only way you’ll lose the baby weight FAST.

Trust me when I say, slow and steady wins the race! It’s more sustainable and you’ll be able to put your focus on your growing babe during this precious time!

Here is a sample of what I eat in a day:

Oatmeal with flax seeds + fruit to start my day (helps with lactation!)

Two salads a day loaded with greens and topped with avocado!

Lean proteins like chicken, salmon for healthy omega 3s, hard boiled eggs and legumes.

My go to carb sources are sweet potatoes, whole grain crackers, Ezekiel toast, oats and brown rice and I include one of these with every meal.

Snacks throughout the day include berries, nuts like almonds and cashews, hard boiled eggs, cottage cheese, protein muffins and organic low sugar protein bars when I’m on the go.

Snacks, snack and more snacks right before bed to prevent me from getting the hungry horrors at night!

Lots of water, 1 decaf coffee in the morning, and decaf green tea throughout the day.

I eat 6 or 7 times a day. YES 7!!!

My top three favorite meals to make are veggie omelets, taco salads and homemade soups! {Comment below with your favorite healthy meal ideas!}

I eat when I’m hungry and stop when I’m full. I treat myself with ice cream and peanut butter when I want it and never feel guilty! I’ve been able to return to my pre-pregnancy weight without restricting and you can too!

For more meal ideas, support and motivation, join my tribe!

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Xo Stephanie

A letter to my Daughter on the last day of Maternity Leave…

For the past 16 weeks I have been blessed with being able to be with you 24/7, have nurtured you, kissed you, cuddled you, nursed you, cried with you, laughed with you, watched you grow right before my eyes and together we’ve created an irreplaceable bond. Today I have an overwhelming feeling of sadness, anxiety, and guilt. I don’t know why this is so hard. Maybe because I struggled to have you and now that you’re here, I never want to leave your side. Although I know you’ll be in good hands, you might not want to take a bottle, you might be extra fussy without me to soothe you, you might want me to cuddle you when you’re sleepy, and you might wonder why I’m not there. I hope you know I would give anything to stay home with you forever, but I have to go to work so that I can give you everything you need to be healthy, safe and happy. A home to live in, food to eat, books to read and trips to explore. I want you to know that I will be thinking of you every second, will be missing how you laugh at me like I’m the funniest person in the world, and how you light up when you see me walk into the room. I want you to know I will never take you for granted and the time we do have will be quality and much more meaningful. All of the sleepless nights and overwhelming days when you wouldn’t let me put you down to pee, take a shower or eat have all been messy, but beautiful because at the end of the day you’d look at me with so much love in those big brown eyes and it all was OK. You are the light of my life and I want you to know we’ll get through this together. When I walk in the door at the end of each day, I promise nothing will matter other than the fact that we’re together again.

Mommy loves you so much my sweet Daisy.

Why losing weight is not one of my resolutions…

“Stop glorifying weight loss like it’s the most impressive thing a human can do.” -Unknown

I read this quote recently and it came to mind as I sat with a pen and paper writing down my goals for 2019.

For the past 20 years of my life my New Year’s resolution revolved around diets and losing weight.

This year some of my goals are health related, but focused on abundance, fulfillment, happiness and growth. I set a fitness goal to increase my strength by staying committed to a lifting routine, but unlike years past, my focus is not on my appearance, but about what it will help me do and accomplish.

Staying committed to a fitness routine will make me feel better, give me some “mama time” (necessary for sanity), and help me be a better Mom, because when I start my day with a workout I’m always much more energized, productive and happy – not to mention, building strength is a necessity for carrying around my growing girl!

So if your resolutions are health related, think about the benefits and what positives they will add to your life, instead of a specific number on the scale or jean size, which doesn’t hold any real value.

Are you drinking more water and going to bed earlier so you have more energy to chase around your toddler?

Are you eating more filling balanced meals throughout the day so you’re no longer binge eating at night and can wake up energized ready to tackle the day, instead of lethargic, guilty and sad?

Think about what other non-health related resolutions that are important to you, like following a passion that you might have been scared to pursue. Trying a new hobby that will allow you tap into your creativity or connect with a friend. Committing to a meditation practice for 10 minutes per day that will allow you to be present and connect with your innermost desires.

These type of resolutions are ones worth celebrating! Because a certain number on the scale won’t bring you more joy, happiness, or love – whatever it is you TRULY desire within.

Wishing you much health and joy this new year!

XO Stephanie

What’s On the Other Side of Binge-Eating

I was inspired to write this post after going out to dinner to enjoy my favorite indulgent food that I haven’t had in over a year and a half… Sushi!

I say “indulgent” because I used to only eat Sushi on occasion as a special or “cheat” meal and when I did I would save all of my carbs for the day in anticipation for a little feast. I would also make sure to get in a really good workout beforehand knowing I would be consuming some extra calories.

Sushi to me was the ultimate treat and when I ate it I felt incredible satisfaction. Any one who has ever competed in a fitness competition or has dieted for any period of time may relate. It’s like the first bite of something sweet or a post-show treat meal where you literally close your eyes and feel a rush of satisfaction when you savor the incredible flavor of a food. When you diet intensely for so long and then eat something you’ve restricted, particularly carbs, sugar or high fat foods, the pleasure is like none other and I imagine it being like a drug addict getting their fix.

So, after going out for Sushi just recently, to my surprise, I did not enjoy it as much as I used to. I had cut out sushi when I got pregnant and it was a food I could not wait to get my hands on post partum. I ate it guilt-free, enjoyed as much as I wanted until I was full, ate carbs throughout the day beforehand and actually didn’t even workout. To me, it was just another food. I didn’t get a feeling of intense satisfaction like I once received from eating it and I actually said to my husband, “egh it wasn’t anything special”. 

In that moment I realized just how far I have come.

It wasn’t anything special because I no longer diet.

I am mindful about making healthier choices, but eat a variety of foods and trust myself to indulge when I want to and move on. There are no rules and there is no guilt. If I want to eat ice cream, but didn’t workout that day, it’s okay.

It felt more satisfying realizing how much I have grown, overcoming my destructive behaviors, than from the actual Sushi. It felt SO amazing and so freeing!

This is what it feels like to be on the other side of binge eating, a place I never thought I’d be….

Me during the Binge-Restrict cycle:

  • Obsessed, restricting, controlling, perfection, compulsion, anxiety, sadness, guilt, shame, depression, isolation, fear, worry, low energy, insomnia, migraines, adrenal fatigue, hormonal imbalance, infertility, hopelessness. 

Me now, living Binge-Free:

  • Happy, free, joyful, abundant, intuitive, worthy, healthy, energetic, motivated, creative, spiritually connected, blissful, vibrant, excited, peaceful and calm.

Although I have my moments of weakness at times where I have these little voices in my head creep in telling me to restrict a little or exercise more, I am at a much position to be able to dismiss these voices and continue living from an intuitive place.

It feels really damn good.

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Why NOT Having a Plan is Best…

I have always followed a rigid schedule and needed some type of structure or plan. I hate surprises and have a fear of the unknown. But these past couple months have taught me that not having a plan is actually better!

Here’s why:

Without a plan, there are no expectations. If you have expectations on how something will go and it doesn’t turn out the way you wanted, you may end up disappointed or feel like a failure.

Throughout my whole pregnancy I compared it to my first and ended up being a bit upset and anxious when I went into labor 3 weeks later than expected. As I saw my due date come and go, I had to surrender to the fact that my pregnancy and my birth was it’s own and will be much different than my first. You simply cannot “plan” a birth and must be prepared for the unexpected.

Now, as I embark on my postpartum journey, 6 weeks in, I have dropped all expectations on how my body should look and trying to rush back to the gym. Sure, I would love to have a consistent exercise routine, but even if I try to plan it, something always seems to change. I’ve attempted to workout at home numerous times and it always seems to get interrupted by my daughter waking up 5 minute in, wanting to be held or nursed and when she’s done or falls back asleep, I’m usually hungry again! So I decide to eat and hold off my workout until later. But there is not always a “later”. I am aiming to get into a consistent routine, but I accept that it’s going to have to be more sporadic, because the demands of a newborn are never consistent. So, I am just going to get in small increments of exercise when I can. In time I know it’ll get easier. Without the pressure of a “plan”, I won’t end up feeling guilty or disappointed if exercise doesn’t happen that day.

In regards to food, I am using my hunger and fullness cues and listening VERY closely to my body on when to eat, how much to eat and what to eat, which sometimes is a protein bar or 3 handfuls of nuts to hold me over in the middle of the night when my daughter is up cluster feeding and I’m absolutely starving. I’ve added in 500 or so extra calories to what I would normally eat to make sure I’m getting enough nutrients, keeping my energy and milk supply up. There’s days I am still starving and need more than this. In the past I would ignore my hunger cues if it wasn’t part of my diet plan, but now I just use this as a ball park and listen to my body without relying on numbers or tracking meticulously. Ahhh the freedom in that…

And finally, I’ve learned to be okay with not being on time for everything, since I’m usually always early for things like appointments, watching my Son’s sporting events, and social gatherings, because I now have to work around the schedule of my newborn, not anyone else’s and most certainly not mine.

Letting go of structure, rules, plans and any type of schedule allows me to ease anxiety surrounding the need for perfection. My new normal is a bit chaotic, unplanned, go-with-the-flow and a take it one day at a time type of routine and I’m actually okay with it.

I am learning to be open to the twists and turns of life, living more in flow and enjoying each moment, in the moment, as is comes.

XO Stephanie

The Biggest Lessons Pregnancy Has Taught Me About My Body

My beautiful Daughter Daisy Marie was born on September 10, 2018 weighing in at 9lb 9.8oz and 21.25 inches long.

I am in awe at what my body was capable of delivering a bigger than average baby and how fast my body is healing, sleep deprived and all!

Surprisingly, I have no desire to jump back into exercise or follow any type of diet to get my body back to where it was. In fact I welcome the rest and am trying to eat more (than ever) to keep my milk supply up.

Although I don’t have much weight to lose, my clothes don’t fit like they used to and my postpartum body has a lot less muscle mass. Although I was active throughout my pregnancy which helped, I do look forward to building my strength back up, resume my hot yoga classes, and maybe even start running again. But, I am in no rush to begin.

Prior to fertility treatments and getting pregnant, I lived and breathed fitness, lifting weights, and eating clean. I had a rigid schedule and high body standards. I am so proud that my mindset and priorities have shifted and I have this challenging journey to thank.

This pregnancy saved me.

Instead of rushing to get back into pre-baby shape, I am slowing down and cherishing every moment with my daughter.

The gym will always be there, but my daughter won’t be this little forever. My health is still a huge prioroty during this time though, so I’m focusing on drinking a ton of water, doing easy pelvic floor exercises, stretching, and eating a lot of whole nourishing foods (incredibly important for breastfeeding).

Pregnancy has taught me:

  • I can trust my body, my body is resilient and my body knows best.
  • Always follow and listen to your intuition in regards to how you move your body and how to fuel it.
  • Move a lot, but rest more.
  • Your mindset affects your mood and decisions. So focus on the positive!
  • NOT having a plan is actually better.

I am so proud of my body and am embracing where I am in this moment, without focusing on where I want to be, because this time is so very precious and I dont want to miss out on any of it. 

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XO Stephanie

40 Weeks Pregnant: How to Ease Anxiety

As an anxious person, I always want to have a plan in place, which makes me feel safe. I worry too much about the future and analyze every possible outcome, sometimes losing sleep.

I’ve become much better at managing my anxiety and in fact, have felt really content, worry-free and at peace this Spring and Summer… until this past week.

The truest test of patience is being 40 weeks pregnant (today is my due date) and having no idea when labor will begin, what my birth will be like, and having no solid plan in place. Because well, you can never plan for natural child birth.

I honestly didn’t think I’d make it this far in my pregnancy after having my Son at 38 weeks. I was convinced I’d go early this time too, but as the days go on I realize that this is a different pregnancy, a new experience and another true test of surrender, trust and patience.

Everything I feel and experience is part of the great lesson of motherhood.

I am very anxious, find myself having moments of sadness and negativity, after months of feeling really happy and positive. I am googling every labor symptom, reading birth blogs, and trying to find a glimpse of hope that maybe today I’ll go into labor, because I can relate to someone else’s story and timeline.

But this is MY story and unique pregnancy. It won’t happen the way it happened before or like it happened for any one else.

So how do I ease this anxious feeling?

I surrender.

I breathe (deeply)…a lot.

I listen to positive affirmations for pregnancy and birth.

I sit outside in nature staring at the trees, because these simple moments of stillness remind me that life is a gift and I am extremely blessed.

I enjoy the company of my husband and let him pamper me with extra attention, massage, and kind gestures (because soon it’ll be too chaotic to take advantage of this).

I read the unfinished books I have lying around.

I take time to cook delicious meals.

I write.

This pregnancy has taught me many great lessons which I can take with me and relate to every day life. No matter the circumstance, when anxiety arises…

Surrender.

Trust.

Ask yourself, what lesson is there to be learned from this experience?

XO Peace & Love, Stephanie

Focusing on Your Body to Fill a Void: How to Break the Cycle

I have found that obsessive focus on food and my body seemed to always occur to fill a void when something was missing in my life.

Looking back at my disordered eating patterns, I realized every time I would go through a breakup, I would start dieting and plan my next fitness goal. Focusing on my body and controlling every calorie consumed and burned, was my way of avoiding the feelings of pain, discomfort, change and the unknown. I put on a mask and wore it well.

It’s no surprise that most of the time after training hard for a fitness competition or goal, I would spiral out of control mentally and emotionally, finding myself more depressed than ever. And it seemed the only way out of this state was to shift my focus back to the next goal, which always had something to do with food and my physical appearance.

If I was feeling anxious, I would diet harder.

If I was feeling sad, I would exercise more.

So when I made the decision to stop dieting and running my body to the ground and get my health in check (physically and mentally), all of the pent up emotions and feelings I had numbed and avoided came rushing back, which was no surprise.

I felt like I was drowning.

It was hard enough letting go of the dieters mentality and obsessive focus on my body, but I also now was forced to face issues that I avoided for years, head on. Even though there was much resistance, I was determined to break the cycle.

I took it one day at a time and one foot in front of the other. 

I stopped numbing with food and trying to manipulate my body size and began listening to my bodies natural cues. I began practices like intuitive eating, meditation, positive affirmations, kept a gratitude journal and joined a support group. I let go of rigidity and control and allowed my body to change naturally even if that meant weight gain, in order to heal and become healthier.

When I felt lonely I would reach out for support.

When I felt anxious I would do something that brought me peace and calm, like yoga or being in nature.

When I felt sad I would do something creative that brought me joy, like writing or planning a weekend trip to visit my family in New Hampshire.

I stopped running.

I stopped numbing.

I stopped escaping.

I began speaking my truth.

Speaking my truth and showing vulnerability by sharing my story, encouraged others to do the same and I’ve been able to reach and help other people who’ve been wearing masks too. The more vulnerable I became, the more empowered I felt.

Although I will always have a love for fitness and whole nutrition, it doesn’t consume my life. I eat ice cream without guilt, I skip the gym to walk outside on a beautiful day, and I FEEL my feelings; the good, the bad and the in-between.

I am open, I am honest, and I am living authentically.

I no longer need to focus on my body to feel a sense of purpose or need a mask to cover up my truth.

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XO Peace & love, Stephanie