This Pelvic Floor Therapist Has A Must-Read Message For Folks With Vaginas

Look, I don’t think anyone is that excited about going to the doctor, spreading their legs, and getting a pelvic exam. Sharing that part of yourself with a virtual stranger is not supposed to be fun or even that comfortable. For folks who have a history of sexual abuse, assault, or other trauma, it can be downright triggering, even when working with a compassionate healthcare provider.

Yet one pelvic floor specialist is urging us all to stop doing one specific thing when we are spread eagle on the examining table: apologizing.

That’s right, we need to stop apologizing for the state of our vulvas and vaginas, according to Kristin Phillips, a pelvic floor physiotherapist from West Virginia.

All vulvas look different and are unique. There is not one perfect or normal type. And by God, there is no reason to apologize for the smell of your nether region, or whether or not you have recently shaved. All vaginas are gorgeous and it’s time we started celebrating them, Phillips proclaims.

Oh my goodness, I could not love this woman’s message more.

Phillips posted her thoughts on Facebook in May, along with a picture of the many varied and beautiful ways vaginas sometimes look – and her post went totally viral.

Phillips starts by talking about her own experience working with women in her physical therapy practice, where she treats everything from urinary incontinence to sexual dysfunction.

“As a pelvic floor and women’s health PT, I see a lot of external genitalia in a day,” writes Phillips. “I’m heartbroken by the number of times I hear people with vaginas say, ‘I’m sorry I didn’t shave’ or otherwise apologize for how their vulvovaginal region looks or smells. I want to scream.”

It’s not that Phillips doesn’t understand why so many women feel this way. “Everywhere you turn, there is advertising for body hair removal or a cream, supplement, or douche that will make your vagina smell like a midnight moon or fairy sprinkles,” she notes.

In addition, as she points out, there is a major double-standard here, because folks born with penises sure as heck don’t go around apologizing for their hairy balls and sweaty scrotums. “Ain’t that some shit,” Phillips remarks.

Yes, it sure as shit is.

Phillips truly pulls no punches here, and brings up the fact that all of this boils right down to patriarchal views of women, their bodies, their roles in society, and everything else.

“You will never convince me that this isn’t the patriarchy at play, keeping us down,” Phillips writes. “Because if we are trapped in the bathroom or salons making our vulvas hairless and smelling like raspberries, we can’t be out in the world and dismantling the institutions that make us believe our bodies aren’t already perfect.”

I seriously want to give this woman a medal – preferable one shaped like a lovely, juicy, flapping, unshaven vulva. I mean, how perfect would that be?

Speaking with Scary Mommy, Phillips says she was pretty taken aback by the huge response she got when she initially shared the post on Facebook. She didn’t expect it to touch so many people. But she soon realized how positive it was, because of the conversation it started, and the awareness it raised.

Even the negative comments were meaningful to Phillips. “The negative responses started to fuel my fire,” she tells Scary Mommy. “I realized that if this message could reach even just one person struggling with their body image, it was worth it. My hope is that everyone with a vulva can learn to love themselves and all of their parts and to stop apologizing for it.”

Of course, even with all the assurance that your vulvovaginal region (which is a new, very helpful phrase I learned from Phillips) is totally normal despite the smell, shape, and everything else, it’s still not always easy to embrace the whole thing. The idea that our vulvas and vaginas are dirty, ugly, and unsightly is so deeply ingrained in our psyches and it can be difficult to feel any other way about it.

Regardless of how you feel, Phillips is just urging you to perform the simple exercise of refraining from apologizing for it – at the doctor’s office, on the delivery table, or anywhere your luscious hot box might be on sight and in full view.

“Vaginas are supposed to smell like vaginas, not rainbows and unicorns and hair grows on the vulva naturally,” Phillips reminds in her post. “And you should never EVER feel like you have to apologize for your body. EVER. I’m here to tell you that your vulva and vagina are perfect just the way they are.”

I swear, Phillips is like a motivational speak for card-carrying vagina holders everywhere.

All of that being said, Phillips does not think any of this means we shouldn’t groom our vaginas as we see fit. The fact is that very few of us want to go au natural when it comes to our downstairs. And that’s totally fine, too, as long as the goal isn’t to demean yourself in the process.

“If you like a hairless vulva, you do you, boo,” says Phillips. “But do it for you and know that you’re a goddess either way.”

Phillips also notes that not all vaginal smells are positive, as sometimes foul odors indicate health problems like STDs or other infections. “If you notice a change in your vaginal odor, get it checked by a competent and understanding gynecologist or midwife,” says Phillips.

But the main point is that Phillips is encouraging us all to start thinking of our vulvas and vaginas as normal, healthy, special, and a testament to the goddesses we all are. “Your worth lies in your heart and soul, not in the appearance of your vulva,” she declares at the end of her post.

AMEN.

I understand that getting to the place of embracing your vagina in all its misshapen, fragrant glory is definitely a process for some of us, especially if those of us who’ve had a difficult sexual history. But I think it’s all about baby steps, and certainly seeking out gentle and compassionate healthcare providers like Phillips to help us get there.

But it is possible to fall in love with your vagina, to accept it for what it is. And learning to stop apologizing for your perfectly imperfect vagina is an awesome first step.

The post This Pelvic Floor Therapist Has A Must-Read Message For Folks With Vaginas appeared first on Scary Mommy.

This Is The Problem With Pregnancy Food Rules

Since becoming pregnant, most days I lack the mental and physical strength to get out of bed. I’m nauseous all the time. To make matters worse, from the moment I wake up, I have intense hunger pains. They aren’t gradual or patient, and they trigger angst about the days’ meals.

For about a month, the stress of what to eat during the day has been enough to keep me up at night. Too much food and I feel like it’s all coming up. Too little and I will be hungry again in 45 minutes. I don’t know my stomach anymore.

All of this is exacerbated by pressure to eat as clean and healthfully as possible when pregnant. Of course, as a pregnant woman, I believe that I should eat foods that nourish my body as best as possible. But what happens when the pressure to eat right stops you from eating at all? Have we ever considered that the way we have moralized our diet shames and terrifies mothers-to-be so much that they literally can’t stomach the consequences and opt out of eating?

With my first pregnancy, I didn’t have any health complications, but my doctor was concerned about my rapid weight gain. Those conversations about “watching my weight” and limiting my portions stuck with me and led to a really complicated relationship with food.

Donyae Coles, a healing justice writer and yoga teacher for her studio, Fat Witch Yoga had a similar experience. “When I was pregnant with my last child I had gestational diabetes and realized that what was out there for helping to manage that wasn’t great. Suddenly there was this idea that nearly everything I could eat was ‘bad’ and I was really miserable. I know for me the stress and hormones of the pregnancy made just planning meals an extremely charged and unpleasant task,” she explained.

As a result, she made the choice to stop giving food so much control over her life.

“I decided to stop moralizing food in 2012, before my last pregnancy. I realized I was constantly thinking along ‘good’ and ‘bad’ terms and it was making me very unhappy. I adopted HAES (Health at Every Size) philosophy and started changing my life to have a more healthy relationship with food,” she said.

Although I didn’t have gestational diabetes, many women do, and the messages they receive can cause long-term consequences. The panic surrounding such restrictive eating can lead to anxiety and depression.

“I think that even though my situation had a medical component, the entire concept of moralizing food just adds another layer to the stress of pregnancy and pushes women into thought processes that don’t promote their health,” said Coles.

As Coles describes, the pressure to eat an assortment of brightly colored healthy foods has limited me. That stress is intensified when it’s hard to keep most things down. I believe, like non-pregnant people, we should be flexible enough to eat mindfully, but understand there will be times that we must stray from our original plan. Growing a person is hard enough without battling rigid messages about “bad” food and “good” food.

“I mean obviously, don’t eat gas station sushi but people should feel more empowered to trust their bodies and listen to their needs rather than be pushed into ideas of ‘this is good, this is bad,'” she explained.

I’m working to getting into a similar mental space. I won’t punish myself for having a sandwich and some chips if it’s the only thing my stomach accepts. There will probably be even more days when I survive on applesauce, ginger ale, and mandarin oranges. At this point in my life, however, finding the strength to eat anything at all is an accomplishment — and right now, that’s good enough.

The post This Is The Problem With Pregnancy Food Rules appeared first on Scary Mommy.

Stressed? Science Says Smell THIS!

Mamas—raise your hand if you’ve found yourself stressed out in the last week? Day? Hour?

Ha! Ladies, I know my audience, and I’m thinking pretty much every hand is up right now. (If not, I’d love to know your secret. Let’s talk. Like, really.)

Well, for starters, know that if you’re feeling the stress, you’re not alone. And secondly, you’ll be happy to know that the antidote no longer requires a trip to the rose garden…though that probably wouldn’t hurt.

A recent study published by the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology reports that a woman’s stress level can drop when she takes a whiff of her romantic partner’s t-shirt.

Researchers studied 96 opposite-sex couples and had the men wear the same t-shirt for 24 hours with no deodorant or scented body products to interfere with their natural scents. The t-shirts were then frozen to preserve the smells, and later presented to the women in a series of experiments. Some women were given the t-shirt of a stranger to smell, others their own romantic partner’s. The women were then given mock job interviews and difficult math problems to solve in order to raise stress levels.

After the “tests” were performed, the women were asked to rate their own stress levels and provide saliva samples in order to measure cortisol (a stress hormone) levels. Unsurprisingly, the women who were provided with the shirts of their partners had lower overall stress levels than those of their counterparts in the study, suggesting that the familiar scent of a loved one can create a sense of safety and calm, even during a stressful situation.

So, the next time you find yourself worrying over that mountain of unwashed laundry, just stop and…well, smell the dirty laundry.

 

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What Is Normal Eating?

At this time of the year when so many people are making goals around food and eating, it’s a good time to be reminded about what constitutes normal eating habits.

The best quote comes from fellow dietitian and author Ellyn Satter, who is known for her Eating Competence Model. She is more concerned about helping you develop eating confidence and competence versus developing uber-healthy eating habits.

In essence, you would do well to learn how to self-moderate and trust yourself to make wise decisions around food than to stick to certain outside rules or guidelines for eating. Her definition of “normal eating” will help explain this concept:

“Normal eating is going to the table hungry and eating until you are satisfied. It is being able to choose food you like and eat it and truly get enough of it — not just stop eating because you think you should. Normal eating is being able to give some thought to your food selection so you get nutritious food, but not being so wary and restrictive that you miss out on enjoyable food. Normal eating is giving yourself permission to eat sometimes because you are happy, sad or bored, or just because it feels good. Normal eating is mostly three meals a day, or four or five, or it can be choosing to munch along the way. It is leaving some cookies on the plate because you know you can have some again tomorrow, or it is eating more now because they taste so wonderful. Normal eating is overeating at times, feeling stuffed and uncomfortable. And it can be undereating at times and wishing you had more. Normal eating is trusting your body to make up for your mistakes in eating. Normal eating takes up some of your time and attention, but keeps its place as only one important area of your life. In short, normal eating is flexible. It varies in response to your hunger, your schedule, your proximity to food and your feelings.”

What this definition does is normalize a wide variety of eating behaviors. Eating should be flexible, variable, satisfying, nourishing and enjoyable. It shouldn’t be obsessive, preoccupying, rigid, overwhelming or worrisome.

If your eating habits currently feel chaotic and haphazard or restrictive and obsessive, this can feel very out of reach. So how do you get there?

Recommendations for normal eating

1. Don’t tell yourself there are certain foods you can’t have. That will only work to increase anxiety around food and will encourage all-or-nothing behaviors. When you know you can have a food anytime you really want it, its power over you decreases. On the other hand, if you know this is the last time you’ll be able to have it (or at least the last time this week or this month, etc.), you’re going to have all of it right now, no matter how uncomfortable it makes you. It’s much easier to behave in a level-headed, sane and wise way around food when you aren’t being micromanaged by rules.

2. We tend to run scared of feeling satisfied because we equate it with overeating. However, satisfaction is our solution. Eat for the intent to feel satisfied. Eating to feel satisfied naturally decreases overeating or under eating because neither of those are satisfying (rather, uncomfortable or painful). Feeling full and satisfied from your meals and snacks is your solution. Not feeling full and satisfied is what leads to problematic behaviors.

3. Normal eating is about being intentional, mindful and aware. Instead of tracking calories or portion sizes, note hunger and fullness levels before and after eating, while paying attention to how the food makes you feel. After a meal or snack are you left feeling satisfied? Energized? Lethargic? Still hungry? Balanced? Get curious about how you feel and function instead of being judgmental about what you look like or weigh. This will help connect you to intuitive signals that will naturally guide eating instead of outside rules or measurements.

4. As mentioned, normal eating includes being mindful. While it’s not realistic that we always eat without distractions, aim to show up to your meals with awareness. You are more likely to know when you are full and satisfied if you are paying attention. Maybe set a goal to do this with one meal or one snack each day.

Becoming a normal eater is possible for everyone. In fact, you aren’t learning something new, you are remembering something you were innately born with. Keep that in mind as you practice — you can trust yourself with food.

 

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5 Things You Need to Know About Cord Blood Before You Deliver Your Baby Sponsored by CBR®

This is a sponsored post on behalf of Cord Blood Registry. 

Never has there been a time in my life when I was as full of questions as I was when I was pregnant. Even on my second go-round, I was still the lady showing up to my doctor’s appointment with a page of scribbled questions.

Pregnancy is such a whirlwind of discovery and planning! Even if this isn’t your first time heading into the delivery room—sure, you’re coming in more informed, probably a lot less nervous, and with a far lighter hospital bag—but there are still so many things to learn and know before you deliver.

Every parent wants a safe delivery and healthy baby, and during both of my pregnancies I was laser-focused on these goals. But I’ve learned that there’s a really AMAZING opportunity right after birth that could make a difference in a family’s future.

Have you heard of CBR®?

Think of it like starting a savings account for your child at birth, only in this case it’s a HEALTH savings account that may potentially benefit someone in your immediate family for future health treatments.

Here are five things you need to know about cord blood banking so you can talk to your doctor and decide if this option is right for your family.

Cord Blood Contains Stem Cells
The umbilical cord, which has nourished your baby for nine months, also contains powerful stem cells. These stem cells can be found in the small amount of blood that is in the umbilical cord after you give birth. By saving and banking that cord blood, you can save those stem cells for potential use in future medical treatments.

Stem Cells Are Superheroes
And newborn stem cells are extra special! These stem cells have the ability to become the different cells of the blood and immune system that one day could potentially act like a person’s own repair kit! Today this type of stem cell is used in transplant medicine in the treatment of over 80 conditions, including leukemia, lymphoma, and some immune disorders.

This is a BIG Moment
The delivery room is a magical time of “firsts” with your baby, and in some cases “onlys.” This is a big moment, and only in the delivery room can your baby’s newborn cord blood be retrieved and saved. There’s no risk or pain for you or your baby. And it can be done for both vaginal and c-section births.

BYOK
BYOK stands for “Bring your own kit.” If you decide that CBR is right for your family, you’ll be packing your cord blood kit in your hospital bag right alongside all of the other carefully chosen items to welcome your little one into the world. You’ll just need to register with CBR beforehand so they can send you a kit. As with any part of your birth plan, you’ll want to talk to your doctor before you arrive in the delivery room so you can discuss the plan together.

You Get Back to Snuggling, CBR Takes Care of the Rest
The folks at the CBR will keep your precious cargo safe, and you’ll stay informed. You’ll be notified when your baby’s stem cells are safe and sound and how to retrieve them in the future if a need arises.

Want to know more? Visit www.cordblood.com to get more details and information about how cord blood and stem cells are being used.

You can enter to win FREE cord blood preservation from CBR HERE.

Dear Anxiety, You Are Paralyzing.

Dear Anxiety,

 

I see you.

 

In the last two years I have gotten to know on a pretty close level. You have come in and out of my life. We are not friends. To be honest, I kind of loathe you, actually. More recently, you have become a daily battle for me. You can take any moment, any situation, and use it to bring some of the greatest panic and fear I have ever experienced. It’s been a tough season for me as a Mother. I am trying hard to be strong, to be brave; to find my value in who I am as Mom. There are times I feel lost in raising tiny humans, but I know I am doing a good job. I know that Motherhood is not having the right answers. It is sometimes simply winging it and not having a clue what you are doing.

However, if I am being entirely honest, the days you sneak up on me I have a pretty hard time seeing just how good of a job I am actually doing, especially when I feel like I should have the right answers. I should know how to handle tantrums. I should have a well behaved children. You are a master at speaking lies to me. You are crippling. You instill fear. You cause me to worry about things that may never even happen. There have been days when I can’t even take my kids to the park because I am afraid they will be kidnapped.

You are paralyzing.

dear anxiety hate you

I first encountered you after the triplets were born. You used sleep deprivation to suffocate me. I had no amount of energy and could never catch up on my sleep. The panic attacks kicked in and swallowed me whole. At the time, it was hard for me to even recognize and admit how difficult things were for me as a new Mom. I wasn’t enjoying the season. I waited for so long to become a Mother and you hijacked my heart with guilt and told me lies about who I was as a Mom. You stole moments I could have shared with my babies. I felt so lonely, so misunderstood.

I hated you then like I hate you know.

Eventually, I saw what was happening to me. My husband, friends and family-they saw it too. And I got the help I needed to learn how to manage you.

And yet, here we are, two years later, and I see you trying to poor the physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion over me once again. You are using the terrible twos to make me question myself as a Mom and if I can even handle this tiring and often thankless job. You use tantrums to suck every piece of patience right out of me. You constantly steal the grace I should have for myself as a Mother and exchange it with panic and guilt. You use Mom-shamers to steal my confidence. You know all the tricks to make me believe untruths about who I am as a Mom.

However, the difference between two years ago and now is, now, I know how to face you a little better than I did before. I know the importance of being vulnerable even when it is hard, even when I don’t want to. I know that I have to talk about the fact that right now, I am having a hard time enjoying this season of Motherhood; and that it is okay. I have to cling to the people I trust most in my life; the ones who don’t judge me when my kids are throwing yogurt across the room during breakfast and enjoying a lollipop before 9am. The ones who still love me even when I lose my temper. The ones who know I am just as mortified when my kid bites theirs. The ones I can share my secrets with and know they are safe there.

dear anxiety

I know when my husband says, “Go to target. Buy a new dress. I will get the kids to bed tonight,” I need to let him because he means it. I see you and so does he. I have been incredibly impressed by the actions he took to ensure we could walk through this season together and find solutions to help me through some pretty tough days. He made the big moves. He was willing to be there for me however I needed, to help me through this strangling season.

I know that I have to be willing to face you even when I am ashamed of the events of the day and how I responded to the whining, biting, fighting, crying, and hitting (And yes, sometimes all of that happens within minutes of each other). Those are the days when my Mom anger kicks in, guilt takes over, and I am entirely ashamed of who I have become and how I have responded. Any kind of grace I could have had for myself is gone. Those are the hardest days. I have learned how important grace is. I don’t know what I am doing. I don’t have all the right answers. I fail every day. And that is okay. That is grace. I have to pray. I have to pray hard and know that God chose me to a be a Mom to my babies because He knew I could handle it.

dear anxiety parenting

I know when it is time to make a Doctor’s appointment and talk about medication to help. To be honest, this step was probably the hardest for me. It is hard to walk into the Doctor’s office and admit that you don’t have it all together. However, I know that sometimes going on medication is just the best way to manage you. There is no shame in that. And this time around, I knew I needed to take those steps to get the help that I needed in order to get through my days a little better.

I am in the trenches of Motherhood trying to hold onto every bit of patience I could possibly have for my kids. My days spent with three pretty active testing your limits two year olds are filled with all kinds of challenges. The days are getting better and you and I aren’t as close as we used to be, but it is still hard. However, the beautiful thing is, is that God always makes beauty out of our ashes. It is seasons like this that change you. They allow to grow and become a stronger, wiser version of yourself. They give you hope and remind you just how great of a Mother you actually are. And that is what I will choose to take away from this incredibly exhausting, yet entirely empowering season of Motherhood.

Sincerely,

The I still don’t always have it together Mom

 

Desiree Fortin is a Mom to almost 2 year old triplets. Her journey to become a Mom was not easy, but it is one of hope and beauty. Desiree is a blogger and photographer.  You can read Desiree’s blog, visit her on Instagram, or visit her Facebook page to learn more.

 

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Money Saving Hacks To Keep Your Family Healthy

This is a sponsored post on behalf of FamilyWize.

Motherhood has helped me hone a few skills in recent years.

I’ve come to realize that a few key concepts have benefitted both me and my kiddos, mightily.

Do your best to stay healthy.

No, you don’t have to douse yourself in antibacterial gel, but rest and nourish your body, head to the doctor when you’re feeling lousy, and be diligent about your medications and supplements.

Simplify your household.

Clear the clutter. Automate what you can. Let the apps and the websites of your favorite businesses do the heavy lifting.

Save money when you can.

More money in your pocket means more flexibility, more fun, and more peace of mind.

Did you know you can do all three of those things with FamilyWize?


What is FamliyWize?

FamilyWize negotiates deep discounts on prescription medications, passing along 100% of those discounts to patients whether they are insured or uninsured and on average, users typically receive a discount of around 40 percent on their prescription medications when using FamilyWize.

There are two simple ways to sign up to receive savings with FamilyWize with no eligibility requirements or fees:

To sign up for the Free Prescription Discount Card, simply go to Familywize.org.
Users can also download the brand new, free mobile app to their phones via the iOS App Store and Google Play.

To receive the savings, just present the card to the pharmacist at pickup at over 60,000 partner pharmacy locations. Easy.

The FamilyWize website and app are also packed with features to help you save time and money.

The Drug Price Lookup Tool allows users to compare the FamilyWize price of their prescription costs between local pharmacies to receive the best possible savings in a designated zip code.

One of FamilyWize’s newest features, Medicine Cabinet, allows users to create a personal profile to store their family’s prescription information in one secure location. Users can save and track their prescription drug searches, bundle prescription by pharmacy to see the total cumulative costs prior to purchasing, edit the dosage, strength, and quantity of their changing prescriptions, and compare pricing between generic and name brand prescriptions.

FamilyWize’s app also offers pill and refill reminders.

Wondering what sort of savings you could be looking at?

Below is a snapshot example of the discounts FamilyWize offers on some of the top prescribed drugs in the U.S. (Prices are subject to change)

Liptor (Atorvastatin Calcium)

  • FamilyWize’s price : $23.24
  • Retail price: $48.45+

Levoxyl, Synthroid, Tirosint (Levothyroxine)

  • FamilyWize’s price: $15.82
  • Retail price: $21 +

Prinivil (Lisinopril)

  • FamilyWize’s price: $10.31
  • Retail price: $20.87+

Lotrel (Amlodipine Besylate-Benazepril)

  • FamilyWize’s price: $26.72
  • Retail price: $68.49+

Zocor (Simvastatin)

  • FamilyWize’s price: $12.49
  • Retail price: $62.73+

Vicodin, Norco, Lorcet (Hydrocodone-Acetaminophen)

  • FamilyWize’s price: $16.11
  • Retail price: $52.78+

EPIPENS: FamilyWize’s lowest current price: $376.25 (retail price $400+)

Those price differences are HUGE!

See what a difference these discounted rates make…

Maryann Small is a breast cancer survivor who turned to FamilyWize to help cut the costs of her prescriptions. At the time that she was diagnosed, Maryann was paying for her two daughters’ college expenses, and was the primary caregiver for her then 88-year-old mother who suffers from dementia. In a two-year period, she underwent six surgeries, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. She was then prescribed an Adjuvant chemotherapy drug that would cost her $1,100 for a 90-day period, even with insurance. When a friend suggested that Maryann use the FamilyWize Prescription Discounts Card to reduce her medication prices, her life changed dramatically. The cost of her prescriptions were reduced by 67 percent. Thanks to FamilyWize, Maryann was able choose both her health, and the well-being of her family.

Think what you could do with the money you save…

Visit FamilyWize.com for more details including stories from other families that have benefitted from these deep discounts.

How To Add Collagen To Your Busy Life

This post is sponsored by Dr. Axe, all the words and opinions are mine. Disclaimer: I’m not a medical professional. I’m not here to diagnose anything. I have a marketing degree, not a medical degree. So we’re just friends swapping stories, okie dokie?

Been hearing more and more about collagen?

This nutritional supplement has been getting a fair amount of attention—at least on my Instagram feed, which is admittedly full of accounts devoted to health, wellness, fitness and paleo nutrition.

I’m not naturally a “health-minded” person. I’m naturally a “donut-minded” person.

But earlier this year my health took what can only be described as a nosedive into a muddy ditch. I was not doing well. My digestive system was a disaster. I felt awful and run down.

A visit to the doctor and host of tests would reveal—a gluten allergy, hypoglycemia, leaky gut, and Hashimoto’s.

I was grateful to have not one, but several reasons for why I was feeling so trashed. But I was also overwhelmed. My doctor recommended that I work with a nutritionist and I was directed to remove grains, sugar, and dairy from my diet.

Done.

I felt great. Except when I worked out, I had ZERO energy.

The mandate came to “eat more protein.”

But can I toss out something here? PROTEIN IS SORT OF A PAIN.

Especially if you’re like me and need to steer clear of whey and soy-based proteins.

I mean, I gave daily bacon a solid try, but I don’t think that’s what my nutritionist was suggesting when she mentioned “more lean protein” and “healthy fats.”

And friends, I’ve tried A LOT of protein powders. I’ve scoured the aisles of regular and natural food stores. I’ve bought powders online. And you bet your sweet tushy that I’ve given them a good solid try, because protein powders are an investment. And some of them taste awful. I’m sorry, but they do.

Now…back to collagen. I was looking for two key things:

  1. A good protein source (that didn’t upset my tummy.)
  2. Anything and everything to help heal a leaky gut.

With those two priorities, collagen kept rising to the top of my “to try” list. But there are more possible benefits to collagen.

Great protein source.

I love Dr. Axe Multi-Collagen as a protein source because I’m able to add it to my regular food. My coffee, soup, or smoothie, without committing to, or altering, the flavor. Think about that. Most protein powders come with a pretty strong taste. Not here.

Helps keep hunger in check.

This was true for me. A scoop of collagen in my coffee mixes right in and I didn’t notice the taste, but I did notice that my morning cup of coffee left me feeling fuller with the added bonus of 7 grams of protein.

Supports a healthy gut.

I wish “leaky gut” had a more legit name. This feels made up. But the symptoms, I can assure you, are very real and, for me, following nutritional protocols intended to repair the gut have helped me mightily in the last few months. Including the use of collagen my diet.

Great for your skin, hair, and nails.

Collagen supports healthy tissues so your joints, skin, hair, and nails can benefit from this critical supplement.

Dr. Axe Multi Collagen Protein comes packaged in several ways that make adding it to your favorite foods super easy—the full-size canister holds 58 servings and the single-serving stick packs are fantastic for traveling or adding to coffee, smoothies, juice, or soup on the go. And for an extra layer of convenience—capsules.

If you’re curious about collagen you can read more about the benefits of Multi Collagen here

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Dr. Axe – Food Is Medicine. The opinions and text are all mine.

 

This Is What My Postpartum Depression Looked Like

I am not a medical professional. I wasn’t even diagnosed with postpartum depression by a medical professional after any of my 4 pregnancies and deliveries. I am, however, a mother who has spent a few years in her body and has recently been enlightened; all it took was paying a little attention to my before and after self.

Once you become pregnant, or even start reading up on pregnancy and delivery, postpartum depression gets thrown in to nearly every conversation. I read about and lots of conversations about it. I even read Brooke Shield’s book “Down Came the Rain”. I felt for her and every other story I heard regarding postpartum depression.  Problem was: I couldn’t relate to any of them. I was having a hard time, but that’s called running on two hours of sleep and being a new mom, right? My entire life had changed–I wasn’t depressed like the stories I had heard or read. I pushed through.

When my first son was a just over a year old we moved to a new city, my husband had a new job, and I had left the workforce as a full-time employee and was simply “Mom” 24 hours a day. I had an infinitely busy child and life wasn’t my favorite. Things were hard. I was angry all the time. I was inexplicably sad just as often. I excused my anger and sadness because life had turned upside down. Of course I was unhappy and struggling to adjust.  The first notion that something may be more serious than just “change” was the afternoon my husband called from work stating he had looked in to our insurance plan and psychologists were covered. Um… thanks, babe? You can go jump off a cliff now. (I guess he had noticed something was off.)

A short time later I became pregnant with my second baby and moved back to the city we were previously in. Life had settled down. I completely forgot about my anger, I cried less and simply laughed about my husband’s well-meaning, but absurd phone call.

This routine continued every 2 years for the next 3 babies.  Waves of emotions, moving, new jobs, change of plans, less sleep, more babies and one hundred more reasons to explain why I was having a hard time–I became an expert at justifying my emotions. If only I had realized what was truly going on.

(From RenoVatio)

My last baby is now seven; if I could go back to the new-mom version of myself, I would shake her and tell her to go to the doctor. Incessant anger and crying is not normal and, more importantly, is not normal for me.  My unknowing fault was chalking up these new emotions (that seem to be sticking around) to the new version of me. Kids change you, they say. Your hormones will be crazy, they say.  So I dealt with it. This had to be the new me.

I’m here to tell you that you should not accept a sad, angry, stressed out version of yourself as the new you. Babies change you, but they don’t (and shouldn’t) ruin your emotional stability (at least in the long term <wink>).

According to the World Health Organization, postpartum depression affects roughly 10 to 15 percent of women in industrialized countries and 20 to 40 percent in developing countries. The American Psychological Association puts that number at 1 in 7 women in the U.S. But hear me out–if I had taken this survey I would have marked that I did not have postpartum depression because I had no idea that is what I was dealing with! Makes you wonder what the real numbers are.

I can tell you now that my postpartum depression came in waves and usually displayed itself as anger and sadness.  Anger at everything. Anger at myself. Anger at my kids. Anger at life. But it was never out of control–I never felt like I was going to hurt myself or my children. Mine was a consistent grouchiness (which I could turn on and off depending on my social interactions).  When the anger fled it usually was replaced with sadness. The most frustrating part was trying to explain it to my husband. He would ask what was wrong and I truly could not explain it to him. Not even a little bit. I’d assure him that I really was happy (because I was), but sometimes I just felt off and didn’t know how to climb out of it.

 

SEE MORE: 10 WAYS TO SURVIVE POSTPARTUM {THE FOURTH TRIMESTER}

 

Let me describe my sadness–it isn’t what you think. Fine, it isn’t what I thought.  I read about depression and saw all the commercials.  I wasn’t withdrawing from what I loved. I still went out with my friends. I still laughed with my husband. I still got out of bed without having to pry my legs off the mattress. However, I was sad about everything. I cried when I dropped my spatula on the floor.  I cried when I didn’t have time to stop and grab a diet coke.  I cried when my son stopped abruptly and spilled his crackers. I cried when someone told a random story that had nothing to do with me or my children or my life–like at all (I hid these tears real good).  I cried when I read about a mouse named Chrysanthemum.  I cried when I forgot to change the laundry to the dryer.  The most interesting part to me now?? I didn’t question this behavior at all. None of this raised red flags to me, even though I had NEVER been like this before. This angry-sad-crying-thing is just what “having kids has made me”.  Right?! No. Guys…this is not normal. A dropped spatula should not make you cry.

As my youngest hit year 2-5, things had evened out. I cried less. I was angry less. I was happy!  Again, our life situation had adjusted, calming down a bit, and I chalked it all up to that.

And then the tears started again. Everything was hard, and sad, and so sad and then sometimes I didn’t want to get out of bed because my whole life would start over again and I just couldn’t.

Ding! Ding! Ding! Lightbulb!

Oh… so this feels more like the depression I read about.

Then one morning I looked at my clock and said “I don’t need to get up. I don’t want to. I won’t. Kids are better without a grumpy, crying mom.” And then the word depressed washed over me. Every. Single. Thing. Clicked. So this is what depression looks like… for me. Anger and tears. In the last 12 years I only had this one inkling of what depression looked like on paper, but that was enough to tie it all together for me. Wow.  What a long 12 years. Hindsight, amiright?

Bless our dear, sweet, patient (hopefully) spouses. This is hard on them, too. PsychologyToday.com published a wonderful article for dads (or any spouse) on how to help and what is not helpful when your loved one is dealing with postpartum depression. Share this with someone you love.

(Source)

My dear friend who works as a doula and has spent many, many hours with postpartum moms made an off-the-cuff comment that postpartum often times mimics PMS.  Imagine your bad PMS week — then extend it for weeks and months and sometimes years. This is what I had! This was me! This was so very much me!  And It is Not. Normal.  Check yourself, Mamas! I plead with you. Assess your emotional state. Ask your spouse if need be. What is different about me? Your postpartum depression may not look like Brooke Shields or the pamphlet from the hospital. That doesn’t mean you don’t have it and it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t seek help.  Don’t compare your struggles to someone else. And the kicker–just because you are completely functional doesn’t mean you are living your best possible life. If something feels off, get it checked out. It can’t hurt anything to have a conversation.

 

See More on TodaysMama.com!

3 Ways I’m Working on my Postpartum Fitness

6 Things Depressed Parents Need to Know

My Postnatal Depression Made Me a BETTER Mom

 

 

 

A Dietitian’s Perspective On How To Handle Halloween Candy

I hear this question a lot this time of year, “as a mom and dietitian, how do you handle Halloween candy with your kids?”

People are surprised when I answer, “I don’t handle it, I let my kids handle it.” They are often confused too, so allow me to explain what I mean. Please note that I am sharing my perspective as a nutrition professional who works with individuals with disordered eating patterns as well as a mom of three little Halloween lovers.

In the nutrition culture we live in, it’s really easy to adopt an all-or-nothing mentality with food. As parents, we run the risk of creating that environment at home. If so, our kids will quickly learn to eat in response to perceived restriction ahead, sneaking or hiding food, or eating all the foods at school, parties or friends’ houses they can’t have at home. This prevents them from honoring their natural, biological signals of hunger and fullness.

 

halloween treats pumpkin

 

My recommendation, and what I practice at home, is to teach a more moderate approach in a structured environment. Eventually our kids will leave home, and instead of raising uber-healthy eaters, a far more effective goal would be to raise competent, confident eaters who trust their own intuitive signals.

In order to do so, we’ve got to give our kids more responsibility with food. Instead of micromanaging their food experiences, I encourage you to give them room to explore and learn. Kids need boundaries too, so it might be helpful to think of this as a flexible structure, with you and your children each having different responsibilities.

The Division of Responsibility is a feeding model developed by registered dietitian Ellyn Satter. Essentially, there are different responsibilities for a parent/caretaker and a child at mealtimes.

Too often parents overstep their boundaries, which can lead to a power struggle. In return, children aren’t able to develop a healthy relationship with food — one where they are offered a variety of foods and then able to listen to their own innate hunger and fullness signals; an essential part of being a competent eater through adulthood. Below, I will quote from the Ellyn Satter Institute to give you an idea of what the DOR looks like:

Halloween Candy Corn

Parents’ feeding jobs:

  • Choose and prepare the food.
  • Provide regular meals and snacks.
  • Make eating times pleasant.
  • Step-by-step, show children by example how to behave at family mealtime.
  • Be considerate of children’s lack of food experience without catering to likes and dislikes.
  • Don’t let children have food or beverages (except for water) between meal and snack times.
  • Let children grow up to get bodies that are right for them.

Children’s eating jobs:

  • Children will eat.
  • They will eat the amount they need.
  • They will learn to eat the food their parents eat.
  • They will grow predictably.
  • They will learn to behave well at mealtime.

You as the parent are responsible for providing a variety of foods, establishing appropriate meal and snack times, and monitoring where food is eaten (ideally in the kitchen, not in front of the TV or in bedrooms, etc). Children are responsible for deciding what and how much they want at meal and snack times. You aren’t a short order cook, and the kitchen doesn’t have a revolving door for kids to grab something anytime they please. For more information on the Division of Responsibility, I would recommend the book “Secrets to Feeding a Healthy Family” by Satter.

 

SEE MORE: 5 HALLOWEEN CRUISES YOUR KIDS WILL LOVE

 

So how does this relate to Halloween candy?

We trust our kids to trust themselves in how to handle their candy, within a certain structure. They will likely eat more than usual or necessary on Halloween, because that’s totally normal. In the days and weeks to follow, they can include some candy along with meals and snacks (within the meal and snack times you decide), preventing the need to have it all right now before the candy gets donated or sold or hidden or thrown away.

If you feel a child isn’t taking care of responsibilities, you are encouraged to have an honest discussion with your child about your concerns.

For example, let’s say your child complains of a stomach ache each time he includes candy at snack time. You could express concern that he isn’t listening to his own fullness levels and remind him he is in charge of knowing when he has had enough (since you have no idea when he feels full). Remind him you want to keep candy (or any treat or food he loves) in the house, but he is responsible for connecting with his body to know what it wants and needs. Help him get curious as to why he feels the way he does and help him solve his own problem.

The question isn’t whether candy is healthy or not. The question is what approach is effective and helpful. Don’t get too caught up in results and instead focus on a process that works to help your child become self-directed, honest, responsible and trust-worthy.

To be honest, there are many times I would much rather see my kids eat something else, but to tell them what to eat just doesn’t achieve what I hope for them. Parents controlling their child’s food intake only teaches the child to rebel against the rules. Setting a structure for balanced meals and snacks, with treats at meals or as part of snacks if your child wants them is what I feel is the best approach for our family, and my general recommendation to you.

 

See More on TodaysMama.com!

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10 of the Best Non-Candy Halloween Treats

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