Vacation Envy: What’s It Really About?

Is it bad to say I hate school breaks? I guess that’s not entirely true, I like breaks. I like having the kids home. I like camping in the spring and swimming in the summer. And lucky me married a teacher, so I get to see him every day during those breaks. Those things, I love. What I hate, is my social media feeds plastered with everyone’s vacations for the entire break. Vacations to Hawaii, traveling the country with happy kids (and dog) in tow. A family reunion at a pricey resort, with a quick stop at Disneyland on the way home. A beach trip, a beach trip, and another beach trip. Can you guess where my family’s going this break? Yup. Nowhere.

If you can relate then you have the same question each break that I do. How can my family enjoy this break when we can’t vacation like we want to? Or maybe vacation at all? The answer is, you have to step back and look at what you’re really feeling. Once you understand that, you can tackle the envy head on and get back to enjoying your family time again.

family vacation envy

 

What are you REALLY envious of?

When I see posts of my friends and family on vacations, I don’t typically want to be on that specific vacation. So why am I so jealous that they’re there and I’m not? My reason is because I’m my best self when I’m not hindered by work and other stresses. When does that usually happen? You guessed it, when I’m on vacation. THAT is what I’m jealous of. I want to be carefree, spending fun, memory-making time with my family. But guess what else? Vacation isn’t the only place we can do that.

 

The Common Ingredient is You.

Believe it or not, kids don’t need expensive vacations to be happy and neither do you. Yes, they’ll talk about the big trips the most, but they aren’t necessarily the ones they remember the most fondly. A child’s happy formula is a lot like ours, if they can laugh with you, have your undivided attention and do something fun and out of the ordinary, that’s all they need.

Here’s some no-cost / low-cost adventures my family went on that gave my kids something to say when the teacher asked, “What did you do over the break?”

 

Low-Cost High-Adventure Family Time

 

MOVIE FORT

One of my families favorite no cost adventures is building a movie fort in our family room. We pin and staple sheets and blankets to the ceiling until the entire room is encased. Then we pop some popcorn, bake some cookies and watch a movie or two (or three or four). Some times we even sleep in the fort. The kids love it. It’s also a great activity to invite friends to join in on. Their friends always leave saying, “We never do that at my house.” Which will be a major confidence boost for your child.

family vacation envy blanket fort

 

SECRET MISSIONS

This one is great for shorter breaks, like spring or winter break. It’s as simple as having one or two easy activities planned for each day. When your kids wake up (and finish their chores) you hand them their secret mission for the day. Some ideas we’ve done in the past are:

  • Boxes, Crayons and Sidewalk Chalk: I load these three into their secret mission box, and their “mission” is to create a town for their scooters and bikes using those items. It keeps them busy ALL day. Then my husband and I go for a tour of their town on one of their scooters when they’re done.
  • Making Cookies Blind-folded: This mission works best with older children, that can read. One parent or child is blind-folded, while their partner guides them through making the cookies. Cracking eggs and mixing in flour can get really adventurous! I may have purposely missed the bowl and poured the sugar on the counter before, just to make them laugh.
  • A Grocery Shopping Race: Let’s face it, sometimes you still have to get stuff done over the breaks, but why not turn it in to a fun activity for the family? For this one, the family is divided in to two or more teams. Each team has a portion of the grocery list. There’s a designated meeting spot once the team has gathered all the items off their list. Fastest team wins! The winning team gets to choose the family treat – like which flavor of ice cream – but everyone gets to eat it.
  • Fake Money and Garage Sale Stickers: Following the grocery store theme, this secret mission was a favorite for my kids when they were little. You give them free reign of the pantry and a room in the house that can be transformed in to a grocery store. They are allowed to stick the garage sale stickers (or any other stickers with prices on them) on the food you already have in your pantry and then go shopping for it to buy with their fake money (Monopoly money is perfect for this). Laundry baskets are great shopping carts, and a stud-finder from the hardware store works great for their food “scanner” since it makes an awesome beeping sound.
  • Secret Service: One of the fastest ways for you or your kids to stop being jealous of other’s vacations is to get out and do something nice for someone else. The secret missions in this department are endless! Why not take some of those cookies you made blindfolded to a neighbor (as long as they’re edible)?

CAMPING 

Camping is cheap, kids love it, and most parents can handle it for one night! There’s other alternatives too, like setting up the tent in your backyard, sleeping on the trampoline or having a campout in Mom and Dad’s room (you get your comfy bed and the kids will think your floor is an adventure).

Not up for a whole night outdoors? Find a park that will allow you to build a fire and make S’mores or roast hot dogs for dinner. Bonus points from the kids if it’s near water they can throw rocks in!

family vacataion envy camping

 

As weird as it might seem, the final piece of advice is to rehearse with your kids what to say when someone asks them what they did over the break. I know that might sound odd but think about it from their perspective. The main reason that a kid wants to go on a vacation (aside from being with you), is because they want something to tell their friends about. Help them know what to say that they’ll feel proud of. Things like, “I went on a Mission Impossible week.” Or “My Mom made cookies with a blindfold on.” Each one of these scenarios will…

  1. Get their friends asking questions
  2. Will help them get the positive attention they’re craving
  3. Will get you a break full of memories you can afford and… maybe a thing or two you can post on Instagram.

What it all boils down to is that a vacation is not as much about where you go as it is about spending time with your family and getting away from the ordinary. I think it’s about time we take a break from the mindset that going on a vacation means you have to leave home. Get creative, laugh with your kids and I promise this break you’ll have the best family “vacation” you’ve had in a really long time.

family vacation envy family time

 

About the Author

Jenner Porter lives in Austin, TX with her husband, four kids and kitchen aid mixer. They spend long, happy hours baking together. Sometimes she hangs out with her husband and kids too. Jenner writes picture books, middle grade novels, magazine articles and short stories. Humor is an important element in her writing and can be seen throughout her works. Her works have appeared in Jack and JillFriend, Ensign and Highlights magazines. She also has a picture book featured on storybird.com.  Follow Jenner on Twitter here: @slushpilestory

 

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The post Vacation Envy: What’s It Really About? appeared first on TodaysMama.

Tech Reset – Trimming Your Instagram Feed

If you are a frequent user of Instagram and you aren’t regularly unfollowing accounts, you need to. Instagram is a visual social media platform and its meteoric rise rivaled Facebook which eventually led to Facebook purchasing Instagram. For years, Instagram stayed static with the chronological feed of photos which was a lot of its appeal – it was the anti-Facebook. Today, it has all but swallowed Snapchat whole “adopting” stories. Instagram has it’s own generation of social media influencers. Because it is such a visual platform, we consume perfectly curated snapshots of others lives.

Your feed on Instagram is of your own creation but over time, you’ll follow accounts that are unnecessary or even damaging to your mental health. A recent survey ranked Instagram worst for young people’s health. Social media may set unrealistic expectations and contribute to feelings of inadequacy. Because Instagram is so visual, with personal photos at the forefront, Instagram can easily affect you and support the idea that you are unable to measure up. Trimming the fat – getting rid of unnecessary accounts will help. You should strive to keep only those accounts that are inspiring and important to you. Cleansing your Instagram feed should be a regular component of social media detox.

I adopted the practice of routinely cleansing my Instagram feed a few years ago upon the suggestion of a fellow Instagrammer.  It was an arbitrary number, but he suggested keeping those I follow to under 500. So when I see that number start to creep up again, I start my cleanse. Just before writing this post, I followed 528. After, I was down to 462. Since the number of people that you follow will vary greatly, I would suggest that every time you drop accounts, shoot for dropping 10-20% of your followers. Or,  just pick a number to shoot for as a goal.

social media cleaning

 

Ready to get started? Here are some suggestions.

  • According to Instagram, 80% of users follow a business. There’s that thing on Instagram where you just have to like a photo and follow an account for a chance to win. I won’t lie, I do this all the time. The easiest way to trim the fat is to start with the businesses, companies or social media influencers that you don’t need to see in your regular feed. Now that Instagram regularly inserts ads, why contribute even more to the clutter by following a dozen businesses?
  • Let’s get back to social media influencers or bloggers. Sometimes I follow them for their recipes, crafts or style. Sometimes I follow them to see the exotic places they’ve traveled. But once I start feeling negatively when I see those perfect photos, I know it’s time to cut the cord and say goodbye. There is no need for that in my feed.
  • Now, what about friends or even family that makes your face go twisty when you see their feed? You know, the one who constantly posts photos of her rock hard abs that she worked hard to get. Or the one who makes yourself ask, who is taking this picture of you acting naturally and perfectly styled with your very clean and well-dressed children? If the account does not bring you joy, stop following it. If they are friends or family, you can most likely catch them on Facebook, or you can just check in on their account once in a while, leave a friendly comment and a heart.
  • Another easy way to purge accounts is to unfollow people you don’t know personally. If you can’t remember how or why you started following them in the first place, it’s probably time to say goodbye.
  • A super easy way to drop accounts is to unfollow those who haven’t posted in 6 months. Obviously, there is discretion in this one but there are a lot of your friends who started on Instagram and you clicked follow. For some, Instagram isn’t their thing and they stopped posting or don’t even use the app anymore.

Don’t feel obligated to follow any account even if they follow you! Leave a comment about how you felt after clearing out your Instagram feed. My guess is that you’ll be glad you did it.

 

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I Once Was The Woman Waiting To Be A Mother

I love this quote.
I once was her, the “one,” waiting, wishing, hoping to be a Mother.

Finding out I was finally going to be a Mom was one most incredible feelings. It didn’t matter whether I was going to give birth naturally or have a cesarean (we are all rockstars btw). And it didn’t matter that my body was going to change drastically. I was finally going to be a Mom, a Mom to triplets!

And although I never imagined my body would look the way it does now, it represents so much more. There is a lot of extra skin, stretch marks, sag and wrinkles. And while my new Mom body may be hard to love sometimes, it is a new me that represents the power of the female body and the miracle of carrying three babies.

I call my postpartum marks my “Hope wounds” and they have taught me a greater meaning of self-love and appreciation for my body. There is empowerment for yourself in loving yourself.

Our postpartum marks are stories of hope, stories of love, and sometimes stories of loss. There is so much beauty in our Mom bodies because above all they represent life, our children, and the undeniable love we have for them.

For the “one”somewhere wishing, hoping, praying for her miracle, this is for you. May you have hope in your journey and be reminded that you are never alone. And to all the Mama’s struggling to love themselves: you’re beautiful, and strong. It is okay to take the time to grieve your pre-baby body. Your feelings for how you may feel about your body are valid and heard, but I hope, today, you are empowered to love yourself a little more today!!

 

dear anxietyAbout the Author

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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Charlize Theron Parenting is All Of Us

My favorite kind of parent are those who don’t pretend life is glitter and butterflies all the time. Let’s be honest: if your kid has never been in timeout or had that mean-fast-parent-walk head towards them, you should get some sort of medal.

I’m pretty real when it comes to my kids, their attitudes, my attitude and why sometimes the kids aren’t my favorite little people in the world. I know I may have taken it too far when family members start reminding me, “They’re good kids.” This is true. But today they need to be “good kids” in their room. With the door closed.

It’s this kind of real talk that made me fall in love with Charlize Theron just a little bit more.  Let’s all take a moment and relish in her parenting honesty:

Yeeessss!!! Kids will be kids. Sometimes their insanity and endless giggling makes me laugh and smile, but after the 15th time out of bed when “I just want to watch my grown-up show!!” things get real.

Parenting is hard. Being a kid is hard, too. When your kid acts up, he’s not the devil or the worst kid in the world. He’s normal! When you get mad because said kid acts up, you’re normal!  If we can’t laugh at our reality, then what on earth are we doing? I’ll tell you what we’re doing–slowly dying inside because of the guilt, stress and anxiety we’re causing ourselves.

So the next time you want to post on social media about what a blessing and joy your kids are–go for it. Just don’t forget to add in those posts where you’re over it. Trust me when I tell you the parental troops will rally because you. are. not. alone.

And just in case you don’t believe me, here are some my favorite Instagram parents you should be following.
 

@SimonCHolland

 

A post shared by Simon Holland (@simoncholland) on

 

@mommycusses

 

@kidsaretheworst

 

@howtobeadad

 

Kids, man. Dang.

A post shared by HowToBeADad.com (@howtobeadad) on

 

@fatherofdaughters

 

Monday’s are always difficult, and not just because it’s the start of the working week. @mother_of_daughters heads offbat 4.45am to have a break from us to work, leaving me in charge of coordinating both the am & pm routines which can be more challenging than starting a fire with a tray of ice cubes. As the sun rose, everything was fine, but I can only assume that Ottie urinated in delilah’s imaginary tea in the home corner at nursery, as upon arriving at home this evening, world war 3. Delilah silently decided to use Ottie as a budget floor mop & dragged her by the hair through her own dinner like a plough, forcing me to reluctantly dust off my invisible referees outfit once again & quite literally keep them at arm’s length from eachother until bedtime. Who else out there just loves Mondays? #thatgirlcanholdagrudge #dadreferee #catfight #twins #comehomeclemmie #toddlerhairtransplantrequired #fatherofdaughters #dadlofe #fod #instadad

A post shared by Simon, also known as FOD (@father_of_daughters) on


 So when you feel like you are sucking it up at this parenting gig, I suggest you find yourself a nice, dark closet. Bring your favorite treat and/or drink and hide away for 10 minutes. Maybe 20. Or at least until it gets eerily quiet and you have no choice but to find out what depths of hell have quietly awoken. Best of luck. Just know I fully support you and whatever choices you make today. I especially support you if it means you ignoring the laundry to giggle with someone who needed extra love (even if that someone is you).

 

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Life After Birth: 5 Ways to Take Care Of Yourself

Check out part one and part two of our series of frequently asked questions on postpartum mood disorders. We are offering an exclusive discount to Today’s Mama’s readers. Enter code HMHBLOVESTM to take $40 off a lifetime membership to our program. In our two-part series on postpartum mental health, we mentioned the idea of upping your self-care game if you have the baby blues. (Please note: the baby blues is not a postpartum mood disorder. Read our previous posts for a clear explanation and check out this post about baby blues vs. postpartum depression.) Self-care is often neglected during the blur of new motherhood, so we hope these fun ideas will tempt you to treat yourself and indulge in some much deserved YOU time.

Enjoy Some Water Therapy

Budget: Ask your partner, a friend, family member or sitter to take your little(s) for an hour of uninterrupted time. Fill up your tub and add your favorite bubbles, oils, or salts (we love these Ancient Minerals bath salts). Light a candle, and turn on your favorite Pandora station loud enough to cancel out any potential baby/toddler noises. Make sure to lock the door, so your zen isn’t interrupted.

Splurge: Consider checking out a float tank (get approval from your provider first!) in your area. Float tanks (sometimes called sensory deprivation tanks) are large, light- and sound-free chambers concentrated with Epsom salt so your body floats to the surface. It can be used as a tool for stress and pain management. If you don’t have any float tank companies in your area, consider getting a day pass to a local spa that has a hot tub. Either way, you’ll still get some deep relaxation and restorative time alone.

Find A Supportive Community

We were designed to mother in communities. Reaching out for help is life skill that you can start practicing today! Sometimes a good laugh or venting session with a friend can help do the trick. Other times, you may need a more experienced professional to step in.

Budget:  Set up a babysitting swap with another mama friend. You watch her kid(s) while she enjoys some alone time, and next time she’ll watch yours. Don’t have any close mama friends? Ask anyone you trust to watch your little(s) and you can “repay” them with a coffee or have them over for dinner once you’re feeling up to it. Don’t want to be alone? Strap the baby in the stroller, grab a friend, go for a walk, and allow yourself an hour to just vent on how freaking hard motherhood is. Once you’re done releasing, discuss ways you can troubleshoot the difficult situations. Need professional support? Check out Postpartum Support International’s free, live “Chats With an Expert” which are facilitated by licensed mental health professionals. You can also see if your insurance covers visits to health professionals, such as a behavioral health and marriage and family therapists.

Splurge: Hire a personal trainer, registered dietitian (this may be covered by your insurance), life coach, or business coach who can offer you personalized strategies to reach your unique goals, whatever they may be.

Streamline Your Beauty Routine

I mean, you’re absolutely stunning without makeup, but sometimes it just feels nice to spend a few minutes brushing your hair and taking care of your skin. Take some time to figure out a quick beauty routine that works for you. If you know you can breeze through your beauty routine in under 10 minutes with products you love to use, you’ll probably make regular time to do so.

Budget: We all have that one friend who has fantastic hair and makeup. Ask her if she’d come over to take a look at your makeup drawer and help you figure out which products to keep; which products to toss; which products to invest in; and how to organize everything. She’ll be honored to share her tips with you, and you’ll get some girlfriend time in!

Splurge: Consider going to a local Ulta or department store make-up counter and have them give you a quick make-over. You’ll likely have to purchase a product and/or pay a small fee for the service, but it can be a fun, new way to recreate your style. Ask for a simple routine to keep it reasonable! Or, you can try Beautycounter’s 5-Minute Face Kit. You could also go to a nice salon and get a great new haircut. Ask the stylist for some tips for fabulous, low-maintenance style!

Channel Your Inner Bookworm

I’m talking fiction — dramatic, juicy, “I can’t put it down” books. I’m NOT talking sleep training books and the other millions of baby books that make you doubt your mama instincts. Pick a new favorite tome and find some time to read each week.

Budget: Head to your library and find something that will take your mind off of mom-ing for awhile. You may be able to time it just right to join the library’s mommy and me group while you’re there! Or, you could also borrow a book from a friend, family member, or neighbor who has similar interests. Consider joining a book club. You might be able to find a local one on Meetup, or you can join an online book club on Instagram, like Belletrist, Book Bento, or RWBookClub.

Splurge: Consider getting a Kindle or Audible membership to keep your personal library fresh with new options.

Get Help with Grocery Shopping and Food Prep

Budget:  Consider a time-saving grocery service, like Instacart. Some popular local grocery stores also offer this service, and Amazon Prime Now delivers groceries in specific areas. You could also host a  weekly meal swap with your neighbors/community, where you each make a few batches of your favorite meal. Then you can “trade” batches of your meal for other meals so you get a variety of meals throughout the week, with less work and prep time.

Splurge: Let meal-delivery companies do the cooking for you! There are plenty of Whole30 Approved options out there. If cooking relaxes you, but you’d like help with some of the prep work, consider a service like SunBasket. Maybe meal planning gets you down. In that case, a subscription to RealPlans might be the ticket. It will save you tons of time planning and you’ll find delicious, new recipes to keep your meals exciting.

Bonus ideas from our HMHB Community:

“Tiara time” Dedicate at least 5-minutes to yourself.  You can designate this time by literally putting on a toy tiara, or by sitting in a certain spot in your house. When your partner or (older) kids see that, they’ll know that you need a minute to recharge and that they can’t interrupt you until it’s over.

Purchase a new coffee mug with a fun slogan Choose something to make you smile every morning. I like mugs from Brim Papery and The Love Bomb Company.

Start a new hobby or rekindle an old passion. Strap on your dusty rollerblades, learn how to kickbox, decorate cakes, play piano, color, or dance. The options are endless!

Walk around Target without a child or a time limit What else is there to say?

Recognize Yourself

The simplest way to take care of yourself? Remind yourself that you’re still you! It’s important to “put on your own oxygen mask before helping others.” In order to be the best version of yourself, you need to have your own needs met, and this includes taking time for self-care. When you’re not taking care of yourself, you’re more likely to pick arguments with your partner, yell at your kids, and emotionally eat. Simply taking a few minutes for yourself each day can make all the difference. Give it a shot, mama! What do you have to lose? What’s your favorite way to take care of yourself? Join the conversation on Instagram or send us an email.


Steph(hi)-6Stephanie Greunke is a registered dietitian with a master’s degree in nutrition who specializes in women’s health. She is a certified personal trainer and prenatal and postnatal corrective exercise specialist. Stephanie guides and supports women locally and globally through her web-based private practice, RockYourHormones.com.

 

 

Note: Some of the links contained in this website are affiliate links. This means that we may receive a commission if you click on the link and make a purchase from the affiliate. We only recommend products and services that we know or trust to be of high quality, whether an affiliate relationship is in place or not.

 

Cultivating Gratitude For Your Body

We live in a weight- and body-shape-obsessed society, and it’s easy (and normal) to develop body dissatisfaction.

I recently heard the term “normative discontent,” coined in the 1980s by researchers who found widespread negative body image, particularly among women, in the United States. I really love it, I think it describes the issue perfectly, and also makes it so obvious how easily we fall prey to cultural norms, even if they make us miserable.

Essentially, it’s become really normal and socially acceptable to hate your body to the point that if you don’t, you are the minority. Isn’t that sad? While this may be more common among women, men come under the same pressure to look a certain way.

It starts young, too. A staggering 42 percent of girls in first through third grades want to be thinner, while 81 percent of 10-year-olds are afraid of being fat. Further, eating disorders affect 10 million females and 1 million males.

body positive girls happy

While there are many causes for developing eating disorders, we see exponential increases in body dissatisfaction, internalization of the thin ideal (or muscular ideal) and disordered eating with increases in exposure to media and popular fitness culture. Feeling inferior or flawed can make us desperate, as evidenced by the $60 billion diet industry.

Why cultivating gratitude can help

As a nutrition professional who regularly counsels individuals with disordered eating and body hatred, I have found real benefit in helping clients cultivate a sense of gratitude for their bodies.

With such extreme societal pressures, it may not feel realistic to love — or even like — your body, at least right now. It may be easier to practice body respect, weight neutrality and less emphasis on appearance in general. Shifting focus from appearance to how your body feels or functions can help cultivate gratitude for what it can do, or what it allows you to do.

This quote from Robert Holden perfectly summarizes why I feel cultivating gratitude for your body is so effective, “The real gift of gratitude is that the more grateful you are, the more present you become.”

As you cultivate gratitude for your body, you embrace where you are, allowing you to connect with what your body needs. This leads you to take care of yourself in a way that can bring about improvements in overall health and well-being. It has nothing to do with changing or manipulating your body and everything to do with supporting, respecting and caring for it. If your body changes as a result, then there’s that.

If it doesn’t, it’s no less deserving of support, respect and self-care.

 

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How do you do that?

So how can you cultivate gratitude? When I think of November I think of cooler weather, crisp and juicy apples and Thanksgiving. Most notably, I love the reminder November brings to practice gratitude.

This November I am about 6 months pregnant.  I’ve had really positive body image throughout my pregnancy and obviously that has nothing to do with getting smaller.  My belly is growing and some of the rest of me is too.  But because this pregnancy was such a huge surprise and I really didn’t ever imagine I would be pregnant again, I’ve had such a profound sense of gratitude for my body and for all it’s doing to grow a baby.  I have no idea how to do that, but it does, and I’ve trusted it to let me know what it needs.  That may be extra food or rest or physical activity or something else entirely.  I’ve had gratitude and trust for my body which I know is the reason for my positive body image.

That’s important because we typically think of positive body image happening after we change or manipulate our body to be smaller or stronger or fit any other societal expectation.  In reality, you can cultivate body trust and gratitude right now.

love yourself body positive

I asked some of my favorite body image gurus to comment ideas for how to cultivate gratitude.  I hope you find their insight helpful.

“Feeling thankful for one’s body often doesn’t come easily, but everyone can develop a practice of body gratitude. No matter what your size, fitness level or health status, your body is doing its best by you. Begin by choosing one part of your body and saying something positive about it. If this feels too scary, start with an easier, less triggering body part. It could be as simple as, ‘My ears keep me connected to the people I love by letting me hear their voices. I love to listen to my children’s stories.'” — Barbara Spanjers, therapist and wellness coach

“Learning to cultivate gratitude for your body can feel really difficult when you are struggling with negative body image. One way to combat that is to allow yourself to let in a mix of feelings — both positive and negative. Giving yourself permission to feel grateful for a healthy set of lungs won’t eliminate the judgment you feel about your thighs. But it will open the door for you to have a more nuanced experience of your body rather than one that is dominated by negativity. This will help open the door to a more peaceful relationship to your body.” — Marci Evans, registered dietitian and food and body image healer

“YOGA! Yoga was the beginning of my well-being journey, and it continues to prove itself valuable. No matter the pose, I feel as though it’s the best way to express gratitude for my body. I accept my body exactly how it is, which creates a space to stretch a little further if it feels right. If not, I’m still breathing, and that alone is something to be grateful for.” — Maggie Danforth, registered dietitian

gratitude body image healthy yoga

“Body-hatred takes time to learn and thus, it makes sense that body neutrality (or even body love) is a process that takes time as well.” — Jennifer Rollin, MSW, LGSW, psychotherapist and eating disorder specialist

I hope this has given you an idea of how to practice body gratitude. While it’s tempting to think you can hate yourself into feeling motivated to change your body, it’s never effective, it keeps you stuck and only causes emotional distress. I know food and body peace is possible and cultivating gratitude is the path to get there.

Emily Fonnesbeck RD, CD

 

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Here’s What Your Food Cravings Are REALLY Trying To Tell You

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Here’s What Your Food Cravings Are REALLY Trying To Tell You

Your cravings have wisdom. 

If you are human, you’ve likely experienced cravings before.  Maybe you even feel like you are someone who experiences them to a greater degree than what may be considered normal.  Our current nutrition culture is such that you likely have felt a lot of judgment about having them, particularly if they are for “unhealthy” foods.  Alternately, you would likely feel pride or relief about craving something “healthy” like a salad or oatmeal.

Judging our cravings, however, gets us nowhere.  The process of making peace with food, embracing Intuitive Eating and giving up the diet mentality absolutely requires curiosity.  A critical, judgmental mind holds you back whereas curiosity is probably your biggest asset. If you can lean into WHY, you can uncover so much about yourself, about food and about what you need.

As you lead with curiosity, you’re likely to find your cravings have wisdom.  It’s so true.  They can teach you a lot actually, if you’ll let them.  I’m gonna help you out here with a list of possibilities when it comes to cravings.  I would love to hear what you’ve found to be true for you as well.  Leave me a comment below!

It just sounds good to eat.  Really don’t need to overthink that too much.

Inadequate nutrition.  A very common cause of cravings is inadequate fuel and nutrition, particularly if those cravings (or resulting behaviors) feel compulsive.  Often we blame this on willpower, self-control or lack of discipline when really it’s because you’ve felt unsatisfied and undernourished.  If you’ve skipped meals, gone too long without eating or been restricting foods or food groups (which has left meals or snacks unbalanced or too small), it could easily lead to cravings later.  It’s common practice to skimp on carbohydrates or fats, and isn’t it often high fat carbohydrates that we are craving?  It’s definitely worth checking to see if you have an even distribution of carbohydrates and fats all throughout the day.  Of course, protein is worth looking at too.

Food insecurity.  We typically associate food insecurity with kids who don’t have access to food.  While that’s true, it could also be self-inflicted through dieting or restrictive mindsets.  When you feel like food isn’t going to be there tomorrow, it will absolutely effect your thoughts and behaviors today.  Giving yourself unconditional permission to eat will decrease the power food has over you.  Being in control by having food rules is an illusion; they are actually controlling you.

Emotional hunger.  We certainly are complex human beings with many different kinds of hunger.  Eating outside of physical hunger is totally normal and happens to us all.  However, consistently using food as the only way to meet your needs is likely leaving you confused and lacking confidence in your ability to take care of yourself.  We need food.  We also need rest, connection, movement, love and variety.  We need to feel relevant and like we are making contributions in positive ways.  We want to feel like we belong and are a part of something meaningful and valuable.  I’m sure we could list more.  If you feel like something is lacking, it could be easier to distract or numb with food instead of leaning into what it is or how you’re feeling.  In this case, working to become more emotionally aware would be worthwhile to you.  This could be done through journaling, therapy (nutrition therapy with an RD included) or some other form of self-reflection.

You’re craving variety.  Have you been eating the same thing over and over and over?  Our bodies want and need a wide variety of foods to function optimally.  It’s physically and psychologically unsatisfying to eat the same foods day in and day out.  Building more flexibility into your meals and snacks will likely help you feel less preoccupied with food.

You’re not at your natural weight.  If you are trying to maintain a weight that is below your natural healthy weight, you will experience strong cravings for food.  It’s a really smart biological adaptation that supports survival.  The idea that we can look however we want if we just work hard enough is a really irresponsible cultural narrative which can easily lead to extreme, dangerous and unhealthy behaviors.  The truth is that we all have a genetically determined set-point, or a weight at which we function optimally.  If you are restricting food and/or overexercising to maintain a weight lower than ideal for you, food will feel really compelling and preoccupying and you will likely have frequent, intense cravings.

food craving wisdom scale

You aren’t respecting your body’s intuitive signals of hunger and fullness.  When you get hungry, do you honor it?  When you get full, do you respect that?  We are all going to have days where we end up overly hungry and/or overly full.  But consistently ignoring what your body is communicating to you leads to lack of self-trust.  What you might be interpreting as cravings may just be your body communicating it’s needs.  Interoceptive awareness, or the signaling and perception of internal bodily sensations, is a skill often lacking in those with disordered eating.  Perhaps assigning a number to your hunger and a number to your fullness for a few days will help you connect, fostering more trust for your body and it’s ability to communicate with you.  HERE is a hunger scale you could use.

Lots of judgment about “good” food and “bad” food.  This is related to #2.  In our current nutrition culture, it’s easy to equate healthy eating with restrictive eating.  However, healthy eating is actually very flexible and inclusive of a wide variety of foods.  By labeling foods good and bad, you are encouraging an all-or-nothing mentality where you are either being good or bad.  This can lead to inconsistent, irregular and inadequate food patterns (think restriction/chaos diet cycle) when in reality our bodies function best with consistent, regular and adequate nutrition.  When we are swinging between extremes in eating, our blood sugar can swing, our mood can swing and our hunger/fullness signals can swing, leading to more intense cravings than you may be comfortable with.

Some cravings – like salty foods for example – may indicate a medical issue.  If you find these cravings to be very intense and very frequent, it may be necessary to seek medical advice.

Lastly, be sure you aren’t thinking of hunger like it’s a character flaw.  We are human.  We get hungry and when we get hungry we want to eat and feel satisfied.  It’s an innate need which diet culture would have us feel ashamed of.  I’ve definitely learned that if I’m craving chocolate, fruit will not cut it.  If I’m craving pizza, a salad will not do.  How often do we eat around the craving and then have it anyway?  Don’t waste too much of your time overthinking cravings.  Honestly, most of the time it’s best just to honor it.

See More on TodaysMama.com!

What You Need to Know About Diet and Weight Loss

Three Foods You Should Stop Eating Immediately

“Fitness” Made Me Infertile

 

On the Ugly Business of Comparison: A Letter to Us Moms

Can I say something to all us mommas, something God has been speaking to my heart?

I have been reading in Galatians 5 for a study I am doing. I read it, and it’s like I can hear it written just for us moms on this very real struggle of comparison and the weight of expectation we live under.

Would it be okay if I take my liberties with this passage that was written to the church of Galatia in the first century and write it to us, in our time and just for us moms?

For in Christ Jesus neither is homeschooling nor public schooling nor private Christian schooling anything…

Neither is Walmart nor Target nor Whole Foods. Neither are cloth diapers nor disposables. Neither gluten free, paleo, whole food, nor McDonald’s drive thru. Neither breastfeeding nor bottle-feeding. Neither all-natural home birth, planned c-section, nor begging for the epidural the very second you enter the hospital.

Neither is minivan, jalopy sedan, nor hybrid SUV. Neither is a streamlined chore system nor a pile of laundry sitting on the couch for 3 days. Neither is birthing a child every eighteen months nor stopping after one.

But the only thing that is anything is faith working through love.

mom comparison

Sisters, you were called to FREEDOM. Freedom to prepare bento boxes for school lunches or not. Freedom to adhere to baby-wise or to just wing it. But, sisters, do not turn your freedom into an opportunity to think yourself better than anyone else. THROUGH LOVE SERVE ONE ANOTHER. For the whole law is fulfilled in one statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you compare, judge, gossip, and try to find yourself a morally superior high ground that is better than one of your sisters, take care that you are not consumed by one another.

But I say, walk in the Spirit…

Motherhood is this vulnerable place. No matter whether you chose to ride into motherhood on the premise that it couldn’t be too hard or whether you read no less than twenty-three books on parenting before you pushed that first baby into the world at some point you will feel clueless.

Even if book-learning and the sage advice of experienced moms could give us a leg-up on this parenting gig, there are things like colic, illnesses in a babe who can’t tell us where it hurts, terrific two’s, even more terrific three’s, mean kids at school, and preteen hormone surges that all level the playing field. And if none of the aforementioned scenarios leave you stumped, there are always those awkward moments, like when your daughter calmly and matter-of-factly announces to company that mom and dad shower together. (?!)

Friends, we all find ourselves feeling clueless, our shortcomings laid bare, and so very vulnerable in this thing called motherhood.

{And don’t we hate that?}

I think in all the beyond-our-control variables of parenting, in all the mistakes we just know we are making, in all the guilt we feel for all things we never get around to…

Our lives shout at us: “You aren’t enough! You need to do better! You need to try harder!” We miss the grace we have been freely given and the invitation to walk arm in arm with the Savior.

Our finite minds seriously miss the eternal view God has of our lives, our kids’ lives, and the way He is beyond able to use it ALL and work it ALL out for His Glory.

We struggle to accept God’s love for us.

We try to do motherhood by law, instead of grace.

We compare ourselves. We play judge. We treat the intelligence and talents of our kids as a competition and as a measure of our worth as parents. We think we have some kind of place to look at another mom’s life and determine whether she’s right or wrong, better or worse. Sometimes in our zeal for whatever passion we have stumbled into, we assume it must be best for everyone.

We look at a mom glowing in her talents, walking in her call, and read her personal excitement as a personal attack on the way we are living life.

We feel like we are somehow less of a mother for bottle feeding when we get up in the middle of the night AND make a bottle. We feel like we are somehow missing our badge of honor because narrow hips required a c-section AND a month of recovery with a newborn. We look at our mess of a home and feel like a failure AFTER a day of errands, wiping bottoms, picking up toys, and feeding… and feeding… and feeding again.

{Could we stop that?}

mom love yourself

I have a feeling the heart of all this originates in the same reason Paul penned Galatians and addressed the Jewish Christians who were preaching circumcision and the Gentiles who were choking on the hard demand.

It’s fear. And it’s pride.

It’s Grace-negating. And it’s freedom-squelching.

Momma, outside of love, there is no law to motherhood. There are only callings and talents and tools.

Follow God’s call for you and your family wherever He leads. Shine in the God-given talents you were given (cooking, organizing, music, teaching, exploring, crafting…) And use the tools that are best for the making of your home and the raising of the precious kids God placed in your care–whether that’s baby-wise, homeopathic remedies, or chore charts.

The only thing that is anything is faith working through love.

So, rather than compare and judge and think we know a sister’s life from the fleeting glimpses of her Instagram account, let’s hold each other up. Let’s pray for each other. Let’s serve one another.

Even in our differences.

ESPECIALLY in our differences.

We are all moms. We all love so big. We are all tilling the fallow ground of a child’s heart: both soft and rocky and full of strong-willed defiance. We are carrying the gospel to an unreached people group—our kids. It’s important work. And, oh sisters, how we need each other’s encouragement. And truly we need a little less zeal for methods and fads and a whole lot more room for grace.

THROUGH LOVE SERVE ONE ANOTHER. For the whole law is fulfilled in one statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

From one momma to another, I am standing here encouraging you, sister, to let His Grace wash over all your failings, to follow Christ where He leads, to shine in your talents, and to be a YOU kind of momma.

Maybe we could talk about this here? What is the one thing that is hardest to you about motherhood? What is one of the most hurtful comments you have ever heard from another mom? What is one of the most life-giving statements you have ever heard from a fellow mom?

By Grace,

Amanda Conquers

 

Amanda Conquers is a cop’s wife, mom to 3 kids, and a cheerleader for weary women. Most days, she wants to hide in her closet with her secret stash of chocolate because she feels like she’s not quite enough. But Amanda lives holding on to the hope that in spite of all her failings, she shall be called an overcomer yet. You can find her writing her broken stories on her blog, Facebook, and Instagram.