Embracing the moments we have

Be present rainbow

Embracing the present moment, so we don’t miss the rainbows

This week I am dedicating my post to a friend. I want to highlight the importance of being in the moment and really appreciating the people you care about.

A friend and colleague recently lost her eight year old son unexpectedly. From the heart-felt stories at his celebration of life services, I learned that Josh was a one-of-a-kind kid, the sweetest, most light-hearted, strong-willed boy you can ever ask for. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree because his mom is an amazing, determined, loving mother who fought for her son to heal since the day he was born. I can’t even begin to imagine the sadness and pain she and her family are facing. My heart is heavy and my spirit dampened as I think of the void they will feel forever. I’ll be sending strength and love their way until that emptiness is filled with beautiful memories of Josh and his short, but highly impactful life.

The services that Josh’s family organized to celebrate his life were breathtaking and uplifting. We will forever remember such a sweet boy and his loving family. During the ceremony, Josh’s dad asked that every person take more time each day to enjoy one another, spend time as a family, embrace each other’s company and live in the moment. Hearing this request from a father who has no more moments with his son was heart-wrenching. Living in the moment is something I work on everyday. My heart breaks and my eyes cloud immediately when even considering living a single moment without my precious son. This father’s request hit me deeply. It’s time that I make every moment count. If not for me, for Josh’s family.

Baby Steps to Embracing the Moments

Here are a few things I’m working on this year to honor Josh’s life, to be present for the moments and embrace the time I have with my own family now. Not tomorrow, but today. I know these are only baby steps to a long journey of transforming how I embrace life going forward. Godspeed Josh.

  1. Scheduling more time for just being together. No plans. Just us.
  2. Breathing. Taking a breath to remind me to be present.
  3. Creating simple meals so there’s less time with Big Bird and more time with me.
  4. Smelling my little guy more. His hair. His little body. I wish I could bottle it.
  5. More hugs. I know as my son gets older this will be tough so for now I’m squeezing him as much as possible.
  6. Taking time during errands to have fun together.
  7. More mental pictures. If I stop and say to myself “remember this moment forever,” it usually makes me stop and be present.
  8. A quick phone pic everyday to remember the little things.

How do you live in the moment and embrace the present? What sort of family rituals allow you to soak up every bit of life we have? Tell us in the comments!

P.S. My friend has set-up a foundation to keep her son’s spirit alive. It will be dedicated to helping animals. You can learn more here.

Moms and heart disease

3856751February, it’s the month of loooovvee and America’s Heart Month – two good reasons to consider the health of your heart, mama.

Like most Americans, I used to think of heart disease as a man’s disease. I often worried my mom may get diabetes or cancer as she aged, but I never really thought about her getting heart disease. But, boy was I misinformed. The statistics for women and heart disease are actually pretty scary. Now that I’m a mom too, these risks are even more important for me to pay to attention to. If I miss the risks and signs of heart disease, I may not be here to see my son grow up. That thought brings me to tears. Sounds dramatic, but when you hear the stats and the surprising signs of risk, you might not think so.

Heart disease is the number #1 killer of women, and is more deadly than all forms of cancer (American Heart Association, AHA)

Heart disease is the third most common cause of death among women ages 25 to 44 years old (Centers for Disease Control)

Since 1984, more women than men have died each year from heart disease (AHA)

90% of all women have one or more risk factors for developing heart disease (AHA)

Read more statistics on the AHA website

What do those stats say to you? They told me to wake up and get my ass back in a regular exercise routine. They also told me to make changes for a healthy heart now, not in 20 years like I previously thought. So, what are the risk factors and what can busy moms like us do about them?

The most common risk factors flagged by doctors include:

  • High total cholesterol
  • High LDL cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • High trigylcerides
  • BMI above normal for your height and weight

By the time you’ve enter a risk category and your doctor flags an issue, it can be too late. Instead use the three simple signs below to understand if you’re at risk.

Simple Signs Your Heart May Be In Danger

1110576Muffin top – You’ve got belly fat. I know it’s hard to get rid of once you’ve had a baby. Our abs will never be quite the same, but belly fat is a bad sign. If you have more than 1-2 inches of belly fat, it’s time to make slow, simple changes to your diet and lifestyle. Thin women with belly fat are more at risk for early death than people who are obese. Read more about these findings here.

Physical Inactivity – If the most rigorous activity you get is pushing your kid on the swing set, listen up. I will be the first to tell you it is very easy to fall into a rut with exercise, especially in the winter. We have little time for work, family and life never mind pilates class. Add childcare to the cost of a yoga class and it’s getting pretty expensive to sweat. On the flipside, only thirty minutes a day of moderate exercise is required to reduce your risk of heart disease by 30-40%!

Sugar cravings – Ask any holistic nutrition expert about sugar cravings and they’ll say if you crave sugar, you’re likely eating too much of it. Pretty much every thing we eat in a package these days has added sugar. Don’t believe me, check out your favorite packaged foods. Some yogurts and tomato sauces have more sugar than Oreos! This excess sugar gets converted to triglycerides which becomes unhealthy fat. Plus sugar has been shown to lower HDL cholesterol, the kind we want to be high for protective health. Read Dr. Mark Hyman’s latest article on sugar causing heart attacks.

If you’re concerned, check out the AHA’s website for an online quiz on assessing your risk of developing heart disease in the next 10 years. In the meantime, commit to adopting as many of the simple tips listed below for improving your heart health today.

Simple Tips to Help Busy Mamas Have a Healthy Heart

  1. Take the stairs
  2. Make walking part of your routine (buy snow/rain outerwear so there’s no excuses!)
  3. Snack on raw nuts, like walnuts, which boost heart hearth
  4. Swap real granola or oatmeal for ready-made-cereals 
  5. Choose packaged foods with no added sugar (or opt for foods with natural sugars like honey or maple syrup)
  6. Eat more veggies
  7. Add in green or black tea to crowd out most sugar-laden morning coffee drinks
  8. Swap in flavored soda water or seltzers for soda
  9. Add simple exercises to your normal routine like squats in the bathroom or crunches during evening television
  10. Work with a health coach to guide you through making small changes that actually fit your family’s lifestyle (Mention this post to receive a 30% off on a single session.)

If you’re at risk, tell us in the comments what steps you’re taking to ensure you’ll be around for your kids and grandkids. 

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5 Simple Tips to Avoid Post Vacation Exhaustion

6508724Sand? Trees? Snow? Whatever you fancy, vacations are supposed to be fabulous. When I have a vacation to look forward to, I just have much more pep in my step. Don’t you? The only problem is all too often, I hear my clients say “I need a vacation from my vacation.” What?! That doesn’t make any sense. Or does it? “Post vacation exhaustion” happens so frequently, maybe we ought to prepare for it and just start scheduling two vacations at a time. (Ha! That’s a joke.) Alternatively, we could do some simple pre-planning to ensure our vacation is in fact rejuvenating & relaxing. Which is exactly what I’ve been doing this week in advance of a short family weekend away for work & play to Asheville, North Carolina (we’re headed to the Gluten Free Expo!).
I’m looking forward to a weekend of no cleaning. And, as much as I LOOOVVE cooking, no cooking as well. But, I don’t want it to be at the expense of feeling junky when I return. Travel can definitely wreak havoc on our systems. But, it doesn’t have to. There are simple things we can do to limit the negative impact of traveling on our families & ourselves. After being a consultant for 10+ years and living on the road 4 out of 5 days a week, I could literally provide days worth of guidance on how to travel healthfully. (I’ll spare you the long guide.) Today, I’ll focus on 5 simple things that I’ve done this week to ensure our work/play weekend away to Asheville is rejuvenating.
1.  Bring healthy food for the air, train or car. Airport & train food is nasty. Yes, there are a few exceptions to this rule. But, overall, the food is junk. It’s laden with sodium, unhealthy & usually not so fresh ingredients. Start your trip with something yummy & healthy so you can be energized for the moments ahead.  (My favorite is veggie sushi w/ brown rice.
13714807022.  Pack healthy, shelf-stable snacks. This is key because these can double as breakfast or even appetizers, if needed. With healthy snacks on hand, you’re sure to avoid any moody blood sugar drops. So, instead of acting like a crazy lady when your spouse is chit chatting with the concierge about who the hell knows what, you can just eat a snack to hold you over before dinner. (Okay so maybe this has happened to me before…)3.  Find at least one healthy restaurant near your hotel. Our family loves food & we always have big plans to enjoy the local cuisine. Like many people, we tend to indulge a wee bit more when on vacation. That’s why, I’ll seek out one healthy restaurant in advance to frequent for breakfasts or a couple of lunches. This balance to indulgence makes a huge difference in your energy during & after your trip.

4.  Pack your walking gear. If you don’t have comfortable shoes to walk or exercise in, then you’re limited to sitting on your ass to enjoy the sites. It took my husband awhile to get this, but now he consistently makes room for sneakers!

5.  Schedule quiet time. This is the tip that I neglected on our last vacation (which is exactly why I need this weekend’s trip, silly mama.) To rejuvenate, our minds & bodies need space to do so. On vacations, we always schedule the fun, but we typically don’t schedule the quiet time. Do it. Do it. It will make your trip soooo much better.

Oh, one more thing (I told you I could just keep going on this subject!). Bring a water bottle that has a filter. Drinking a new water source throws off our systems, but using a filter can minimize this issue. It also makes grabbing water in the hotel or airport bathroom less icky.

What are you favorite tips for having a healthy family vacation? I know you’ve got em’ so please share in the comments section!