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Undervalued. Underestimated. Underappreciated. Overlooked.

Nutrition and post-natal body demands on women are seldom discussed. It's more of an expectation... thrusted into our faces. Shoved down our throats to put it more accurately.

"We are what we eat"

"Food is Medicine"

"Eat the rainbow"

"Exercise is key"

"Whole Foods, Whole Health"

I could go on, but no one cares. And why does no one care? Would you care to figure it out on your own how to incorporate all these wonderful but vague phrases into your daily life without proper guidance? But what about a health professional, like a nutritionist maybe or a health coach? Yes, great idea! Do you have room in your monthly budget to provide you such a luxury? No, but maybe you can research yourself, learn to make the transition to healthy eating, shopping at farmers markets, watching Netflix docs, read every Michael Pollan book, eat less meat and begin homesteading... all while living in the city, working 80 hour weeks and worried about picking up your offspring on time from daycare, all while juggling dinner, bath time, homework help and basic household management, wondering if your partner will have another late night at the office. Can you afford the time it takes to take care of yourself? What does self-care cost you at the end of the day/week/month/year? Who else in your home suffers from your self-sacrifice besides you?

Welcome to the vicious cycle of learning to take care of your adult self. The endless train of intrusive thoughts, emotions and justifiable excuses in deciding that martyrdom is still key to a working mothers survival. I'd apologize for the harshness of my tone, but truly, let's be honest with ourselves, my tone isn't the problem and the only apology needing to be made here is you to yourself. My friend, consider this permission to reevaluate your life and begin making an educated change in releasing your self-sacrificial ways. Step out of the light of martyrdom and come play in the gray with the rest of us "selfish, rebellious" women... let's begin the process of self-care.

Let's start here - socializing. This is a scary word for me. I'd be the first to admit how much I dislike people, mostly because I fear people. To be fair, I prefer to interact with children because they're direct with their motivations and intentions, brutally honest in the most innocent way, and their love is genuine. I respect those tiny terrors. But I'll also admit, albeit reluctantly, that socializing and finding our "tribe" is still essential to daily survival. So I've provided a short list dedicated to the introverted-extroverts as a guided introduction into the world of personal interaction:

  • Fit4Mom: tolerable exercising with baby/toddler in tow via stroller. Yes, there's some talking involved in getting to know the women you're congregating with, but no pressure. You're not there to date or impress anyone. Change your perspective and think of it this way if you find the thought daunting - You may find a person you can share life complaints with. Kind of like gathering with girlfriends around the table, drinking afternoon tea and sharing motherhood hardships - the original therapy session - but instead outdoors and with strollers... not so bad now, am I right? Interaction, exercise without sweating and free therapy - that's worth the price of stepping out the house.

  • Yoga/Pilates Class: no one cares what you look like, although, I will ask you to consider how see-through your yoga pants are (save those for your partner if that's their thing). There's no pressure to converse with anyone. You smile, nod and wave to the people next to you, stay in your mat lane and focus on the instruction. Should anyone speak to you, understand they're in the same boat you're in, came there with an intention to get some "me time", not to complete your friendship application. Just be kind...not nice, kind - there's a difference. You might get a coffee buddy out of it.

  • Storytime (public libraries): This is my inner childs happy place. I love the smell of books, burnt staff coffee in the background and the sense of calm when you walk-in. A place in the United States where forced silence is legal. I get to hear some of my childhood favorites being retold by a matriarch figure, all with the added benefit of my child learning and mildly undisturbed for a blissful 20 minutes. Yes, you'll have to share this time amongst other overcaffeinated and sleep deprived individuals, but isn't that quick glance amongst adults of understanding and compassion soothing to your system?

Next on the list is, of course my favorite topic, food, the real reason why you're here. You consume it, you make body-scrubs and bath bombs from it, you glory it's potential to heal the world. Food in essence is God - worshipped by all though its powers remain underestimated and unscrupulously questioned. I said what I said - fight me on it. But first, shut up a little and listen for a second. Your food consumption is, and will always be, a big deal and should be taken more seriously. But let's not go full tilt from Ree Drummond land to the Michael Pollan zone. You'll never learn good habits that way. Reprogramming is difficult. Be gentle with yourself. Let's go simple and work from there - eat like a toddler. Start with soft foods - purees, yogurts, soups, snacks. I don't care if this is the only change you make for a year. Guess what - you stuck with these changes for a year! You've just built a healthy habit that'll last the rest of your life! Keep going you're doing great! It's only after you've learned to stick with small changes that you can learn to make the larger changes. And do you know why? By incorporating small, daily habits, you've now built new neural pathways. You've essentially recoded your brains programming and reconfigured the motherboard. You've created a space to build and grow inside yourself. Profound isn't it!

So what's the best toddler food you can start with? Well, I thought you'd never ask... here's a list for my fellow Type A's:

  • Yogurt: shop for organic, 100% grass fed. Preferably, no added, processed sugars. Add fruit of choice if you can stand the texture. Feel free to add nuts, seeds and/or granola if that's your thing but no pressure. Eat as dessert, not breakfast... helps alleviate the sweet cravings at night.

  • Purees: there's a plethora of vegetable and fruit puree mix 'n' matches out there. Pick whatever combination floats your boat. I like smoothies for this transition. I'm not great at eating first thing in the morning after waking up. I'll either have a smoothie around 10am if my body can't handle anything heavier or if time doesn't allow for a proper sit-down. But if we're thinking about purees for dinner, think of root vegetables. Add a little sauce on top and protein of choice. Don't beat yourself up because the whole plate isn't up to USDA Nutrition Guidelines...yet. Eat your pommes puree and be thankful you took the time to learn a new skill.

  • Soups and Broths: if you don't have the time to make it from scratch, at the very least, buy one that's semi-good for you, made from organic, pasture raised animals or if you're vegan/vegetarian, dashi is exceptional. Just keep the sodium levels as low as possible. Incorporate a cup of broth to replace a coffee or tea during the day. Yes, those beautiful caffeinated beverages give you the boost you'll need until you crash at 3pm, but the broth will slowly release the vitamins and minerals you'll need to sustain productivity throughout your afternoon. And if you're going the soup route, have a little fun, add the mini-star pastas. Add the carrots, don't add the carrots. No, spinach is not required. Just add the pasta stars to your broth and call it a day.

  • Snacks: I'm a sucker for potato chips. I use them as an afternoon reward for myself when I've gotten through 3/4 of my day without being reactive to the adult shenanigans impeding on my regulatory state. But, I do have a mid-morning snack that's healthier than I'd like to admit. A handful of mixed nuts of my choosing and dried berries with cheese cubes. I don't know why I act as if eating cheese is a guilty little secret. I guess it's more enticing to think of it that way. It's my version of balancing - don't judge me. If you can do better, than good for you. Do better and leave me to my cheese.

By now you're probably wondering what makes me so qualified to tell you what to do, how to eat and why. Quick answer - I'm not. I'm not a doctor. I'm not a nutritionist or dietician. I have an accounting degree from an expensive school, a decade of impressive accounting experience under my belt, an associate degree from a world renowned culinary school that basically upgrades my social title from cook to chef, a list of holistic certifications, and decades of experience as a working mother/caregiver/parental figure. At the end of the day, I'm just another mother that's walked 1,000,000 miles in your shoes. Experienced your daily thoughts, feelings, emotions, victories & failures in parenting and marriage. And finally, our title tie in, being undervalued, underestimated, underappreciated, and overlooked in both the home and workplace environments since it's easier to sacrifice our overall well-being by putting the worlds needs before our own, or at least that's what we've been programmed to think. But what do I know? Life's an experience. You choose your adventure path. Which would you prefer today - martyr or rebel?

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