Health
We have some AMAZING new recipes being added to the Healthy Mummy App for the May 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge which starts on May 3rd 2021!

As we head into the cooler months, and with a mix of snacks, main dishes and desserts, these new Autumnal recipes will keep things exciting and new as you get on top of your health and weight loss goals.

They’ll be 20 new recipes added to the Healthy  Mummy App in May, 5 new every week. Not only that, we have a brand new No Equipment Workout Program with Joanne, also coming to the App in May! Find out more about the No Equipment Workouts here!

Check out these NEW delicious Recipes on the May 21 Challenge!

1. Warming Wonton Soup – 252 calories

This soup really is food for the soul! It’s so easy to make and you can get it on the table in less than 15 minutes!

Get the recipe here

2. Salmon, Tomato & Canneloni Beans -417 calories

The perfect mid-week meal, that is satisfying as the evenings get cooler and packs a flavour punch!

Get the recipe here

3.Cafe Style Smashed Avocado – 324 calories

No need to spend heaps at your local trendy cafe when you can knock up this delicious breakfast in no time.

Get the recipe here

4. Hot Chocolate on a Stick – 201 calories

OMG! How good do these look? Decadent blocks of chocolatey goodness to dissolve in a warm cup of milk. YUM!

Get the recipe here

Join thousands of mums on the MUMS ONLY Challenge

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Join the thousands of mums on the 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge tackling and ACHIEVING their weight loss goals.

Whether you have 5 kilograms to lose or 35 kilograms to lose – The Healthy Mummy is here to SUPPORT YOU and your PERSONAL WEIGHT LOSS JOURNEY.

To find out more on the 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge click here.

 

 

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Recipes
No need to break the bank on overpriced smashed avo at the local cafe when you can easily create this tasty breakfast or snack at home.  With a delicate mix of flavours from the salty feta, creamy avo and sweet tomatoes, this recipe from the 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge is quick and easy to whip and will save you time and money!

Tips for the perfectly smashing avocado

  1. Make sure your avo is ripe: Underripe avo is not good!  It’s best soft but not bruised. You can test the ripeness by gently pressing the stem, if it easily depresses, it’s perfect and ready to go.
  2. Don’t over smash: It’s best to lightly smash, not completely mash to a puree.
  3. Season well: Be sure to bring out the best in the avo with the pepper. A squeeze of lemon or chilli is another option to make your avo sing.

Print Recipe

Cafe Styled Smashed Avocado

Ingredients

  • 1 slice wholemeal bread
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 2 tbsp reduced fat feta
  • 1/2 tsp Pepper
  • 4 cherry tomatos halved
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Ingredients

  • 1 slice wholemeal bread
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 2 tbsp reduced fat feta
  • 1/2 tsp Pepper
  • 4 cherry tomatos halved
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl roughly mash avocado, feta and pepper until just combined.

  2. Add cherry tomatoes and mix.

  3. Spread avocado mix on hot toast and drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Serve immediately.

Get over 4,500 recipes on the 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge!

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Love the sound of this delicious recipe? Want access to thousands and thousands MORE healthy recipes just like it? Then be sure to check out our 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge.

Our 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge is a family-friendly, breastfeeding-safe program designed FOR MUMS to help them tackle their health and lose the baby weight. 

Every week you are given a different meal plan to follow and each month we NEW recipes to our Healthy Mummy App. That way, you’ll never get bored and stay on weight loss track while digging into healthy, yummy recipes.

Learn more about our 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge HERE.

 

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When you’re feeling heavy or unhealthy, it’s easy to feel resentful towards your body. So many people believe their problems will go away if they lose weight. They believe they may feel less depressed or will become more confident if they shed the kilos.

However, Healthy Mummy Super Coach Cicily Goodwin, who has lost 56kg through the 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge, says a negative attitude towards your body could be the reason you’re struggling to fit into your jeans.

It’s important to actually LOVE your body, even if it’s not how you want to look. By loving your body, you’re actually saying to yourself that you want to take care of yourself and make better health-related decisions. And that’s important to any healthy lifestyle overhaul…

Cicily admits she was critical about her body when she was 128kg

‘I started my Healthy Mummy journey at 128kgs. Being a size 24, I was often critical about my body and felt quite negatively about myself.

But I knew in order to change my life I needed to change my mindset. So I took it upon myself to start a journey of self love and began to fall in love with myself by doing a few things differently.”

Cicily has lost 56kg and reveals EXACTLY what she eats each day for a weekCicily has lost 56kg and reveals EXACTLY what she eats each day for a week

Cicily’s top tips to start loving your body at every step of your journey

1. Stop talking negatively about yourself.

“Calling yourself fat isn’t helping! It’s time to leave those toxic words in the past and start appreciating what YOUR body can do.”

2. Start thanking your body every day for all the things it has done for you

“Birthing your beautiful babies, allowing you to move around and carry out your life. Keeping you healthy.”

3. Dress to make yourself feel better

“You don’t have to go out and buy yourself nice, expensive clothes! You can just do your hair nice to wear your favourite outfit a bit more often.

If you’re living in black tights and a baggy t shirt, go and find a beautiful colourful dress that accentuates your body shape! It will help make you feel better.

Add in other things that make you feel beautiful. Get a new haircut or change the colour, go get your nails done or any beauty treatments you’ve been wanting to try, I’m a sucker for eyelash extensions! But find whatever it is that makes you look in the mirror everyday and feel proud.”

4. Focus on your favourite body parts

“Have a good look at your body, what’s your favourite part? Focus on that.”

5. ‘Beautiful’ or ‘healthy’ doesn’t mean you have to be skinny

“You don’t need to be a size 0 to be beautiful! Some curvy women, like Marilyn Monroe or Sofia Vergara, are among the most beautiful in the world and they aren’t super skinny. You are who you are and you can be beautiful and healthy at a size 12 or 14. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself.”

Cicily reveals why it's so IMPORTANT to LOVE your body, even if you want to lose weight

Cicily reveals why it's so IMPORTANT to LOVE your body, even if you want to lose weight

6. Tell yourself you are beautiful often

“Fake it ‘til you make it! If you don’t love the way you look right now, it’s okay! But start telling yourself that you do, every day look in the mirror and say ‘You are beautiful!’, ‘I am on my journey to a healthier me’, ‘I will nourish my body with the best foods to help it thrive and transform’.

7. Accept who you are and what you’ve done

“Accept that whatever you’ve done or eaten in the past is just that, the past! You are now taking control of your body and giving it everything in needs, and in return your body will give you everything that YOU need. Focus on what you can do TODAY to support your body’s needs.”

Cicily reveals why it's so IMPORTANT to LOVE your body, even if you want to lose weightCicily reveals why it's so IMPORTANT to LOVE your body, even if you want to lose weight

“I can honestly tell you, you will get sooo much further by loving your body than you will from hating it, so leave those negative thoughts at the door and start to change the way you talk and feel about your body.

It’s okay if you don’t feel it straight away, but if you keep up with these good habits, you CAN fall in love with yourself, you don’t have to wait until you reach your goal to do it!”

Cicily’s 56kg weight loss story

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The mum-of-two from Nambucca Heads reveals she struggled with hypothyroidism and often didn’t see the results of her hard-work. But that all changed when she signed up to the 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge!

“I used to blame my problems on others, now I realise I was just unhappy in myself but in too much denial to see it,” says Cicily.

cicily before and after

cicily before and after

Cicily reveals she used to buy maternity clothes when she was at her heaviest.

“I used to buy maternity clothes just because they were stretchy and forgiving. Now I can buy tight denim,” she says. “I used to buy daggy undies, now I buy whatever I want because it all comes in my size.

“I used to wear size 24 tights, now I can fit both of my legs in one leg hole.”

Cicily weight loss

Cicily weight loss

What’s more,  Cicily states that the 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge is not a diet but a lifestyle change!

“I’ve lost a lot of weight with The Healthy Mummy. I cannot recommend it enough. It’s a new world. But that’s not the great part about it,” says Cicily. 

“It’s not the number on the scales that makes me happy…it’s walking past a mirror and not hating what I see!”

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Cicily-Goodwin-299

Join Cicily on the 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge!

28 Day challenge

28 Day challenge

With more than 4,000 delicious (and healthy) recipes, 350 exercises & 24/7 support – the 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge  is designed (and proven) to help busy mums like you lose weight!

To learn more about our challenge OR to join – click here.

To learn more about our products – head to our Healthy Mummy Shop.

Lisa lost 55 pounds with healthy food and exercise. After her thyroid was removed due to thyroid cancer, losing the pounds got even more challenging. In 2014, she started taking steps to transform her life and her eating habits. At 51 years old, she is thriving and encouraging people to embrace healthy habits. 

Lisa lost 55 pounds

There is a poem that perfectly describes my health journey. It’s called a “Beautiful Mess.” This is ME. I looked cute but felt like a huge mess. 

In 2008, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and underwent a complete thyroidectomy. Losing my thyroid set my weight challenge into overdrive. In 2014, seeing a photo taken during a girlfriend’s birthday celebration in Florida changed my WHOLE life. I couldn’t believe it was ME. 

I’ve been on this journey for seven years. I’ve had ups and downs. I can honestly say that I finally figured out what works and what doesn’t work for me. I enjoy this lifestyle, even the challenges. I’m still a work in progress, especially now that I’m 51 years mature, Lol. I purposely use every day to encourage someone to live a healthier lifestyle at all levels. I do this in my walking group, called SOLE2SOLE, and my fitness groups. Getting healthy to stay healthy is my goal! 

Lisa lost 55 pounds

How did you change your eating habits?
In the beginning, my eating habits were horrible. I didn’t eat. I basically starved myself. Then I tried different plans, from Weight Watchers to Nutrisystem. Next, I got a nutritionist who created a healthy diet for me. It worked for a few months, but then my non-metabolism body caught on. 

It took a couple of years to figure out how to trick my body into burning fat. Since 2017 I have done just that. I detox with JJ Smith’s green smoothies for two weeks every other month, followed by a meal plan which usually consists of Keto foods or micronutrients.

Tell us about your workout routine.
I love working out now. However, it was a struggle in the beginning. I would sleep in my workout clothes to motivate myself. I tend to work out 5-6 times a week. I do mostly strength training, HIIT, and cardio.

What was your starting weight? What is your current weight?
My starting weight was 215 pounds, and today I weigh 160 pounds. My goal weight is 150 pounds.  

What is your height?
My height is 5″5.

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far?
Through the ups and downs, I think the biggest lesson has been never be ashamed to hit the RESTART BUTTON.  

What advice would you like to share with women who want to lose weight?
It’s okay to have a cheat “meal,” not a cheat day. I permit myself a cheat meal every 14 days.

Is weight loss surgery part of your journey?
Although I haven’t had weight loss surgery, I am considering a tummy tuck to remove the remaining loose fat around my abdomen. After four pregnancies and two c-sections, it’s my least favorite area. With it, it’s hard to achieve my desired look.

Instagram: @Lisaasil70

Lisa before and after weight loss
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Elizabeth Swan decided it was time she put herself first. The Victoria-based mum actually credits the shake-up of her working conditions during the global pandemic for helping her jump on the healthy bandwagon and sign up to the 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge.

Amazingly, she’s lost 16kg and 100 cm in body measurements. She’s also dropped three dress sizes!

How Elizabeth dropped 16kg and went down 3 dress sizes

Mum-of-one Elizabeth, 42, admits that after Christmas 2019, she felt like it was time to start thinking about what she was eating.

“I had spent that year not caring about what was putting in my mouth, wasn’t moving my body,” she says.

“I knew that my overall health required me to start eating healthy and exercising, but I needed it to be with a long-term outlook, not a diet as that hadn’t lasted for me in the past.”

How this mum made her face look years younger WITHOUT any surgery!

How this mum made her face look years younger WITHOUT any surgery!

At the time, Elizabeth was a size 20 and wanted to find a program that would work for her, that’s when she found The Healthy Mummy.

“I also did not want to have to buy clothes in a size 20 which is where I was heading at the time. I then started researching for a program that would fit into my solo-parenting, almost full-time working lifestyle that wasn’t going to feel restrictive and therefore I wouldn’t stick to,” she says.

“Then I found The Healthy Mummy. I joined up on a special lifetime membership deal, started slowly, just exercising when I could fit it in from the app exercises and just following the meal plans for all meals and snacks except dinners.”

How Covid helped Elizabeth find more time to get in shape

Then Covid hit and Elizabeth began working from home, which meant she had two more hours a day, without having to commute, to get into a routine of exercising six mornings a week and I started adjusting dinners to The Healthy Mummy meal plan as well.

“Other than a few weeks since then, I have kept up that routine every week,” she says. “I still have takeaway (or fakeaway) and drinks on Friday nights and although my progress has slowed in 2021, I was never after a quick fix, my motto really is ‘progress, not perfection’ so I’m happy that I’m still keeping to this new lifestyle that is making me my healthiest self for me and my son.”

Elizabeth now has fewer migraines

Before discovering The Healthy Mummy, the gorgeous mum reveals she suffered from frequent migraines but since then, they have become less regular. She says she’s also able to keep up with her son now!

“My clothes that used to be tight/didn’t fit are now loose, I have physical definition in my abs, arms and thighs slowly coming through,” she says.

“Mentally, I don’t sweat the small stuff as much anymore and although my body confidence wasn’t too bad before, I feel so much more confident in my own skin and I feel like I’m really oozing confidence in my career more now as well, coming out of my shell and taking the lead on things more. To sum it up I feel like I’ve become a #fitbossmum.”

How this mum made her face look years younger WITHOUT any surgery!

How this mum made her face look years younger WITHOUT any surgery!

What Elizabeth eats for success

Each week I try to mix it up!

Breakfast

I’ll either have a granola type bowl like peanut butter granola or an egg based dish like feta scrambled eggs or a smoothie.

Lunch

It can be anything from a soup like the Root Vegetable Soup from the Healthy Mummy App, to a poke style dish like the Ginger Chicken Rice Bowl or just a simple ham n cheese toastie.

Snacks

These can be simply apple with peanut butter, or something I’ve bulk baked/cooked like Banana Cake or Choc Chip Banana Bread.

Dinner

All of the pizzas like spinach and ricotta as well as Mexican Pork Fajita, Beef Burritos and Chicken Parmigiana.

Desserts

They are usually things like Apple Pie Mug Cake or a yoghurt dish like Mango Yoghurt with sweet macadamia crumbs.

Workouts

I’ve tried many of the workouts, but my favourites are Boxing with Laura – especially the lives from October 2020! Also I love the stronger advanced with Natalia and don’t mind a bit of the dance cardio with Jade

Other Healthy Mummy products Elizabeth uses

It’s not just the Challenge app that helps Elizabeth stay healthy, she reveals she is also a big fan of The Healthy Mummy Smoothies and Protein Powder.

She says, “I have a smoothie for breakfast from time to time, I have the original Caramel and the Tummy Smoothie (vanilla) flavours – my favourite smoothie recipe is the date caramel smoothie!

“I’ve used the Protein Powder to boost smoothies/smoothie bowls, the Vitamin C/Zinc Boost as a refreshing afternoon drink especially in hot weather.

“I also now use The Healthy Mummy Skin products – the Pink Clay Mask once a week or fortnight, the Revive Face Oil almost every night, and the Superfood Serum almost every morning.”

Elizabeth’s tips for other mums who want success

How this mum made her face look years younger WITHOUT any surgery!How this mum made her face look years younger WITHOUT any surgery!

1. Get into a routine

Work it around your lifestyle. For me, I can’t get to a gym and need to exercise early mornings or else it doesn’t get done so that’s what I started doing – my workout is done before my son is up and then my day can’t talk me out of it!

2. Track your days on the app

Make a record of everything from water, food and exercise. I try to do daily diary posts on my local HM consultant FB group (for me that’s Cassie McKay) to keep myself accountable!

3. Mix it up with the recipes so it doesn’t get boring

I’ve made it a weekly goal that at least 1 recipe I make each week is new to me – invariably I try more than just 1 new recipe and sometimes you find something you thought you might not like actually end up being on your favourites list!

4. Get back into it ASAP after falling off the wagon

If you seem to have a ‘bad’ day – there’s no such thing – this is meant to be a lifestyle, 1 day of not following your calories or not moving your body is not going to undo your hard work, just enjoy those relaxed eating/rest days and get back into it again the next day or when you get back from holiday. Don’t punish yourself for not following things strictly 24/7!

It’s all about progression not perfection!

Want to get in the best shape of your life? Join the 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge TODAY!

 

Think of the 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge as the best value personal trainer, dietitian, meal planner, chef and motivational coach with DAILY support – that you have access to every day – without the high cost and all created JUST FOR MUMS.

Each month is DIFFERENT on the 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge. EVERY MONTH you receive NEW 28 Days of FAMILY FRIENDLY customisable meal plans, daily exercise plans with videos and daily support. It’s also breastfeeding friendly.

Join the 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge today!

Somehow we have already experienced an entire month with our precious Levi. In one sense, I can’t believe it’s been a whole month, and in another, it feels like I gave birth a lifetime ago. Any parent of young children understands that paradox. The days are never-ending but the months and years fly by. As exhausting as these newborn days are, I know how fleeting, how brief, they really are. I know that I’ll be looking back in 20 years—which will feel like 20 minutes—and they will have been the best years of my life. I miss them already.

I’m thankful to be able to say that Levi’s birth was much less eventful (is traumatic too strong a word here?) than James’s was, but even still, labor and delivery are wild. They’re transformative, magical, brutal events. So, without a moment more preamble, here is the story of how I gave birth to the newest love of my life.

In the last few weeks of my pregnancy, I was beyond uncomfortable, so I was really hoping to deliver by my due date. But both of my boys seem to like hanging out in mom’s tummy for as long as possible. They’re comfy cozy in there, and given the state of the world, I can’t blame them. I had an ultrasound appointment at my doctor’s office when I was 40 weeks and 5 days. Ultrasounds have been really tough on my anxiety ever since my miscarriage and I had a cyst on my placenta this time around so when the doctor said my amniotic fluid appeared low, I started to worry. It was low but not critical so she said we would schedule the induction for the following day. But as I drove away from the office, she called and told me to head straight to the hospital.

First, I was supposed to get a Covid test at a site near the doctor’s office so I called Daniel on my way there. He scrambled to arrange child care for James. His sister was on standby but lives over an hour away and we were supposed to be at the hospital within an hour. He called my step dad, who was working from home, and he was kind enough to come over right away. But then my mom found out what was going on and left work immediately to fly over.

We got to the hospital a few minutes late but I was so hungry so we stopped in the cafeteria first. I had a chicken caesar wrap and then we went right upstairs to check in. It was my first time going “out to eat” in over six months.

We started with a pitocin test to see if the baby would handle the induction. One of my least favorite aspects of being induced is being strapped to all the monitors. When I’m pregnant I have to pee every 30-45 minutes and always get so embarrassed asking the nurse to help me remove all the cords. I’m just slightly uncomfortable the whole time. The baby was handling it well so we started cytotec at 6:30 pm when I was 1.5cm dilated.

My first night of induction (yes there was more than one sadly) went ok. I had a chicken pot pie for dinner from the hospital room service which my mom found hilarious when I told her on the phone. She couldn’t believe I wanted a heavy meal like that but having something hearty sounded good. Daniel and I watched some pregnancy themed movies on his laptop. We started with Baby Mama which held up and was really fun and then we watched Due Date which wasn’t nearly as good. I tried to get some rest but Daniel only had a chair because we weren’t in a delivery room yet, just an observation room so he was up most of the night.

We were moved to a delivery room the next morning and continued with the cytotec. Not much was happening so they suggested a foley balloon. I think I’m someone who handles pain pretty well but I found it really difficult. About an hour later when I was peeing for the hundredth time, the foley balloon fell out which suggested I was coming along. At my next cervical check the doctor stripped my membranes, which was just a horrific experience. I found it so excruciatingly painful and she just kept going even though I wanted it to stop. I was only 3cm dilated at this point.

I started to get really scared. My experience with James was such a difficult ordeal that left me with some trauma about delivery. I began to wish I just was having a C section than going through everything again. Our nurse was really reassuring and we decided to start pitocin in the afternoon. That afternoon we watched Friends and some Darcey and Stacey on TV. The pitocin was gradually increasing but I didn’t feel much yet. Just mild discomfort. They started to increase in intensity in the evening.

Anyone who has given birth knows that your experience depends heavily on your nurse. The doctors pop in every few hours but the nurse is who you mostly see. I didn’t really feel like I had a good vibe with our nurse on the night shift the night before. She wasn’t as warm as I’d like. So I was disappointed when I had the same nurse when my labor started to really kick in. But I realized something important. During labor, being warm isn’t as important as being competent and reassuring. She turned out to be the perfect nurse for labor, while my other nurse was perfect for pre labor.

I was in a lot of pain by 9pm. I didn’t want the epidural too early because I was worried it would slow things down too much. I asked my nurse about the right timing and she told me I’d know when the time is right. If I wasn’t sure, it probably wasn’t the right time. I found that answer really annoying at first but again, it turned out she was right.

I decided I would try to make it 10 more minutes then decide, at the end of the 10 minutes I’d see if I could last ten more. I made it 30 minutes and then decided to cut the time limit to 5. After 35 minutes, I knew it was time. The anesthesiologist came in and like everything with me and labor, it didn’t go smoothly but ended up ok. He had some trouble placing it and had to call for help. My lower back is always sensitive and it was hard for me to hold in the right position especially because he was giving confusing instructions. He kept telling me to “fold my back like an accordion” then I’d try it and he’d say louder “No, like an ACCORDION.” Daniel tells me to move my back like an accordion about once a day now. My wonderful nurse told me all about her life and kids while they were trying to put it in to take my mind off it. And Daniel’s attention was mostly focused on the Celtics playoff game but I did catch a glimpse of his horrified face when he was looking at what they were doing. He promptly followed with a big smile and thumbs up. After the epidural I went to sleep.

I woke up at about 6am with the most INTENSE pressure. My first thought was that my bladder was about to explode (at our hospital they don’t give you a catheter that stays in; they insert a catheter and empty your bladder every 3 or so hours). I didn’t know what to do. My nurse came in, emptied my bladder, but the pressure didn’t let up. She checked my cervix and sure enough, I was at 10cm, ready to go. I was surprised by how uncomfortable the urge to push was. It’s a sensation of I NEED TO PUSH NOOOOWWW and I can’t wait a second longer but also this thing is way too big to push out of my body. She immediately called for the doctor but he wasn’t available so a resident came in. He was a young ER doctor doing a delivery rotation that night. He had never delivered a baby, great. I couldn’t wait. I was about to disobey the orders and just start pushing on my own when I looked over and saw Daniel brushing his teeth. At the time it seemed pretty crazy but he assures me his breath was really bad.

I pushed once and saw that the doctor looked more scared than me. I think my nurse noticed and she called for some reinforcements. The charge nurse came running in for my second push. And then the OB came in. He put on one glove as he was getting in position, and as he was putting on his second glove I pushed with all my might and WHOOSH he was out. I heard a big, hearty cry as my perfect little Levi came rushing out onto the bed. The doctor quickly scooped him up, placed him on my chest, and the whole world changed. My body tingled from my head to my toes, my heart was in my throat. I looked at Daniel, with tears in his eyes. Oh Levi, here you are, I thought. The newest, freshest love of my life. I love youuu, I told him seven hundred thousand times in a row. Eight pounds five ounces of pure, gorgeous love. And then, he pooped all over me.

In the month since, there’s been a lot more poop—and I mean a lot—but there’s been even more love.

I’m so happy he’s mine 🙂

Choosing the perfect gift for someone special can be difficult, to say the least. I’m always looking for new and different ideas, especially for the women in my life. So if you want a little inspiration for the holidays 2020, here are some of my favorite things!

*Note: This post is not sponsored in any way. Everything you see here is something I either bought myself or was gifted by my mom/best friend. Some of the links are affiliate links.

UGG Ansley Slippers $99
Every morning and evening when I slip my feet into these comfy, supportive, shearling-lined moccasins, I sigh with relief and thank my mother (silently) for gifting them to me three Christmases ago.

Silk pillowcase $45
Sleeping on a silk pillowcase is said to be better for your hair and your skin (I know people who travel with theirs). But it’s one of those things I always hesitate to buy for myself—which is one of the criteria I use to determine if it’s a good gift for someone I love.

Turbie Twist microfiber hair towel $7.99
Last year my mom gave me a Turbie Twist, just…out of the blue. I didn’t expect much, in fact, I laughed when I saw it—but it has quickly become an everyday essential. It dries my hair in no time and dries itself even faster (no damp towels here).

Jigsaw Puzzles
We need all the indoor activities we can get, which is why puzzles are such a hit in 2020. These three are pleasantly challenging and absolutely beautiful.
Piecework Rise and Shine Puzzle $36
Areaware Gradient Puzzle $20
Gray Malin Two Sided Beach Puzzle $25

Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray $40
I’m not overstating things to say that this is a holy grail product for every person who wants full hair with unbelievable body and volume. It’s just a bonus that it happens to smell amazing, too.

Olive and June The Mani System $50
All the tools you need for perfect nails at home, plus a polish of your choice and their super glossy top coat. Olive and June’s long-lasting polish is also 7 free: formulated without Dibutyl phthalate (DBP), Toluene, Formaldehyde, Formaldehyde resin, Camphor, Ethyl tosylamide, Xylene.

Skinceuticals CE Ferulic $166
Years ago I went to the dermatologist for a skin check (always watching out for skin cancer) and after I got the all-clear I asked her, “What is the one product you’d recommend for anti-aging?” Without hesitation, she said, “Skinceuticals CE Ferulic.” I thanked her, wrote down the name, went home, and looked it up online. Turns out there are countless other dermatologists, estheticians, and skincare-obsessed folks who swear by it, too. It’s pricey but with that kind of cult following, it might be worth it.

Revlon One-Step Hair Dryer And Volumizer Hot Air Brush $42
Every person that blow dries their hair with some regularity has cursed the process a time or two and wished—prayed—for an easier way. Well this might be the way. When I saw there were just shy of 99,000 (99,000 I said!) reviews and 4.5 stars on Amazon, I added two to my cart immediately (one for my mom, one for me).

Untamed $17
I adore Glennon Doyle and was blown away by her newest memoir, Untamed. It was funny, raw, utterly compelling, and full of moments of self reflection for me. I’d recommend it to anyone, but especially the women in your life.

Johanna Howard ‘100% That Girl’ candle $24
“You took a DNA test and it said you were strong, smart, caring and fearless.” This hand-poured candle is scented with lavender, sage, and rosemary, and according to the website, it’s made from a proprietary blend of coconut and soy wax, with a cotton core wick and phthalate-free fragrance oils to create an environmentally friendly, long-burning, wonderful smelling candle.

Cavo ‘After A Good Cry’ candle $24
This 100% organic soy wax candle from Cavo is said to smell like a hug (Rainwater + Lavender + Vanilla Bean + Bourbon) and comes with its very own playlist.

Magnolia Bakery Banana Pudding $56
When I was pregnant last summer, I casually mentioned to my best friend how good a big ol’ bowl of banana pudding from Magnolia Bakery in NYC sounded. Days later, I had a party-sized tub of it on my doorstep and I was in heaven…and then in a food coma. Here’s where you can order it as a gift, too.

Cookbooks ~$20
It’s safe to say we’re all cooking more this year, so now is the time to invest in cookbooks—for ourselves and the ones we love. Here are my recent favorites:

Two Peas & Their Pod Cookbook: Favorite Everyday Recipes from Our Family Kitchen

Skinnytaste Meal Prep: Healthy Make-Ahead Meals and Freezer Recipes to Simplify Your Life

Holy Sweet!: 60 Indulgent Recipes for Bigger, Better Desserts

The Pretty Dish: More than 150 Everyday Recipes and 50 Beauty DIYs to Nourish Your Body Inside and Out

The Well Plated Cookbook: Fast, Healthy Recipes You’ll Want to Eat

Modern Comfort Food: A Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

We won’t be celebrating Thanksgiving with all of our extended family and friends this year, but I’m still looking forward to it. We have so much to be thankful for, even in all of the madness of 2020. Daniel and I celebrated a few Thanksgivings with just the two of us when we lived on the other side of the country and those are some of my favorite holiday memories. We’ll be spending this Thanksgiving day with our parents and that’ll be enough 🙂

I wrote a post with some tips on celebrating holidays without family based on my experience. It’s depressing and frustrating that I originally wrote that for Easter and it’s still relevant now.

I hope everyone has a small, safe, and happy holiday!

A few good reads:

There have been a bunch of celebrity sightings in Central Park recently. Barry the Barred Owl has captured everyone’s attention. “He’s a great looking owl.”

There finally seems to be a solution to the foggy glasses problem: putting a bandaid over the mask.

A fascinating look at spider silk, which is stronger than kevlar.

It turns out computers judge women based on their appearance too. The top label from Google’s image recognition service was “official” for men politicians and “smile” for women. A troubling look at bias in AI.

For the first two weeks of Levi’s life, Daniel and I looked at each other, shook our heads in disbelief, and said, “Now THIS is an easy baby.” We remembered how hard it was when James was a newborn. He was perfect in every way and we loved him like crazy…but he never slept. I remember friends and family would visit and ask, “So is he just sleeping ‘round the clock?” No, nooo, I’d say, not even close. James came out of the birth canal wide awake and ready to see the sites of life. But Levi—Levi didn’t even open his eyes for the first two days. He didn’t fuss, didn’t seem to need much at all—he just slept. He didn’t even cry in the car, like James always had. Daniel and I were so surprised, so happily, happily surprised. Relieved even! By the time he was a week and a half, still a sleepy little lamb, we really thought we had it made in the shade. Sure he projectile vomited every day, but his brother spit up all the time, too, and as with any symptom you google, it could be normal (or an immediate medical emergency…but probably normal…). And then.

Right around the two-and-a-half-week mark, it all changed. Levi was awake—and he wasn’t happy about it. It was like he wanted nothing more than to sleep but he just couldn’t bring himself to do it. He’d start to drift off and then his body would fight desperately to hold on to alertness. It was like we were witnessing his mind and his body wrestle. Suddenly he could not sleep unless he was in our arms, which wasn’t that out of the norm for us, since James wanted to be held, too. He was a newborn after all. But the holding became more and more of a constant, urgent need. He began crying uncontrollably, inconsolable for most of the day, every day. He’d pull his legs up to his chest and writhe in discomfort. The projectile vomiting continued. Nothing soothed him.

So we changed formulas, to something gentler. It took half a week—maybe more—to take effect, but slowly he stopped throwing up. He seemed to be in less discomfort after he ate. But the crying didn’t stop. We went to the doctor for his one month well visit. We love our pediatrician. She’s been our doctor for the past two years with James. And when Daniel told her all that was happening with Levi she nodded, understanding, and said, “It sounds to me like classic colic.”

Colic.

I can’t tell you how many times I found myself, at 3am, googling, “How to tell if my baby has colic.” In my family, colic is talked about like a living nightmare, like a disease you pray you don’t get. My brother was colicky. My niece, too. This cousin, that cousin, so-and-so’s sister’s son. Colic is what I feared.

And yet, hearing the pediatrician say it was oddly calming. Validating. It relieved me to know that likely nothing more was the matter with our baby. For a week I’d asked Daniel repeatedly, “What if he has something wrong? Like really wrong.” We wondered. And of course, there is always worse. So when the doctor said colic, I was reassured that no, fortunately, it wasn’t worse. It was just a challenge that we’d make it through. She told us it tends to last 3 or 4 months, that it usually peaks at 6 weeks, that there are a lot of things people will recommend trying, but from her experience, sometimes babies just, well, cry for 3…maybe 6…months.

We started giving him a probiotic and these colic drops that stain everything I own. I have discovered that everything I own is light colored. I don’t know if either works because he’s still crying, but one thing they do do, is make me feel like I’m trying. And that’s something.

The one thing that seems to help is bouncing him on the exercise ball. He likes to be cradled and bounced vigorously. He still might fuss and cry a little but the screaming usually stops. We have an upstairs ball and a downstairs ball and my vertebrae are smashed to dust, but at least there is something we can do.

Daniel and I are essentially passing him back and forth between us, holding him and bouncing him for almost all of his sleep because if we don’t (and we’ve tried), he will cry to seemingly no end. Daniel takes the first shift of the night, until 3am, and then I get up with him. On a good day, Levi will do one period of sleep of 2-3 hours at the beginning of the night, which is an improvement from a month ago.

Overall he is trending in a better direction. He has less periods of intense crying and more ability to de escalate. But Christmas Eve was a low point. We were at my parents and didn’t have the precious exercise ball, so when he started to get upset, he couldn’t stop. We tried walking, running, jumping, rocking, but nothing could calm him so we had to leave early and the heartbreaking ride home with one son screaming and the other blocking his ears and quietly singing to himself was a low point in this parenting experience.

So as it turns out, colic is a living nightmare. That’s the way it feels. It’s impossible to imagine how stressful it is without experiencing it, and I know that now. The shrieking and crying, the powerless feeling of not being able to soothe your precious tiny baby, the 24 hours a day of it and not knowing if or when it will end…it’s hard. It’s isolating. I’ve talked to other moms who have been diagnosed as having PTSD after going through particularly bad colic, and I can understand why.

It might be a bit easier if we weren’t also trying to care for and engage with a two-year-old, or if we weren’t in a pandemic where no one can really come over and help or just distract us from the crying, but hey, nobody said it would be easy. And really, it’s all going to be OK. All of this is survivable. If nothing else, it brings Daniel and me even closer. There’s not a day that goes by where I don’t look at him and think, oh thank God for you.

We’re still hanging in there, living fiercely in the present moment, one moment at a time, and not thinking ahead because that only creates anxiety. We’re tired. Sometimes it feels like my body is pumping out adrenaline and cortisol nonstop. I have had some incredibly low moments where I really feel incapable of being a mom in this situation, at least the kind of mom I want to be. I wish I had endless patience and compassion but there are times where I just can’t take the screaming anymore and hand him off to Daniel and head to the basement and cry. But as bad as it is, I’m not hopeless. I think things are improving. It’s the gift of the second child: knowing that nothing lasts forever. And listen, there’s still a whole lotta joy around here. This is what it is to be a parent. I will do anything—everything—for these tiny, unbelievably lovable beings we made, even if that means I lose sleep and many, many brain cells in the process 🙂

Disease, Wise Nutrition Helpful Advice.

 

Disease, Health Risk Factors.

 

My Activity:

 

Activity is important to maintain a healthy body. When you are not sleeping your body was designed to be almost continually active.

If you immobilize a limb for just three hours, it starts to degenerate. That’s why even during sleep you automatically flex and stretch; turn more than a hundred times in one night. Inactivity is deadly!

You can read this in a report by Dr. Walter Bortz in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1982.

He reviewed over a hundred studies showing that the sedentary lifestyle developed; in the last 50 years in America causes widespread bodily damage.

This damage occurs independently of other health risk factors, like smoking, alcohol, fat, age, and family history of the disease.

 

 

Here follow some of his findings:

 

By itself, simple inactivity causes a chain reaction of cardiovascular decay. First, it reduces vital capacity.

That means, sitting like a slug reduces your ability to take up and use oxygen. As a result, muscles, organs, and the brain become partially oxygen-deprived.

In addition, inactivity reduces cardiac output, that is, the ability of your heart to pump blood around the body.

So, the tissues of couch potatoes become double deprived. They get less oxygen and less blood and the essential nutrients the blood contains.

To make up these deficits, your body constricts arteries, thereby raising blood pressure.

This arterial constriction on top of a weakened heart not only increases the risk of clots and stroke.

But also makes your cardiovascular system less able to respond to sudden movement or changes of position.

Consequently, sedentary folk often suffer dizziness; on standing, because the impaired system cannot instantly increase blood flow to the brain.

Wish any sudden movements they are prone to falls and accidents because the restricted system of blood flow cannot respond efficiently.

 

 

One of the most interesting studies.

 

This shows that more sedentary people than active people are hit and killed in traffic accidents.

Because their weakened cardiovascular systems make them incapable of performing. The nimble moves required to avoid oncoming traffic, without becoming dizzy and staggering or falling in the process.

Inactivity also increases levels of cholesterol and triglycerides. Triglycerides are the fats you store, and we know that inactivity makes you fat.

Inactive muscles shrink, compromising your ability to burn fat, to perform even simple tasks, like running upstairs, and even to hold up your skeleton.

Bones also thin and weaken, because your skeleton requires continuous resistance exercise in order to grow a new bone matrix.

 

 

Inactivity:

 

A combination of inactivity and poor bone nutrition is the major cause of the epidemic of osteoporosis. Now burdening America – another man-made entirely preventable disease.

Inactivity also disrupts bowel function and disorders of glucose metabolism, independently of whatever food you eat.

The near epidemics of intestinal disorders and adult-onset diabetes in America bear mute testimony to our slug lifestyle.

Sex hormone levels also decline with inactivity, now linked to the huge increase in impotence in America.

The evidence is overwhelming that the incidence of male impotence in America has doubled since the 1940s.

Activity Can Save Your Life One of the best studies was conducted by renowned exercise guru Dr. Kenneth Cooper at his Aerobics Center in Dallas.

They followed 13,344 men and women for 15 years. This meticulous research, controlled for all major interfering variables; like age, family history, personal health history, smoking, blood pressure, cardiovascular condition, and insulin metabolism.

At the fifteen-year follow-up, reduced risk of death was closely correlated with physical fitness. This included death from cardiovascular diseases, a variety of cancers, and even accidents.

 

 

There is no longer any doubt:

 

Exercise can save your life, while couch potatoes create an existence that is nasty, sick, and short.

Activity Strengthens Heart and Lungs Numerous studies. Show that exercise protects your body by maintaining vital capacity; therefore maintaining adequate oxygenation of tissues.

The average sedentary American male aged 45 has lost half his ability to take up and use oxygen. With one year of the right exercise, he can restore it to the level of a 25-year-old.

Dr. Bortz rightly stated that the health benefits of restoring vital capacity are superior to any drug or medical treatment in existence.

In contrast to the weak cardiac function of sedentary folk, the athlete’s strength, a slow pulse is telling evidence of a healthy heart.

Many have rates in the 40s, and the Colgan Institute; one recorded champion cyclist Howard Doerfling at an incredible 29 beats per minute.

Sedentary folk, however, are likely to show heart rates in the 80s or 90s. When heart rate rises above 84, the risk of coronary heart disease more than doubles.

Activity protects blood pressure most average people show blood pressure of 120/80; which is regarded as normal, but this is not normal at all.

 

 

We know that these people are already on their way to disease.

 

The risk of cardiovascular disease starts to rise as systolic blood pressure goes above 103 mmHg. By 120 mmHg, previously thought to be normal, risk has risen from 51 to 77 per 10.000 people.

That is an increase of 50%. By 135 mmHg, a level that many physicians still regard as marginal, but acceptable, risk has doubled.

Beyond 135 mmHg you are a walking time bomb. The same applies to diastolic blood pressure. Usual levels found on average people are 80-89 mmHg.

Recent research shows that these figures indicate a pre-disease state.

Diastolic pressures below 80 mmHg show an incidence of new cardiovascular disease of 10 cases per 1000 people. But by 90-89 mmHg; it shows an incidence of 40 cases per 1000 people, a risk increase of 300%.

 

 

Don’t fret.

 

It’s easy to reduce blood pressure with the right exercise. Many studies show that exercise works for older people as well, in whom you might think the damage to blood pressure is permanent.

In a typical study sedentary hypertension patients, aged 55 to 78 years were followed. All had elevated blood pressure.

After participating in an exercise program, systolic blood pressure fell by a whopping 20 mmHg. Regular exercise will lower blood pressure in almost anyone.

Activity Lowers Cholesterol Despite media beatings, cholesterol is not the bad guy. Cholesterol is essential to every function of your body.

It forms part of all your organs, including your heart and your brain. Your body makes all your steroid hormones, including adrenalin, estrogen, and testosterone from cholesterol. You cannot live without it.

 

 

Most of your cholesterol is not from food at all.

 

It is manufactured in your body mainly by the liver. When a healthy person eats high cholesterol foods; the liver immediately reduces its own cholesterol production to keep blood cholesterol low and healthy.

Disordered cholesterol metabolism. Is the cause that blood cholesterol rises to dangerous levels; and is a man-made disease, caused mainly by our degraded nutrition and sedentary lifestyle.

As you probably know, we have “good” high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and “bad” low-density lipoprotein cholesterol.

Total cholesterol is mostly LDL, and this is still one of the best predictors of cardiovascular disease. You can measure this total cholesterol with a simple device at home, it is called the “Accumeter”.

What is a healthy cholesterol level? You may ask. The American Heart Association and other US health authorities made in mid-1980 below 200 mg/dl their official recommendation.

Today we know that this is too high. In a comprehensive study by Dr. Jeremiah Stamler, he followed 356,000 men in 28 US cities.

Following his research, death rates from cardiovascular disease start to rise when cholesterol gets above 168 mg/dl.

Total cholesterol in sedentary American men and women rises over 200 mg/dl in their 30s and reaches about 220 mg/dl by age 45.

It’s clear that sitting like a slug exposes oneself to disease. Recent research shows that average cholesterol levels in runners and bodybuilders; ranged between 158 mg/dl and 183 mg/dl. It proves that exercise makes a healthy difference.

 

 

Cardiovascular diseases are far out of our biggest health problem.

 

It kills more than twice as many Americans as all cancers; nine times as many as all other lung and liver diseases together, and 28 times more than all forms of diabetes.

There are good reasons to warn everybody starting an exercise program; to have a thorough medical and physician’s approval before they start.

Sudden exertion in sedentary people. “raises their chances of a heart attack by….100 fold! A health letter from the Mayo Clinic stated. “Most people who have heart attacks during activity are sedentary or have underlying heart disease and overdo it.”

Activity Prevents Cancer Most cancers are slow-growing diseases, eating silently away at your body for years before they show up.

Despite the overblown claims of successful treatment by the National Cancer Institute, once cancer emerges, medicine is usually powerless.

Remember the swift deaths of Michael Landon of pancreatic cancer and Jaqueline Onassis of Lymphoma.

If there was an effective treatment, don’t you think those immensely rich people would have bought it? So, if a little of the right exercise can prevent cancer, it’s worth all the gold in Fort Knox.

And above all, like the other best things in life, it’s free! From a study by Dr. Kenneth Cooper.  It showed that the incidence of all forms of cancer was closely correlated with a lack of physical exercise. Unfit men and women were 300% more likely to develop cancer.

But the best finding from this study is that you must move only a smidgen out of couch potato land to prevent cancer big time.

 

 

Activity Against All Diseases.

 

The right exercise is a major strategy for preventing and treating all diseases. Physicians who do not incorporate exercise into their treatment protocols are guilty of malpractice.

The right exercise maintains your heart, lungs, your muscles, your bones, a healthy level of body fat, even your intestinal function.

But what about more subtle functions, such as insulin, and your body’s handling of sugar? We know that couch potatoes lead to glucose intolerance.

However, research has shown not long ago that getting off the couch not only maintains insulin function; to deal with the sugar but also can reverse decades of damage.

In healthy people, the right exercise completely protects glucose tolerance against degenerative; changes in insulin metabolism that lead to adult-onset diabetes.

Research has revealed the major way in which activity protects you against all diseases. It started with evidence that exercise increases overall white blood cells.

Then came more precise findings that moderate exercise. Increases bodily production of lymphocytes, interleukin 2, neutrophils, and other disease-fighting components of the immune system.

There is no longer doubt that the right exercise strengthens your immunity. Hence it strengthens your resistance against all sorts of damage, decay, bacteria, viruses, toxins, even radiation.

 

Finally.

Remember the wise words of Louis Pasteur, the father of modern medicine: “Host resistance is the key”.