My Go-To Smoothie Recipe

IMG_5559.JPG

No pretty pictures here because I just decided to throw this recipe up real quick! James is playing SO independently this morning, so I'm taking advantage! I whipped up my favorite smoothie, snapped a quick picture, and here you go!

I love this smoothie because it is full of healthy fats and protein, which keeps you full for a LOOOONG time. It helps to regulate your blood sugar so you don't crash and get starving again in an hour. It's the best! I also love it's thick, creamy texture.

Ingredients:

  • half of a sliced up frozen banana
  • around 3/4 cups of almond milk
  • one spoonful of peanut butter (you could also use almond butter)
  • one spoonful of coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup of oats
  • a pinch of flax seed
  • a pinch of chia seeds
  • a scoop of vanilla protein powder (could also use chocolate! I use this protein powder: click here)

Blend all of the ingredients together in a blender. I use the Nutribullet (click here for the blender I use)

I don't honestly measure any of the ingredients precisely. I just eyeball it, so don't stress too much. Just do what looks/sounds good to you. But it's seriously so yummy and really keeps you feeling full a long time. Plus, it's super healthy and good for you! Win!

Screen Shot 2016-11-13 at 2.16.27 PM.png

What I'd Like You To Know About My Anxiety

IMG_7952.jpg

I've been wanting to write this post for awhile, but it's been a hard one to make myself actually start. Whenever I thought about what I wanted to say or how I wanted to approach this topic, I got overwhelmed and honestly, I got anxious. Thinking about writing this post on anxiety gave me anxiety. Ha! The subject is so huge, so complicated, so hard to explain, and so deep that I feared that this post would end up being LOOOOOONG. Too long. So I've just decided to keep it as short and simple and to the point as possible.

When I mentioned recently on Instagram that I have social anxiety, I got a lot of messages and comments from people who suffer from the same thing and who wanted to hear more about my experience. I love the idea of giving some insight into anxiety and hopefully helping at least one other person who may feel the same way. But on a more selfish level, I more want to write this post for the people in my life to read and to maybe have a better understanding of me, why I am the way that I am, why I act the way that I act, etc...

I have no real plan for how to lay this out, so I think I'll just dive in. I apologize in advance if this seems disjointed or unorganized or confusing! And I want to just say THIS right up front:

I'm a happy person! I am totally ok and I love my life and this is not some huge sad thing that negatively impacts my every single day. It's just something I deal with that impacts *certain aspects* of my life, but not to the extent that I am unable to deal. I'm ok! I just want to share my experience in case it is helpful to other people in even the slightest bit! :)

You might think I'm shy. Well, maybe I am a bit. But, really, I just have awful social anxiety. My whole life I've grown up being told that I'm quiet, shy, an introvert. I've believed it. I've felt it. But I also knew that there was so much more to it. Rather than just feeling apprehensive or a bit "shy" around new people, I feel an almost debilitating surge of anxiety.

And not just around new people. Around people I've known for years and years.

Family members, friends, coworkers...you name it. In fact, I can count on one hand the number of people that I DON'T experience this with: my parents, Ben, and James. Really. That's it. Every single other social interaction sends me into a nervous, anxious attack of panic - some obviously much worse than others. Some aren't so bad, sure. But sometimes I have BAD attacks.

Here's Some Of What I feel/Experience:

-inability to catch my breath

-surging chatter and noise in my head so I can't focus on the conversation at hand

-choking on my own spit (no really, haha)

-shaking

-sweating

-hot flashes

-completely consumed by analyzing what my face is doing and how the other person is seeing me and what they are thinking while we are talking

-obsessing over which eye to focus on when talking with someone...like, do I stare in between their eyes? Do I focus on one eye? Do I switch between eyes?!?! haha

-complete blanking of anything to say...like...I go brain dead.

-heart racing

-light headed

-dread

-panic

You get the idea.

I used to dread going to school. Yes yes...I know, EVERY kid dreads going to school. But I mean, I used to DREAD it. Like...panic, fear, hyperventilating each and every morning. Over thinking every single step I would have to take to get to my first class, every single person I may have to pass in the hall... I missed A LOT of school because some days I just honestly mentally COULDN'T walk into the school.

Now you may ask, if I am on medication for this. The answer is no. Because, while I have it bad, others have it so much worse. Because I am still able to function. Because I am, in most cases, able to put on at least some sort of a front - a mask - and appear at least relatively calm and normal... relatively. ;) Other people can't. That's when you need medication. I don't want to be on medicine for this and I am able to cope and live and function without it. But, I guess the point of this is that it's hard. Sometimes, it's really hard. The mere idea of a lunch date with a friend, or meeting a group of my husband's co workers, or going to a family dinner sends me into a panic-y attack of stress and anxiety and dread. It sucks. Being social is genuinely HARD for me. haha

Now, here is something I'd like you to know:

The worst...WORST...let me repeat this: THE WORST thing that people do or say when I try to explain how I feel is to say "oh but everyone feels that way!" "I feel that way too in certain situations!" "oh, those are normal feelings!" "everyone feels like that deep down!" and other similar things to that affect...

Because let me tell you this: not everybody DOES feel this way. Anxiety is real. It's a thing. It's a mental thing. It's a medical thing. And unless you have it, you DON'T know what it feels like.

Yes, you may get nervous meeting new people. Yes, you may dread socializing, small talk, chatting, etc... Yes, you may prefer to stay in and watch a movie rather than going out with others... Yes... THAT stuff is normal. But to have trouble BREATHING, SWALLOWING, THINKING, STANDING, FUNCTIONING, FORMING WORDS...to have actual physical symptoms...that's not normal. That's anxiety.

So, the BEST thing to do when someone tries telling you that they are experiencing something like this is to acknowledge how they feel. Accept it. Hear what they are saying. Even if you don't understand it...understand this: something much bigger, deeper, and darker is going on than you could ever fully comprehend. The person telling you these things is suffering and is letting you in on a little of their secret. So...just hear it. Tell them you're sorry, tell them that may be tough. Acknowledge that you don't understand what that feels like. 

But please don't dismiss what they are feeling as less than what it is.

Here are a few things that help me with my social anxiety:

-focusing on my breath

-focusing on happy thoughts

-trying to tune out my own internal commentary when I'm talking to someone or listening to someone

-meditating

-praying

-positive self talk

-being able to laugh at myself and see the humor in it ;)

A few last thoughts:

-This post makes this sound like social anxiety is such a dramatic part of my life...it's not! I promise! Trust me, after almost thirty years of living with this, it really only impacts me to the extent of the situation. So, for example, when I'm living my life, I'm fine, I'm so happy. When I run into someone I know at the grocery store and choke on my own spit and start sweating and babbling and my eyes start darting back and forth between their eyes...it sucks. haha! That's when it impacts me. But then I walk away and I am able to laugh at myself and roll my eyes, and then I'll tell Ben about what happened and we'll laugh and it becomes no big deal. Ben and I are able to joke about it...that's one of the many reasons I love him so much. He makes me feel normal. He makes me feel safe. He makes me feel fine. :)

-I've only recently really started understanding what it is I suffer from, and with that has brought about an immense amount of relief. Now that I know that what I feel has a name and is a legitimate thing and that other people suffer from it to, I don't feel so out of control and weird and dysfunctional. I feel like...I just have social anxiety. So now I can deal with it!

-After giving birth to James and going through a traumatic pregnancy and birth experience, my anxiety skyrocketed. For several months, I suffered from postpartum anxiety and it was very hard and dark to have to deal with that when trying to adjust to being a new mom. But now things have leveled back out and I feel better than ever. Am I nervous that it will get bad again after giving birth to my second child? A little. But I know I can get through it if it does.

So, the point of all of this is not for pity, or to make you think I'm suffering on a daily basis, or that I'm unhappy, or that I'm crazy... haha It's just to give you a little glimpse into my experience. I hope that if you have any similar experiences that you'll share them with me! It's always so nice to know that we're not alone, despite all the crazy weirdness that we each may deal with.

Thanks for reading, friends!

Screen Shot 2016-11-13 at 2.16.27 PM.png

Shine Organics: My Favorite Healthy On-the-go Snack!

IMG_6185.JPG

***Thank you to Shine Organics for sponsoring this post!***

Today, I wanted to share one of my new FAVORITE things: a healthy snack that's EASY to take on-the-go! Shine Organics Pouches (click here for a coupon!) are a convenient blend of real, organic fruits and vegetables, chia seeds, and superfoods.

They are perfect for throwing in your gym bag or purse, or just for when you need a quick snack around the house. Basically, as an active and busy mom of a toddler, these pouches are PERFECT for me! Whether James and I are running errands, heading to music class, or just hanging out at home, I can always have a HEALTHY snack on hand. No fuss, no mess, and no prep time. I just grab a pouch and instantly have a YUMMY snack to enjoy and to satisfy my hunger! These pouches fit into my lifestyle EFFORTLESSLY.

IMG_6194.jpg
IMG_6193.jpg

Finding healthy snack food that actually tastes good, as well as being good for you is tricky. That's why I'm really really glad that I've found Shine Organics!

You can find Shine Organics Pouches at Target in the apple sauce section. Click here to get a coupon for $1 off of a four pack!

IMG_4075.JPG
IMG_7317.JPG

What are your favorite healthy on-the-go snacks?? Please share! I love getting new ideas!

Screen Shot 2016-11-13 at 2.16.27 PM.png

5 Easy Beauty Hacks

FullSizeRender copy.jpg

Hi everyone!

How is your week going? What's new? Have any fun plans that you're looking forward to in the coming weeks? Fill me in! I love hearing from you guys!!

I hope you had a great Fourth of July! Mine was super low-key. Ben, James, and I went to the cabin in Montana over the weekend, which was really fun. We came back Monday night, and Ben had to work on the 4th. James and I spent the day lounging around the house and recovering from the long car ride the day before. James was in bed by 6:30pm, and then Ben and I watched a movie and went to bed early. #parentlife :)

Anyways, I've been wanting to share some easy beauty hacks with you guys. These are things that you can incorporate into your day that will help you to look and FEEL glowing and healthy!

  1. Collagen I have recently started adding a scoop of this collagen into my morning cup of coffee, and also into my afternoon cup of tea. Collagen has SO many benefits, and I'll be doing a whole blog post about it soon, so check back for that, probably next week! Collagen helps to reduce wrinkles, it helps to heal your gut, it helps with joint pain, it's good for your hair, skin, and nails...it's so good. It's such an easy thing to incorporate into your daily routine, and I have seen a major difference since I started using it. I love this one - you can get it here.

  2. Apple Cider Vinegar I love taking an apple cider vinegar shot every morning to help wake up my digestive system. Apple cider vinegar helps with weight loss, it's a mood enhancer, it helps give you energy, it has natural antibiotic properties, it can assist in controlling high blood sugar levels...the list goes on and on! I like this brand (get it here) but any Apple Cider Vinegar WITH THE MOTHER (VERY IMPORTANT TO GET ONE THAT SAYS 'WITH THE MOTHER') will do. I mix about a tablespoon of ACV with about half a cup of pure, natural pineapple juice and a little honey. So good!!

  3. Probiotic Probiotics are good for a NUMBER of reasons. They help with digestive and urinary health, gut health, allergies, stress, immunity...just to name a few things! Taking a probiotic can be ESPECIALLY important for us postpartum mamas. I'll do a blog post about this as well, if you guys would like more information! Let me know. Anyways, definitely talk to your doctor before starting to take any supplements, including a probiotic. I take this one.

  4. Oils I've been battling postpartum hormonal acne for awhile now, and one of the things that has really helped has been using facial oils. I love this one so much! I was sent it complimentary for testing purposes, and I seriously LOVE IT. Get it here. I cleanse my face (morning and night) and then spray it with my Mother Dirt mist (see number 5 below!) and then massage my face with this oil before applying my moisturizer (I use this one). My skin is so much more moisturized and dewy and clear since I've started this regimen. Definitely recommend oils!!

  5. Mother Dirt AO Mist This is a spray that you mist all over your face (and body, if you'd like) that has live bacteria in it (the good kind). The thought is that with all of the cleansers and scrubs that we use in our daily lives, we eliminate the good bacteria from our skin. This spray puts it back. It is said to reduce the need for moisturizers and deodorants, and is made with family-friendly, simple ingredients. I definitely have noticed a difference in my skin since using this. Highly recommend it! Get the Mist here.

What are your ride-or-die beauty hacks? Please share - always looking for new ideas and things to try! :)

Workout Wear Lust List

The Bikini Series is coming to an end, and Summer is quickly approaching! I am more motivated than ever to get in shape and tone things up!

One of my favorite ways to motivate myself to get in a workout is by wearing cute workout wear! If I know that I have a cool new outfit to wear for my morning sweat sesh, I am 1000x more likely to hop out of bed and get it done. I love clothes, and workout clothes are no exception!

Now is the perfect time to reward ourselves with some new fitness apparel to give us that extra push to be our healthiest selves, and to look good while we do it!

Here are some workout clothing items that I am MAJORLY lusting after at the moment:

Click on a picture below for all the details and to shop it!

Treat yo'self! ;)

 

 

What I Eat In A Day

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Half way through the week, and - for those of us doing the Bikini Series - half way through week 5!!

So, as promised, I am going to be sharing what I typically eat in an average day. I'll share some recipes that are my go-tos.

M1: A smoothie bowl, oatmeal, protein pancakes, or eggs and toast.

For protein pancakes, I just follow this recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 serving of protein powder (I like using vanilla or chocolate flavored protein!)
  • 1 mashed up banana
  • 1 egg
  • a splash of coconut milk
  • a dash of cinnamon

Directions:

Mash up the banana with the egg and the coconut milk until well mixed/blended. Stir in the protein powder and cinnamon. Mix well. Pour about a half a cup of the mixture onto a pan over medium-high heat and cook until you see bubbles forming on the surface. Flip the pancake and cook for a couple of minutes. You kind of have to just use your own judgement when it comes to knowing if the pancake is cooked enough. I top mine with maple syrup and blue berries. Enjoy!

Here is my favorite smoothie bowl recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 serving of chocolate protein powder
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1/4 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1/2 cup of coconut milk
  • small handful of kale

Directions:

Put all ingredients in a blender and blend well. Pour into a bowl and add your favorite toppings. I love to top with coconut flakes, chia seeds, blueberries, sliced bananas, and cacao chips. Enjoy!

You can also find my Patriotic Smoothie Bowl recipe here. It's pretty similar to this recipe!

Here is my favorite way to have oatmeal:

Make one serving of old fashioned oats. Stir in honey, pinapple chunks, coconut milk, blueberries, chia seeds, and flax seed.

M2: Usually a banana, egg muffins, a protein shake, or a TIU approved muffin from the Nutrition Plan! My favorites are the Lemon Poppyseed muffins!

I also love making this smoothie:

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of frozen pineapple
  • 1/2 cup of frozen mango
  • 1/2 cup of coconut milk
  • small handful of frozen kale
  • 1 clementine
  • 1 tbs coconut flakes

Directions:

Add all ingredients into a blender and blend well. Pour into a glass, sprinkle chia seeds and coconut flakes on top, and garnish with a slice of pineapple! Enjoy!

M3: Turkey Chili, Tray Meal, Quinoa Salad, Salmon, or leftovers from dinner the night before!

For Turkey Chili, here's what I do (it's super simple):

Brown ground turkey in a pan. Then combine the turkey, a carton of organic low sodium vegetable broth (or make your own broth!), chopped up bell peppers, chopped up yellow onions, black beans, chopped garlic, cumin, cayenne pepper, ground black pepper, paprika, organo, and garlic powder in a big pot. Bring to a boil, and then simmer for a bit. Enjoy!

M4: Square from squareorganics.com (Use the code 'ANNAMCOHENBLOG' at check out for 20% off - nothing in it for me, just sharing the goodness! :)), Aussie Bites from Costco, Tuna with red onion, or greek yogurt.

My favorite way to make greek yogurt is to take one cup of greek yogurt, and stir in honey, chia seeds, coconut flakes, and cacao chips.

M5: Zoodles with Red Sauce, Salmon with Brussels Sprouts, Steak with Broccolini, Bratwurst with Onions and Bell Peppers, Beef and Broccoli, Steak and Cauliflower, Tacos, Hawaiian Pork Tenderloin... Those are the main meals on rotation at the moment! I *almost* always do a protein and a veggie.

Ben and I make our own marinara sauce:

Just mix chopped up tomatos, olive oil, red wine, chopped garlic, basil, and oregano in a large pan and bring to a boil. Then reduce it to a simmer for a long time...hours preferably, but just as long as you can. Ben has his over pasta, and I like making zoodles. Here is a nice spiralizer if you're looking for one: click here for the spiralizer

I usually have a handful of dark chocolate chips every night, because I HAVE TO, hahaha. I have found that it doesn't work to completely deny myself, so I definitely allow myself little treats here and there. I love making these tasty and healthy chocolate treats too! Click here for the recipe.

I hope this was helpful!! Please let me know if you have any questions, or if I can clarify anything!

Life Lately: Lots of updates!

Hello friends!

Sorry I've been MIA for the past few weeks! So much is going on, and I have been so busy! But things are calming down a bit and I'm back and ready to hit the blogosphere full-force!

I have a lot of super exciting content planned for the upcoming weeks, so stay tuned...here are some topics you can expect to see covered:

  • What I Eat In A Day
  • Workout-Wear Lust List
  • Five Favorites
  • Father's Day Gift Guide
  • Mommy Monday: 10 Month Update
  • Summer Reading List
  • Swim Lust List
  • Green Muffin Recipe

And a lot more! Get excited!! And as always, let me know if there are any topics that you'd like me to cover!

Ok, so ... life! What's been going on in my life. If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I've been asking for prayers, positive thoughts, and good vibes the past couple of weeks.

A couple of weeks ago, I found a lump in one of my boobies. Needless to say, I instantly was worried and got in to see my doctor right away. He referred me to get a mammogram/ultrasound/biopsy, so I had to wait for that.

But today, I found out that all is well - it turned out to be nothing! Woohoo, praise the Lord! Thank you all for your prayers and sweet messages!! You all are seriously the best and I am so grateful that I can always count on you for encouragement and support when I need it most!

I found another lump a few years ago, which also turned out to be nothing. But let me tell you, now that I am a mom...things are just so completely different. I was SO MUCH more afraid this time, not of being sick or dying or anything, but of not being there for James. The thought of it made/makes me sick. Motherhood brings with it a slew of anxieties and new fears, all based around your child. The thought of something happening to me that would cause sweet little James to not have his mommy there for him...to not have someone care for him in the exact and special way that only I can... it just was devastating to even begin to consider. And at this age...he wouldn't even remember me. Ugh. BUT I'M OK!! haha Thank you, God!!

So, needless to say, that was a bit consuming and I haven't had the head space or drive to do much writing. But, now that that worry is behind me, I'm ready to dive back in! I feel rejuvenated and motivated and excited to write again!!

In other news...we bought a house! It's being built as we speak, and Ben and I are SO SO SO excited!! This is a huge step for us, and we are really looking forward to this next chapter in our lives! I'll be sure to keep you all updated!

Would you guys like to see posts about the home building/buying process?? Let me know!!

I have so many fun projects and collaborations that I'm working on that I can't share with you YET, but I am really excited about what is to come and as always, thank you for following along on the journey!!

Core Rehab, Part 2

"Is the Core Rehab Program worth the money?"

I get asked this A LOT.

I have shared a lot on the blog and on Instagram about how I had diastasis recti postpartum, as well as my ELATION over finding the Core Rehab Program. You can read about my experience during the first few phases of the program in my Core Rehab, Part 1 post - click here to read it.

To refresh, diastasis recti (abdominal separation) is a SUUUUUUUUPPPPERR common thing that so many women have after pregnancy. The scary thing is that there is a shocking lack of information and awareness about it, and often times it goes un-diagnosed and therefore, untreated. Here is a video you can watch that shows you how to check yourself for diastasis recti postpartum. Additionally, many women who ARE informed that they have it are told that surgery is the only way to repair it, which is NOT TRUE!! The Core Rehab Program helped me to heal my abdominal separation, and it can help you too.

First of all, let me say that this post is not an ad...I just genuinely am so passionate about this program because it seriously helped me to feel SO MUCH BETTER. I also get SO MANY QUESTIONS about my experience with the program, so I KNOW that there are other mamas out there who are interested in learning more and in finding a solution to their postpartum aches, pains, and misalignments. So, now that that is out of the way, let me update you now that I have finished all six phases of the program.

After completing the Core Rehab Program, I have definition in my abs and core, my diastasis recti has all but completely closed up, and I FEEL like my old self...the way I am SUPPOSED to feel.

While recovering post-baby is NOT all about looks or physical appearance, that is important in its own regard. When you like the way that you look, it's good for your head.

And mental recovery is JUST as big a part of the postpartum journey as is physical recovery!

The Core Rehab Program is slow-moving, which at first you don't necessarily feel like you are doing much at ALL. But that is the beauty of it, because Erica Ziel (the creator of the program) breaks it down slowly, step by step and helps you to re-form those deep connections that are needed to rebuild your core and heal abdominal separation the CORRECT and SAFE way.

After finishing the six phases of the program, my core feels strong, toned, and my whole body feels more aligned and centered. My posture is back to how it SHOULD be - pregnancy does a number on your spine, back muscles, neck, etc... and this program walks you through re-training your body into proper alignment. It teaches you how to pick things up properly and safely, protecting your back and abs while doing so. It teaches you how to do squats and arm work safely, how to lie down safely, and eventually, how to do "crunches" and additional work that uses your core.

It can be SO overwhelming, discouraging, and stressful trying to figure out where to begin to help your body heal and recover postpartum. I felt so un-like myself after giving birth and I was worried about my abdominal separation. I didn't know how to go about trying to fix things and heal my core.

The Core Rehab Program gave me to tools, and walked me step by step through it all. It's like Erica is a good friend, holding my hand, and gently guiding me through the process of healing and feeling like myself again.

So, is the program worth the money? In my opinion YES YES YES.  100% yes. Us mamas deserve to feel good postpartum. You deserve to give healing your diastasis recti without surgery a try. If you don't have abdominal separation, then you STILL deserve to re-learn how to properly stand, sit, walk, move in a way that is comfortable, safe, and right.

If you have any questions at all about the program or about my postpartum journey and my experience with diastasis recti, don't hesitate to ask! I'm here!

You can sign up for the Core Rehab Program and learn more about it here. Enrollment for the program closes on May 22nd so don't miss out on being able to sign up if you're interested!!

Guest Post: Essential Oils & How To Use Them

Today, I am so excited to be featuring a guest blog post from my friend, Kristen Suppa! You may remember Kristen from a previous post about the Knocked Up Fitness Core Rehab Program (find that post here).

Kristen is going to be telling us AAAALLL about Essential Oils and their uses, and I am really looking forward to learning more because I'm so curious about oils!

Let's dive right in! Take it away, Kristen!

...

Hi! First off, I am so excited to be collaborating with Anna again! We ‘met’ on Instagram through being longtime “tiu girls,” and we both welcomed our baby boys in 2016. :)

For me, that was my second pregnancy and second little man. My older son is going to be 3 late this coming summer, which is crazy, and time is FLYING especially with having a 1 year old along with him! Anna and I previously collaborated here on her blog after we both found and fell in LOVE with Erica Ziel’s postpartum fitness program, Core Rehab… you can read more about me and my pregnancies, birth stories, and my experience with prenatal and postpartum fitness routines here!

 

I just love how uplifting and positive Anna is on her social media and blog, and her and I share a passion for health and wellness for sure. When I first dove into life as an essential oiler ☺ I just knew that I wanted to share what I have been learning about Young Living Oils with Anna! I knew she would totally vibe with this lifestyle that I have discovered and that her readers would be into it too! So, thank you in advance for diving in with us!

 

I figured I would start with a little background about exactly what essential oils are and then delve into how I am using them to support myself in motherhood, in my home, and for my family.  I hope that you enjoy what I have to share, and don’t hestitate to find me on Instagram @well.balanced.home if you ever want to chat!

 

Ok…so exactly what are essential oils?

They are the most powerful part of plants- distilled from shrubs, flowers, trees, roots, rinds, herbs...you get the idea…all things natural and organic and here on Earth since the beginning of time ☺

They are mentioned 1100 times directly and indirectly in The Bible and have been used by some of the oldest cultures on Earth.  

The science on the uses is continually growing, and we know that essential oils can provide support for every system in the body- your skeletal system, muscular system, circulatory system, endocrine system (hello Mama hormone support!), respiratory system, and immune system (with a little guy going to preschool soon, I am so thankful for these oils to support his wellness this coming Fall and Winter!)  I love using them to support our emotions, diffusing them in my home, swapping them out depending on our needs at the moment…freshening and purifying the air while I clean (thereby ditching candles and plug-ins that emit some pretty nasty toxins), energizing me in the morning while I start our day, stress relief during a tough day with 2 active toddler boys, sleep encouragement for all of us ;) to name a few…

I thought that this venture of starting my oily business would come with some overwhelm because there are hundreds of oils on Earth and all of this was new to me a few months ago…I thought I had to become an aromatherapist and an expert on it all (Type A over here!)  However, I have learned that you really only need 10-20 oils (plus I highly recommend a diffuser!) to get all of the support I mentioned above.  It really doesn’t have to be complicated, and the whole journey for me has been about learning and having fun! So…here are currently my favorite ways to use them…

 

Happy Mama

We all know that moods can swing during pregnancy and postpartum! Joy, Grapefruit, and Citrus Fresh Oils are such a great, uplifting combo in your diffuser or add 8-10 drops of each in a 10ml roller bottle (filled the rest of the way with a carrier oil like fractionated coconut oil- I got my carrier oil and my roller bottles on Amazon…aka Mom’s BFF and easiest way to get anything you need!) It is a flowery, citrusy scent that I roll onto my wrists and over my heart when I need a little pick-me-up! The citrus notes make it a good one in the morning, whether I diffuse it in my kitchen during breakfast and while I am doing dishes or roll it on instead of perfume to start the day ☺

The oils are much more potent by themselves than they are in a roller, and I often apply Joy oil, alone, directly onto my heart and wrists, and I immediately feel it working for me.  I do the same with my Stress Away Oil…it came in my Young Living Starter Kit with a roller top…so I can roll it directly onto my neck and shoulders and onto my wrists or bring it with me on-the-go to utilize whenever I need it or when an anxious situation arises…these were my BFF when I hosted Easter dinner! All the Joy oil and all the stress away was applied haha!  

Smelling these oils just helps me stay present and relaxed in the moment!  

I am personally working on being mindful and intentional during this season of my life, and my oils have been a huge source of support for me in working on that.  I wish I had found them sooner and used them during my pregnancies and labors!

 

Tired Mama

My Dream roller is EVERYTHING to me right now…it is my all time favorite combination that I have tried… Lavender and Frankincense.

Frankincense aka Frank is referred to as the “coconut oil” of EOs because it has over 50 uses…this is a sacred oil that is referred to frequently in scripture and is very useful during yoga and meditation to help you connect spiritually.

I roll it onto my wrists and bottoms of my feet before bed…it helps me unwind and feel grounded and I fall asleep and stay asleep…if I do wake in the night, I apply it again and I fall right back to sleep.  

Lavender is probably the essential oil you’re most familiar with…it is super popular, reminds me of being in a spa, and has so so many uses! I use a few drops into my Epsom salt baths too, and I sleep like a rock!

 

Active Mama

Being a “tiu girl” or “tiu mama” really at this point, like Anna, I LOVE working out! It is so helpful for me…mind, body, and spirit.  I have been using their Cool Azul cream on my sore muscles, and it is AMAZING!

If my neck and shoulders are tense from picking up my guys all day and not getting a chance to sit down, I apply this to my neck and shoulders before doing housework or cooking and it makes all of the difference in how I feel!

Young Living also has a Vitality Collection of Oils now, which are therapeutic-grade (as are all of their oils) but these Vitality Oils are dietary oils, meaning you can ingest them, as well as diffuse them and apply them topically like the regular line of oils.

To encourage myself to drink more water (a constant struggle for me!) I have been adding the peppermint, lime (reminds me of a margarita!), or lemon vitality oils to my water (be sure to only use the oils in glass and not plastic…or if you’re a tiu girl, then you probably have a stash of mason jars you can make your water in!)

They can help with digestion and give you more energy during a workout!

You can also cook with the vitality line of oils- make your chicken or fish lemon, rosemary, or basil flavored with a drop of oil…I recently read that Kristin Cavallari is a huge fan of Young Living and their Vitality Oils, and The Laguna Beach fan in me got super excited haha! Another oil I use from my starter kit after working out is PanAway…the smell reminds me of root beer, and I love how it soothes my muscles after a workout!

 

Take Care, Mama

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I am a HUGE proponent for self-care for Moms!

The days are long, and I make sure to take time to care for myself each day or night, whether that’s doing a face mask where I add tea tree oil for my acne-prone skin (it is antibacterial and antifungal and I can just feel it working!)…or more recently, I have started dry brushing my skin in the morning if I can squeeze in a shower (a Mama luxury!)…I have been applying Cedarwood Oil to my dry brush and dry brushing before I get into the shower to wake up my lymph system and energize me for the day ahead!

There are so many DIY recipes (i.e. go down the Pinterest rabbithole ☺) for using your oils for skin and body care.  My best friend who is also on this oily journey with me made me a peppermint body scrub and body butter for Christmas that was AH-mazing plus all organic and toxin-free! You can make some awesome handmade gifts! 

Now onto the little ones!

Young Living has a whole line of Kid’s Oils to take the guesswork out of what is best to use on them!  SleepyIze (praise hands!), SniffleEase, TummyGize, and Owie are their Kids’ Line Oils.

However, I have had success with using my regular oils on my little guys safely diluted with coconut oil and with great results! Gentle Baby is a wonderful smelling oil that I diffuse before bedtime- it is calming and soothing for both babies and Mamas, or I dilute a drop of Gentle Baby (or Lavender) in a couple of pumps of my carrier oil and massage their feet and backs during our bedtime routine.

I have made a gum massage oil combo while my littlest was teething with 1-3 drops of Copaiba Vitality oil and a tablespoon of coconut oil.  I have also made a Lullaby Room Spray for their bedding using Gentle Baby, Cedarwood, and Lavender Essential Oils in a glass spray bottle with a bit of witch hazel and distilled water. Anything to set the stage for good sleep, right?!

The uses really are endless, and Young Living has loads of supplements and vitamins infused with essential oils as well. I have recently added a Super B supplement to support my hypothyroid and skin issues and to support positive moods and cognitive function (aka it helps my “mom brain” ☺) I have added the Thieves Household Cleaner, fruit and veggie spray, and dish soap to my home as well.  

Knowing that I can clean without introducing toxins and endocrine disruptors into my household…after downloading the ThinkDirty app, this gives me tremendous peace of mind! I am cost-conscious, so I am not biting off more than I can chew.

Little by little as my personal care items like my toothpaste, mouthwash, shampoo, conditioner, laundry and dish detergent run out, I will most certainly be ditching them and switching to Young Living’s products.  I am all about simplifying life these days, and I promise, none of this has to be complicated.  

These products are fun to learn about, smell amazing, and are safe for everyone in your home.  The Young Living Starter Kit comes with the diffuser and 11 of the most popular oils plus lots of samples and is the easiest way to get started…bundled together, it ends up being 50% off the regular prices and 24% off of all future purchases (whether or not you choose to pursue the business side or just use them for yourself).

But I am also happy to offer an extra incentive to Anna’s readers who purchase a starter kit (using my member #10680771)…this would be such a great Mother’s Day gift to give or receive!  

There is also an option to start with a couple of oils at regular retail pricing too if there are certain oils or products that you want to try for you or your little ones! I would love to connect with you on Instagram or via email at kristensuppa@gmail.com to help if you have any specific questions about the areas of your life that you are looking to support!

...

Thank you SO much, Kristen! I learned so much from this, and I hope that all of you reading it took away some real value and knowledge as well!

Be sure to comment below with any questions or comments! Do you use essential oils in your home? What are your favorite ways to use them?

 

 

Let's Talk About Stress + Controlling Our Reactions

Stress: Something that is an unavoidable and unpleasant part of life. We all experience it, and we all handle it differently.

I am personally not great at handling stressful situations. I get overwhelmed, emotional, and have major anxiety. I also get stressed out really easily - not great.

I tend to get overly worked up and stressed out over problems and situations that maybe don't merit that type of reaction. I am a people pleaser and hate when I feel that someone is disappointed in me, angry with me, or just plain doesn't like me. I'm also a bit of a neat-freak AND a perfectionist (when it comes to some things). All of this leads to me getting stressed out so easily - and quite often.

Luckily for me, I am married to a level-headed, pragmatic man who is so wonderful in helping me work through my stress and see situations for what they really are. I am so thankful for Ben and his calm, loving perspective and advice.

I've gotten a lot better about keeping my stress levels down. You can check out some of my tips for managing stress here.

I've learned that you have control over your reactions to situations - and that's it. You can't always control situations, or problems that arise. You can't control how people feel about you (nor does it matter). You can't control what someone says to you or what deadlines you have or what unexpected event happens.

But you CAN control how you allow yourself to feel about all of it...how you choose to react. A situation is only stressful if stress is how you react to it. A person's words are only hurtful if you allow yourself to feel hurt by them. A problem that comes up unexpectedly is only overwhelming and devastating if that is how you let yourself react to it.

Your reaction to something gives it it's value.

You can choose to react in a level-headed, unemotional, and practical way. You can look a problem square in the eye and choose to stay calm and tackle it in a methodical and efficient way. You can make the choice to not allow what others think or say of you elicit an emotional response.

You can choose how you react to every single situation that you encounter.

Ok, so, this mindset is a bit extreme. Obviously, we can't always have that much control over our natural responses and emotional reactions. But the point is that this is a good thing to strive for... to look at problems, interactions, and potential stresses with a clear, unemotional, and solution-driven mindset.

Easier said than done, but still an admirable aspiration, don't you think?

I've been reading 'The Daily Stoic' this year, and I highly recommend it. It talks a lot about choosing how to react to situations and not letting your emotions get in the way. It talks about staying in the moment and being aware of yourself and how you interpret things. It's good. You can get it here.

How do you handle stress? What are your tips for controlling your reactions? Please share in the comments below!

And be sure to subscribe to my blog, if you haven't already, to be notified whenever a new post goes up!

Mommy Monday: Balancing Exercise, Health, and Motherhood

FullSizeRender 4.jpg

Ok, let's be really really honest here for a second: making time for exercise and health as a mom is hard. It takes work and it takes a lot of mind power. Being a mom is such a rewarding and challenging task in and of itself, that sometimes the thought of doing a workout when I could instead be taking a few minutes to relax seems crazy.

But, then I remember how much BETTER I feel - both physically and mentally - when I get in a workout. When I break a sweat, it makes me feel proud and strong and like I am doing something to further my progress towards my physical goals.

It's far too easy to let a day slip by without squeezing in a workout. From there, it is a slippery slope. One day turns into one week...then one month... The next thing you know, it has been months since your last real workout, and your body feels weak and you don't know how to dive back in. Where to start? How to get that strength back? You are so much further from your goals.

Believe me, I get it. I get how it can happen. I've certainly gone a week or two without getting my exercise in, and man, is it hard to get back into a routine. You know what I've found to be the ONLY way to start working towards your goals again? To just simply start. Even if that means a short walk the first day, squeezing in a 30 second plank when you can, powering through 50 squats while your child plays, and then turning on a Yoga or workout video on YouTube during nap time.

Slowly but surely, squeezing in what you can each day, you will start to build up your strength - physical AND mental, because half of it...no, even MORE than half of it is mental.

As mothers, it is so important for us to be healthy...to not only take care of our bodies, but of our minds.

Our little ones see what we do to better ourselves. They watch as we make healthy food choices, and as we meal prep and prepare nutritious food for the week ahead. They see when we spend our free minutes doing lunges or jumping jacks or burpees. They see a woman, strong and proud and conscious of her physical condition and doing something to further her progress towards a goal and towards a healthy life.

I remind myself that it is not just for me that I make the (sometimes very difficult) decision to do a workout rather than sit down and put my feet up. It's for my son. It's for my husband. It's for my mind. It's for what I want to look like and feel like. It's for wanting to be healthy and strong and able to do all the activities that I love to do.

So, one step at a time, little by little, day by day, as mothers, we make the choice. We choose to be healthy. We choose to be an example. We choose to be strong. We choose to eat healthily. We choose to do what it takes. Is it easy? Nope. Important? Very. Worth it? Yes Yes Yes.

What are your tricks for staying fit, strong, and healthy as a mama? How do YOU make time for a workout and for healthy food choices? Be sure to share in the comments below!

What topics do you want to see on the blog? Send any ideas, questions, or comments to info@annamcohen.com! And be sure to subscribe below to be notified whenever there is a new post up!

 

Acupressure Mat

If you've followed me on Instagram (@tiugirlanna) or have been following my blog for awhile, you are probably aware of the fact that I have ongoing back issues...although, I mean, don't we all? I feel like everyone says that - "I have a bad back", etc... But in my case, I have scoliosis. So my back is sore and tight pretty much all of the time. After giving birth to James, my back was waaaayyy out of whack. Pregnancy and childbirth did a number on my already screwed up spine, and I was just a tight little ball of pain and tension. 

So, imagine my joy when I discovered acupressure mats! Oh my goodness, these things are so strange and incredible. Here's what it is, as described on Amazon:

The Acupressure mat and pillow use tiny little sharp plastic acupoints to stimulate the body's pressure points similar to acupuncture but without the use of skin piercing needles. When the pressure points of the body are stimulated, tension in the muscle is released while an increase in blood flow and circulation in the area slowly aids in healing and promotes complete relaxation and well being. In essence, acupressure point stimulation causes the body to heal itself so that it can function optimally.

You basically lay out this mat and the neck pillow that comes with it, and then you lie down on it, shirtless, and let the thing work it's magic for the next 10-45+ minutes. You start out with 10-15 minutes and work your way up to 45+.

How does it feel, one might ask? Well, it hurts. A lot. But only at first! After a few minutes, your back gets warm and tingly and it just relaxes EEEVEEERRYYYTHING. It's amazing. I was on it for over a half hour my first time on it without even realizing how long it had been. If you can make it past the first few minutes (which honestly, the pain isn't THAT bad, more like discomfort) it feels so nice!

I like to lie on the mat while Ben and I watch a show or movie at night. Light a nice candle, pour some kombucha, throw on some eye masks, and get on your mat, and you've got yourself a relaxing evening!

Here is the mat that I have {Click for the mat} and I highly recommend it. But there are A LOT of different brands out there, and they are the same idea, so get whichever you prefer.

Hope your week is going great so far!

Wild Eats: Healthy Valentine's Day Truffles

Valentine's Day is such a sweet holiday, that it would practically be a crime to not indulge in some sweet treats!

I love coming up with healthy treat alternatives. Remember this Valentine's Day fruit salad from last year??

This year, I'm sharing a recipe that is SO easy, SOOOO chocolatey, and SO yummy. And it is relatively healthy too! It's a perfect option if you need something decadent to indulge in!

Here's What You Need:

1 ripe avocado

3/4 cups of dark chocolate chips

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp cinnamon

cocoa powder

Here's What You Do:

First, mash up the avocado in a medium sized bowl. Then, melt the dark chocolate chips (you can use the microwave for this, or the stove top. I prefer the stove top.) Once the chocolate is melted and creamy, pour it into the bowl with the avocado and mix the two ingredients together well. Add in the vanilla and cinnamon and mix. Then, place the mixture into the fridge for a half hour or so. You want the mixture to cool and harden.

Once the mixture is hardened, remove it from the fridge. Form the mixture into balls. You can make the balls as big or as small as you'd like. Then, roll the balls in the cocoa powder, and voila!

Serve and enjoy!

Mommy Monday: Core Rehab, Part 1

If you've been following me for awhile on my blog and on Instagram, you know that I have diastasis recti (abdominal separation) since being pregnant with my son.

Diagram of diastasis recti - mine wasn't this severe at all, but this shows kind of what happens with abdominal separation!

Abdominal separation is very common postpartum. However, there is a shocking lack of information out there for mamas who have this. In fact, many women have abdominal separation and aren't even aware that they have it (learn how to check for it here), OR they have been told that the only way to FIX it is by having surgery. Which is NOT TRUE!!

When I was first pregnant with James, I was searching the internet for some exercises that I could do while pregnant. That's when I first came across Erica Ziel. Erica Ziel is the founder of Knocked Up Fitness and Core Athletica Inc.. She is an EXPERT in helping women to strengthen their deep core muscles in order to have a safer and easier pregnancy, delivery, and recovery. 

Erica Ziel

Now, Erica has developed the Core Rehab Program for postpartum mamas! The Core Rehab Program is designed for mamas who are interested in "rehabbing" their cores after all that they have been through with pregnancy and delivery. This includes working on posture, techniques for safely picking things up, and how to properly engage your deep core muscles to strengthen your core and help to repair abdominal separation.

Pregnancy can do a number on a woman's body, especially her core. Muscles and connective tissues are weakened, stretched, etc... It is important to strengthen your deep core and connective tissues postpartum in order to properly heal and to feel better. But, if you're like me, it can be overwhelming and even a little scary because

...where do you even BEGIN??

Erica was kind enough to let me do the Core Rehab Program in exchange for reviewing it. And I certainly hope you all know that I will ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS be honest in my reviews. I would never recommend something that I wasn't totally excited about or impressed by or that I didn't genuinely believe in. So, with that said, let me dive right in:

THE CORE REHAB PROGRAM HAS BEEN THE MOST LIFE-CHANGING, GREATEST THING FOR ME. And I truly mean that. 

The program consists of six phases, each broken up into two weeks. I am through the first two phases, and oh my goodness, the changes are so incredible. And I'm not just talking about physical changes, although I've certainly seen some. I'm talking about changes in the way that I feel.

After giving birth to James, my back KILLED me. I have scoliosis, so my back has always hurt me. But pregnancy and delivery just really really messed it up. Plus, being on bedrest didn't help because I basically lost all of the muscle tone that was helping to support my back. Add in the abdominal separation and weakened core, and I was basically a hot-postpartum-mess of pain, discomfort, and consequently - stress

My abdominal separation was minor: just about a finger tip and a half wide, and not very deep (only about to my first knuckle). My doctor told me to just take it easy and refrain from doing core exercises or anything other than cardio for two months or so and it should close up. Well, two months came and went and if anything, when I re-checked, it seemed like my separation had not closed up at all. (Granted, I probably hadn't been taking it as easy as I should have been...) In fact, I think my separation had even gotten a little worse. I was very stressed about this and just wanted my body to be fully healed so that I could get back into my regular exercise routine (exercise is SUCH a huge part of my life!!) and so that I could start building up my back muscles again to help with my scoliosis and pain management. 

I had seen some buzz about Erica's Core Rehab Program floating around the internet and social media and I was really curious about it. Then, I saw one of my friends on Instagram, Kristen Suppa (@well.balanced.home) post something about the program. I messaged her about it, and she connected me with Erica, and the next thing I knew, I was diving into the program with so much excitement and hope. (You can read Kristen's story at the bottom of this post!)

Within the first week of the program, I noticed a difference in how I felt. I was standing taller. I was feeling more supported through my core. I was making changes in the ways that I held my baby and in the way that I picked him and other things up from the floor. I was moving and standing and sitting differently. Even breathing differently!

I finally was being given the tools that I needed to begin to heal myself and FEEL BETTER. 

Now, I've finished phase two and I am so excited to say that when I re-checked my abdominal separation yesterday, I can no longer stick ANY of my finger in AND my separation is less than a finger tip wide, which is normal!! I am blown away with how quickly the program has helped me to heal, and I know that these quick results probably aren't the norm. I also know that I still have a long way to go. I'm going to be continuing to work through all of the phases, and I'll be writing a follow-up blog post once I've completed phase six so that I can update you all, so check back for that in a few months! I can't even imagine how amazing I'll feel once I've finished all of the phases!! 

Again, these are my honest opinions. I am not being paid to say any of this, I just genuinely am so excited about the Core Rehab Program and I want to tell all of you about it in case you are suffering from discomfort, or abdominal separation, or the stress of not knowing where to begin healing your core postpartum like I was. Whether you are three months postpartum or twenty years...Erica shows that it is possible to repair your diastasis recti, strengthen your core, and MOST IMPORTANTLY...feel better. 

The Core Rehab Program opens for enrollment tomorrow, on January 3rd. You can sign up here to receive more information and to be notified when enrollment is open. I don't get anything out of your signing up, other than the joy of knowing that you are going to receive the same loving guidance from Erica that I have. 

If you are a postpartum mama who has abdominal separation, OR even if you DON'T have abdominal separation but just feel like you need some help in strengthening your core, please consider this program, because it has seriously made such a difference for me. I could cry I am so thankful for the Core Rehab Program and Erica Ziel. I want you to feel better too. 

If you have questions, feel free to ask! And follow me (@annamcohenblog), @well.balanced.home and @knockedupfitness on Instagram for more daily updates! 

Here's to taking care of ourselves and to feeling GOOD postpartum!! :)

Kristen's Story:

I'm Kristen, and I'm a Mama of 2 little guys in New Jersey. My oldest is almost 2.5 and my youngest is 10 months. I got pregnant the second time around when my oldest was just 9 months old, and unfortunately I still had some ab separation from that first pregnancy. I was nervous that it would get a lot worse the second time around, and I actually reached out to Erica Ziel to ask about her Prenatal Workouts. She was super encouraging and suggested her Prenatal Sculpt Workout DVD and I was consistent with that (especially the core routine- which is gentle and safe for those with ab separation) throughout my pregnancy. I am thankful for those workouts because I had a very quick labor (3 hours from the first contraction to holding my baby!) and a smooth, easy recovery. As expected, I still had some ab separation postpartum, but I believe it would have been a lot worse (and my labor not as easy) had I not been proactive during my pregnancy and committed to those workouts. 

I ended up having a 2 finger gap from a few inches above my belly button, all the way down to my pubic bone, also the depth of my gap showed that my fascia was weak (something I learned about from Erica's tutorials)- the depth was almost to my second knuckle. I jumped on the opportunity to participate in Erica's newly released Core Rehab Program, and I just finished Phase 4. I am thrilled with how my body is feeling. I am a firm believer in doing what you can when you can and practicing patience with yourself during this season of motherhood where the babies are little and you don't get much time for yourself. Easier said than done (and I'm forever working on maintaining that mindset!), but that being said, it has taken me about 6 months to complete the 4 phases, and I am ok with that! The workouts are all under 20 minutes, and usually there are 1 or 2 videos to do each day, so you can split them throughout your day when you find a pocket of time. You stream them from your phone, iPad, etc. or follow PDF printouts, which is helpful as a busy Mama! I'll be starting the New Year with Phase 5, and I can't wait to see how I feel after I complete the final 2 phases! 

This program did more for me than almost closing my ab separation- it has given me more awareness in my everyday movements and posture than I ever had before, and I'm so thankful for that. My gap is now just localized to about 1 inch above my belly button and right at my belly button, and it is about 1 finger or less in width. Under my belly button, my gap is closed! The depth has improved significantly as well- it is about as deep as my first knuckle at this point and just localized to right around that small belly button area, so I am proof that the program can help to strengthen your fascia as well! Erica gives us so much valuable information in all of her videos and her excellent cueing during the workouts and tutorials that I can now truly connect to my core during activities in everyday life, and I just feel stronger and more intentional with my movements throughout my busy days. Of course, the bonus is how much flatter my tummy is and how much better my posture is. My husband even noticed my posture, so that's a win too! 

My advice to other Mamas and Mamas-to-be is that it is so important to practice self care and find some time for yourselves. Erica's programs are designed in such a way that they're very manageable and they will give you that time for yourself, while giving you your body confidence back! 

I love connecting with other Moms on Instagram (you can find me @well.balanced.home)- we all have SO much in common and can and should lean on each other for support when we need it! I'm so thankful to have connected with Anna through this community of Mamas- her Instagram account and blog always brighten my day! Looking forward to seeing her progress with this awesome program, and hope to connect with some of you as well! Happy New Year! 

 

My Pregnancy Diet

Burrito Bowl

I've gotten many requests to do a post about my diet and nutrition during pregnancy. So, I'm finally getting this posted! Basically, I've made a few lists of things that I have eaten during my pregnancy. I'll be honest - I haven't been perfect with my nutrition. In fact, I've indulged in doughnuts, cold stone, burgers, and captain crunch more than I'd care to share. However, over all I've tried to really make an effort to eat clean and to give my baby the nutrients necessary to help him grow big and strong. For me it was especially important to keep an eye on my diet since I was on bedrest for 16 weeks with very minimal physical movement or activity. Put simply, a healthy diet was key to keeping me from blowing up like a whale.

Without further ado, here are some lists of things I ate regularly throughout my pregnancy! I hope these are helpful!!

There you have it! The above are just a few of the things I have eaten on a regular basis throughout pregnancy. Obviously, my husband and I go out to dinner sometimes, and I eat pizza and junk a lot... BUT, overall, these are things I prepare regularly for myself. I eat A LOT of fruit, a lot of meat, and I try to eat a lot of veggies. I also try to get a lot of calcium in my diet through cheese, yogurt, and milk.

Oh! That reminds me! Here are some drinks that I have been loving while pregnant:

Thanks for reading! Let me know if this was helpful or if you want more details on anything or if you have any questions or suggestions... anything!

xo, Anna

Beauty Sleep Essentials

Sleep hasn't been something that I have been getting much of lately. Being pregnant makes getting a good night's rest a tad bit difficult. I miss being able to get a full night of sleep and waking up feeling fully rested and refreshed! Although, I know that this is good preparation for when my baby comes, since I probably wont be getting much sleep then anyways. :)

Needless to say, I've been doing a lot of thinking about sleep lately! More and more we are hearing about how IMPORTANT sleep is for our bodies and minds. I mean, you've probably heard of Arianna Huffington's new book, 'The Sleep Revolution', right? This book gets ALL into the importance of sufficient rest and ways to achieve it. Getting enough good quality rest is pretty much a non-negotiable for our health. Not getting enough sleep leads to dark circles, dull skin, crankiness, a decrease in proper brain function, and a weakened immune system. Not good!

I've put a lot of research and thought into sleep and ways to get as much of it as possible, especially when one is struggling with it like I am. Here are some beauty sleep essentials that I've rounded up based on what my searching has turned up, and on what has worked for me!

1. Lavender Essential Oil. Lavender is highly regarded for it's relaxing effects on the body. It helps to de-stress you and calm you down. I love dabbing a bit on the insides of my wrists at bed time.

*Scroll through the above gallery and click on a picture for more details on each piece!

2. Comfy Pajamas. Feeling comfortable is SO important when it comes to being able to doze off into a peaceful slumber! Above are some pajamas that I am lusting after! Click on each picture above for more info. on each piece. Finding the perfect sleepwear can make a world of a difference. I have a set of satin PJs from Victoria's Secret (no longer available) that are just the comfiest things in the world and I sleep so well in them!! Seriously, comfy pajamas are a game changer. Invest in some right away!

3. Eye Mask. A nice, soft eye mask can make such a difference. It blocks out any light that might be messing with your ability to snooze. Plus, there is something so luxurious about a nice eye mask, don't you think?

_11331964-1.jpg

4. Silk Pillowcase. Silk pillowcases are supposed to be so much better for your skin. Regular pillowcases can tug skin and leave weird creases in your face. A silk one will keep your skin smooth and will glide over your face as you move around in the night. Plus, again, so luxurious and soft! A silk pillowcase is just setting yourself up for a beautiful night's rest. This one matches the eye mask above, which is super cute too. When things match and look pretty together it puts me at ease and I'm better able to relax. Anyone else??

5. Tea. A nice cup of warm tea always helps me to unwind and puts me in the mood for bedtime.

Here are a few other tips for setting yourself up for a night of beauty sleep:

+Meditate: Spend 10 minutes meditating, focusing on your breath and on all of the beautiful things in your life that you are thankful for.

+Read: Try putting your electronics away as soon as you hop into bed. Better yet, keep them in a different room andmake your bedroom an electronics free zone. Ben and I are giving this a try now that we've moved into our new house. It's hard, I'm not going to lie, but it's so nice to be able to disconnect from social media and e-mails and screens. Instead of scrolling through Instagram, read a few pages from a book instead! E-readers don't count. No screens. Pick up a good old-fashioned book at bedtime.

+Take a warm bath: A bath at bedtime can be so relaxing and soothing. Throw in some bath salts and essential oils (lavender!), and light some candles. Then, feel yourself relax and decompress from your day. After a good soak, you'll be ready to drift off into a restful sleep.

What are your go-to tips for getting a good night's sleep?? Please share your beauty rest tips and tricks with me below!

xo, Anna

Wild Eats: Patriotic Smoothie Bowl!

Happy Fourth of July weekend! Feeling patriotic? Start your morning off with a little red white and blue and blend up this healthy, tasty breakfast bowl!

Here's What You Need:

  1. 1/2 avocado
  2. 1 banana
  3. 1/2 cup of blueberries
  4. 1/2 cup of strawberries
  5. 1/2 cup of milk
  6. 4-5 ice cubes
  7. 1 tsp cacao powder
  8. 2 tbs chocolate protein powder (I use
  9. Toppings: sliced banana, sliced strawberries, coconut flakes, chia seeds, 60% cacao chips, blueberries

Here's What You Do:

Blend all ingredients in a blender. Pour into a bowl, add toppings, and enjoy!

xo, Anna

 

Healthy Snack: Squarebars!

I can't believe I haven't done a post about these tasty bars yet! Square Organics reached out to me awhile ago and sent me some of these organic protein bars. I'M HOOKED. They are so tasty and I love keeping a few in my purse for when I need some fuel on the go. I love finding new snacks that are good for me and filling, and that don't taste like crap. I'm so excited to have connected with Square Organics because these Squarebars are a GAME CHANGER.

ga

Here's the best part: you can get 20% off at www.squareorganics.com using the code "tiugirlanna"! I don't get anything out of this, I'm just spreading the goodness! These are great for after a workout, on a backpacking trip or hike, or for little nibble during a long day at the office. Go get yourself a box! You wont regret it.

xo, Anna

Tips For Dealing With Stress And Anxiety

Stress and anxiety are things that a good majority of people deal with on a daily basis. For many of us, our lives are busy and full of deadlines, obligations, and To-Do lists that are a mile long. By now, most of us have heard about how bad stress is for our bodies and overall health. So, clearly, dealing with our stress and anxiety should be a priority! Learning how to manage and work through those feelings is important and there are several simple tips that I've found to be very helpful with this.

  1. Sleep. We’ve probably all experienced the power of sleep (or lack thereof) over our emotions. Problems seem bigger at night, and less so in the morning after a good night’s rest. Sleep is crucial for our brains to decompress and repair themselves. Getting enough sleep helps you to be able to have a fresh and clear perspective on things. Try getting an extra hour or two of sleep at night and you are sure to wake up feeling much better and ready to take on whatever your day has in store. 
  2. Meditate. I get pretty bad anxiety sometimes, to the point that I feel physically sick and short of breath. I’ve found that meditating daily has helped me to be able to better control my breathing and my thoughts throughout the day. Since starting to meditate, I’ve definitely noticed myself being able to calm myself down from cases of extreme stress and anxiety. Having some quiet, peaceful time every day to connect with yourself, quiet your mind, and focus on your breathing will help you to be able to re-center yourself throughout your day. Whether you have five minutes or twenty, take some time every day to be alone, quiet, and at peace. 
  3. Organize. Having a lack of organization in your life can be very stress-inducing. Even if you don’t realize it, having a messy house or a cluttered desk is not great for your peace of mind. Set aside some time to organize! Having things in their proper place will feel so good! And having clean, beautiful surfaces is much more calming and conducive to healthy thoughts and productivity than a messy, cluttered, and un-aesthetically pleasing space. 
  4. Plan. Going along with number three, try organizing your life and your To-Do list: plan. If you don’t have a day planner yet, I highly recommend that you get one! I use a Day Designer and I could go on and on raving about how much it has changed my life. Being able to plan ahead and schedule your days out is such a great way to stay organized and on track. Writing out your To-Do list helps you to keep track of everything that you need to do. Instead of trying to keep everything straight in your head, putting your tasks and goals and appointments on paper will take stress out of your life. 
  5. Prioritize. We all have a million things to do each day. Figuring out where to start can be VERY stressful. If you’re anything like me, having a huge To-Do list and not knowing what task to begin with often times leads to me sitting in front of my computer or phone, procrastinating. Which makes me stressed, because I get nothing done. Prioritizing is the answer! Every day, try picking your top three NON-negotiable tasks that absolutely MUST be completed that day. Everything else comes second, but those top three tasks are of pressing importance and simply MUST be completed. Start with those three tasks. Then, you can start moving down the rest of your list. It can be easy to put off the most unpleasant or challenging tasks. Try this: do those tasks FIRST. Think how great and free you will feel once those dreaded tasks are done! Then you can move on to the easier, fun, or more pleasant tasks on your list. 
  6. Exercise. Exercising gives you endorphins, which make you happy. It also helps to release stress and it gives you energy! I love to work out in the morning. It gets my heart pumping, gets oxygen to my brain, gets my body loosened up and moving, and helps me to feel good about myself, having accomplished something that is good for myself before my day has even fully begun! No need to trek to a gym. There are PLENTY of exercise programs and videos that you can do right at home. In your PJs even, if you’d like! Exercise is such an amazing stress reliever, and it is so good for your body and mind. 
  7. Breathe. When you feel yourself overwhelmed with stress and anxiety, try this: close your eyes, breathe in through your nose for the count of ten, hold your breath for five, then exhale slowly through your mouth for ten. Repeat this several times, sitting quietly with your eyes closed. Focus on your breathing. 

Remember, you are in control of your thoughts! Your thoughts and feelings do not control you unless you let them. Isn’t that a nice realization? Next time you find yourself stressed and anxious, try the above tips for dealing with those unpleasant feelings. 

What are your go-to stress relief techniques?

xo, Anna

A Case For Gratitude

There are moments in life when you are overcome with a sense of gratefulness - where you are totally consumed by a warm feeling of joy and thankfulness. It might be while watching a sunrise, or while holding a precious child. Maybe it’s when a family member or friend does something selfless or thoughtful for you. Or when you get a job that you’ve been dreaming about, or get engaged, or adopt a new puppy… No matter what causes it, there is no denying: gratitude is a good feeling.

But, for most people, that feeling of gratitude is short lived and only comes around every once in awhile when something special or exciting or extraordinary occurs. Think about how wonderful it would be to feel that sense of gratitude all of the time. Luckily, gratitude - that feeling of immense thankfulness and an awareness of the blessings in life - is something that can be cultivated through practice and through focus. It is a habit…a state of mind. You can set the intention to feel gratitude throughout each day. And the cool thing is, when you look for things to be grateful for in your life, you will find them…and you will realize that there are WAY more things in your life for you to be grateful for than you ever could have imagined. 

Cultivating a habit of gratefulness will lead to you viewing all of the beautiful - and even the not so beautiful at first glance - things in your life as gifts, and you will then see just how much you have been given in life. You will see that when you focus on being grateful for things (no matter how small) in every day, and on looking for the good in each situation, you will be much happier. Happiness is a choice: you can either choose to be happy, or to not be happy. In fact, it’s the simplest of choices. If you choose to be happy, then be happy! Gratitude can help to get you there. Even in the most unfortunate of circumstances, there are ways to look at a situation in which you can find things to be grateful for. And focusing on gratitude and the blessings and lessons in each moment of your day will contribute to your increased happiness.

Some great ways to cultivate a habit of gratitude include meditation, starting a gratitude journal, and doing a little check whenever you think of it by taking a moment to breathe deeply, close your eyes, and think of three things that you are grateful for. How can you not be happy when thinking about life’s blessings? If you are in a situation that feels scary, overwhelming, frustrating, depressing, infuriating, or hopeless…try to think of how the situation may in some way be a blessing. Maybe there is a lesson that can be learned? Maybe there is a chance to start new or to learn something about yourself? Maybe there is a chance to grow stronger? Maybe there is an opportunity to try something new or meet new people? Maybe there is a chance to reflect on something beautiful? I promise that if you LOOK for things to be thankful for…you can find them. And you will be happier, less stressed, and healthier for it. 

This is a great article on the health benefits of gratitude. Check it out here if you are interested!

How to you cultivate gratitude in your daily life?

xo, Anna