I Want a New Tattoo.

IMG_4762It’s been cooler lately. Rainy. Summer is whispering her last secrets through the weeds and over the lakes, through the tips of trees and on my cheek. In the mornings I run with a long-sleeved shirt and feel my legs shiver until they move enough to get warm. I cover E’s legs with an extra blanket and wonder constantly about whether or not to pack a hat. Feel his cheeks with the back of my hand, check to make sure his hands and chest are warm. I look forward to showing him the seasons, to seeing them change and seeing them through his eyes.

Fall has always been my favorite time of year, I’m usually aglow with excitement for the season to come. But.My mom has always said that fall makes her melancholy. The season she most loves is coming to an end, the dark and cold of winter loom ever-more-present, lurk in the mornings and evenings. And while I’ve never been a fan of winter, I embrace fall with a wide smile and open arms.

I’m still smiling at the changing of season, but I’m approaching this fall with awareness that in a way, a season of my life has come to an end. My heart has been broken in a way that I can’t explain yet, but can’t deny.

IMG_4854Nature is so good at growth and change. A season comes with small simple announcements. A shifting of color, expression. No wailing, no fighting back tears, no wasting time in rewind. No fitting in to expectations or meeting strict deadlines. No forsaking her soul to be what someone else needs or thinks she should be. But ALWAYS on time. And ALWAYS is enough, gives so much–each and every day. Nature doesn’t adorn herself with accessories or accoutrements. Nature faces each season nakedly. Openly. Embracing whatever difficulties time may bring and then carries on.

I’m trying.

These are trying times. Times I am trying and failing. Weeping in quiet, crying in the shower–when and if I can get them. Tired eyes. Tired, wrinkled, heavy skinned, dry eyes searching for signs of life and hope. And here’s where I am lucky. In this season of brokenness is so much beauty. So much life–in my son and in him hope. Hope that I can summon the strength and carry on to show him what a strong woman is each day. To show him joy in spite of my pain. To show him life, and how it changes–even when I’m not sure I like parts of my life and how they have changed. In this time I am given a gift–a constant reminder to never lose hope, to never stop trying, to never cease to fall to my knees and pray a prayer of thanksgiving. I get this gift everyday.

God is meeting me more than half way. Making me into a mother, crafting the seasons to shape me into something more beautiful (even if I’m less “pretty”) every single day.

IMG_4794I want a new tattoo. To remind me. If I were more rested, maybe I wouldn’t need a reminder, but I am weary and can’t sleep. So when I say this on Pinterest during a late night nursing session, something stirred in me:

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The Archer knows His mark. Weary and weathered, broken-hearted and strung tight against the dividing line, I can’t lose sight. Not now. With so much of my little one’s and my life on the line. So each day we will run at sunrise, and walk at sunset. And in the most trying times, the most weary and disheartening days, I will keep my eyes open to the mark, keep my heart alert for the Maker’s message:

IMG_4834It’s all going to be alright.

With Love from Colorado,

Keri

 

A Day in Eating

IMG_4714Breakfast on the porch. Peaches are in season this time of year, and I can’t get enough of them. A couple days a week, I’ve been enjoying this Peaches & Cream Smoothie:

1 Banana

1/2 large peach

1ish cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk

1 scoop your favorite protein powder ( I use Vega or Sunwarrior most often)

Topped with a pinch of home-made quinoa granola (Recipe to come)

 

Then post 40 minute yoga workout, I had this classic snack along with coffee and a splash of coconut creamer:

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3 stalks celery

1.5 TBSP crunchy Peanutbutter

 

Lunch was this protein and fiber rich mess of veggies, lentils and grains:

IMG_4725Baby Kale topped with Oh She Glows Protein Power  Goddess Bowl. Since it’s from her cookbook, I won’t post the recipe, but know it includes spelt berries, lentils, tomatoes, red onion, more kale, & this awesome garlicky, lemony tahini dressing. I omitted the sundried tomatoes from her blogpost in the link above–I don’t remember seeing them in the recipe?!

Not pictured: 3/4 cup green grapes & a small handful (1/3ish cup size) Boulder BBQ potato chips. My weakness is Boulder brand potato chips. The struggle is real y’all.

In between 8 million loads of laundry, reading board-story books 900 times, chasing my little guy away from the fireplace, I snuck in a 20 minute strength workout. I know 20 minutes doesn’t sound like much, but I always surprise myself by how many squats, side lunges, box jumps, plank-core work, tricep dips, and modified burpees I can get in. And because I got in this 20 minute workout I rewarded myself.

IMG_4746With an Honest Tea (Assam) and a Chocolate truffle at checkout when we went to Whole Foods. Also, this was the first ride in the shopping cart instead of being worn for my little guy. He was pretty excited. :)

Dinner:

IMG_47562-3 handfuls of Arugula, topped with grilled corn on the cob, 1/2 grilled peach,  3 tbsp raw pumpkin seeds, Annie’s pommegranate dressing (1 tbsp), 1 slice–halved of french baguette topped with an TON of  Red Lentil Spread. It’s a staple in my house, I make it every week:

1.5 cups red lentils cooked until they are pretty mushy

Juice of 1 lemon

2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 garlic clove, minced

sea salt, black pepper & paprika to taste

Throw all ingredients (but 1/2 cup cooked lentils into blender, mix in the half cup after–for texture)

Keeps in the fridge for about 4 days–maybe longer, but it never lasts longer around here. It’s a nice alternative to hummus, although I have my fair share of that too!

 

So there you have it! A typical day of my “diet”, but I prefer to call it a lifestyle. Eating like this, along with running, yoga, and strength has helped me lose weight slowly, fit into my old clothes, and feel strong post-pregnancy. I will say that this may not work for people who might not fit physical activity in their day, and I eat extra while breastfeeding. Hope this helps–either for your own health goals or just gives you some ideas for what to whip up in your kitchens!

xo.

Keri

A Weightloss Story.

20140628-152808-55688870.jpg*The above pictures were taken when I was 8 months pregnant (I got EVEN bigger) and around 5ish months post partum. My son will be 7 months on Thursday, and I am now 9 pounds lighter than in the picture on the right. I gained 50 pounds during my pregnancy (while working out daily & eating healthy, albeit A LOT). I’ve lost 47 pounds total as of this morning.

When I started this blog, my intentions were to share my passion and knowledge about health, fitness, yoga, and Ayurveda. I’ve cashed in my retirement and paid for more alternative licensing programs when it comes to alternative, natural, crunchy healthstyles than I want to admit. I haven’t been writing about any of it. Because.

Because 5 Things:

1. There are like a bajillion and one health blogs out there already. There are equally as many mommy blogs about healthy living out there too. Why add another conflicting voice to the mix of diet dos and don’ts.

2. Everyone is all hopped up on the Paleo punch these days, and I have some misgivings about that diet.

3.Though I’ve made money being a health coach, I often feel terrible taking money to help people because if they just spent time doing research and following through, they could get a lot of what I give for free. (Although I get not having much extra time these days….)

4. I’m so frustrated with health and fitness. I’m passionate about sharing what I know and what has worked for me. But I am deeply frustrated that the health & fitness industry seems to largely perpetuate unhealthy attitudes when it comes to physical perfection. Fitspo isn’t any psychologically less damaging than thinspo.

5. I haven’t been nearly as committed to nutrition and fitness post-baby. I went from running 5+ days a week, teaching 3 yoga classes & practicing 2+ times a week at home, & strength-training 2+ times a week to doing far less. During my pregnancy I walked. Every day I walked. I did yoga 2 times a week and strength training 1-2 times a week. I feel good about this. But post pregnancy, I had planned to do much more than I have. This planning I did was pre-baby, a time when I severely underestimated just how TIRED I would be.

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But.

But I am still passionate about healthy living. I still really want to help other women, other mothers with their health and fitness goals. So, without knowing any of your individual goals or needs (I believe health & fitness mean different things for each person & health & wellness goals should have individualized plans to be followed), here are 5 things that have helped me to start feeling strong & health again–especially over the last three months:

1. Running. I do not run far or fast. Fitness isn’t my main reason for running. I run because it gives me energy. I run because it’s one of the most effective ways to fight post partum depression and anxiety for me. And when I feel strong and energized from running, it makes choosing health so much easier. I run 3 days a week. 2-3 miles, with the stroller. I’ve gone on 3 runs alone, without baby. There just isn’t time for me to focus on me alone right now. You do what you can, right?

2. Eating real, mostly plant-based foods. If I can’t pronounce an ingredient or don’t know what it is, I don’t eat it. I strongly believe that the chemicals and franken-foods out there (especially weight-loss foods) often interfere with hormones, are not healthy, and make it impossible to lose “the-last-10-pounds.”  Also, I breastfeed & don’t want to expose my little guy to more chemicals than he inevitably is each day. If y’all are interested, I’ll take pictures of and post what I eat in a typical day. If so, let me know in the comments.

3. Cooking food at home. Eating out and eating packaged foods is convenient–especially when you are pressed for time, even more so when your significant other eats completely different from you. But cooking food at home means you control what goes in, cooking at home nourishes us through our other senses (sight & smell), and it’s a grounding activity–something most of us need in a hectic world. On Sundays, I usually will cook up 1-2 big “salads” that contain lentils, beans, veggies, and some sort of grain. I top green salads with this for lunch or quick dinners throughout the week. I make my husbands meals each evening, unless we have a busy day planned & then I let my crockpot do the work.

4. Strength-training. I don’t go to the gym to work out. I do yoga 2-4 times a week during naps. This helps to ground, strengthen and calm me. It also affects our nervous systems, another type of medicine for ppd. I count yoga as strength and flexibility training for my body and mind, but it’s not all I do.  Usually on my walks or runs, Easton falls asleep and I do stroller strength-training until he wakes up afterwards. Sometimes it’s 5 minutes, sometimes it’s 30, but I do this 5 days a week. I may post exercises that I’ve come up with on here if there is interest. Let me know!

5. Breastfeeding. I’m quite sure that breastfeeding has helped me lose the weight a little more quickly than I might have if I weren’t breastfeeding. Especially in the first few months. The first 30 pounds came off pretty quick. The last 17 have been slower and taken more work–strength training, smart snacking, running, moving more. I see the work as a way of life that I am showing my son. I want him knowing a strong mom who is active and healthy and ready to play. I want him knowing the joy that comes from feeling strong, from eating healthy home-cooked meals, that comes from making fitness a part of everyday.

And I guess I want to share it with you too. Because how awesome would it be to have a world full of strong moms who fit health and movement into everyday?!

xo.

Keri

 

 

 

 

 

 

Campfires, Crickets, Boobs, Babies and Faith.

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Sorry it’s been so quiet around here! We went on another camping trip–better prepared this time around. :)  We also camped in cabins–they didn’t have running water, and evenings were spent around campfires, so I still consider it camping. It was beautiful.

We camped on the Missouri River in South Dakota. We spent our days with my husband’s side of the family at the Oahe Dam and evenings on the river watching fish jump and sharing stories and burnt marshmallows aglow with firelight. The image above was morning from the deck of our cabin. Sigh, so peaceful, right?

Crickets. So quiet you could hear them. Not there, on the river. Here, on this health & fitness turned mommy blog. Not just in the last week while we were away, but during the last 6 months since I’ve had this baby. I’ve been really quiet about one particular thing. It’s the thing I spend most of my days (and nights-still!) doing.

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No, I’m not talking about wearing my baby as I am in the picture above. Although we do a lot of that. What we do, we sometimes do while I wear him though….

Nursing. I prefer to call it this, but it’s World Breastfeeding Week, so let’s call a boob a boob and nursing breastfeeding. This, THIS, is what we do. A lot. As in every 2 hours or less for the last 6 months a lot. Through the night too. He still doesn’t really know what to do with a bottle. Give one to him, and he will hold it & bite at it like a chew toy, but he doesn’t really drink from it. So we nurse–er, breastfeed. All. The. Dang. Time.

Which is funny because before baby, I always thought breastfeeding was kind of weird. Gross even. When I was pregnant, I’d read and heard that breast is best. So I planned to pump. Pumping, I thought, would be a decent middle ground. My baby could still get the benefits of breastmilk, but my breasts wouldn’t have to have a baby attached to them. Also, I could see and be sure how much my baby would be getting, so I wouldn’t have to worry about whether or not he was getting enough.

Typical naivety of a non-parent on thinking pumping would be perfect. Typical societal conditioning of a person who grew up with mothers, sisters, and sisters-in-law who formula fed thinking breastfeeding was weird. And before I go on, I want to pause here and SHOUT I am in no way trying to call out formula feeding mothers as bad mothers. We are all doing the best we can, right? Right.

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However, because of my formula feeding families, formula feeding friends, and much of society, I became a breastfeeding mother who was uncomfortable with breastfeeding. Especially in public. Also, I’m a modest mom. So, I’ve spent much of the last 6 months inside. I’ve spent much of the last 6 months planning outings around perceived possible nursing times. I’ve nursed in the back of my car on hot days. I’ve nursed with the car running, doors locked, in the backseat on the hottest days. I’ve clung to a cover with my sons hands waving wildly around trying to swipe it away because eating under a blanket in the summer is just so much fun! I’ve been sentenced to spend much of my weekends with family in another room. I’ve felt isolated and lonely. I’ve felt angry and irritated. I’ve felt afraid.

At the same time, I’ve felt more proud of my body than I ever have. It grew a baby inside of it for 41 weeks and then nourished that baby for the last 6 months by making milk. It makes me feel powerful and feminine and natural and even beautiful. Me–the constant self critic–especially when it comes to my body.

The duality of these emotions has been a huge source of stress for me. Has made something that should just be natural and normal and beautiful into something that’s seemingly shameful at times. So this past weekend was even more beautiful and magical because of all of that. Because in the midst of a mostly formula feeding family, for the first time, I nursed my baby outside. In the midst of one who once voiced how an image of a mother breastfeeding in public wasn’t something that should be done, I stayed outside.

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In the cool evening breeze, underneath this wise old cottonwood tree, I sat and nursed my hungry son to sleep. It was the most beautiful feeling on the most beautiful evening I have experienced in the last 6 months. In fact, it rivaled our wedding. And like the wedding, it was preceded by weeks of worrying and planning how it would be done–not the nursing outside–the nursing in a hot car or under a hot cover or a quarter mile down the road at our cabin with a crying baby for that whole walk. All that worry for nothing. Nothing but doing the most natural thing IN nature.

I feel like I have finally come home.

xo.

Keri

PS. Not a nipple was shown.

This Is Not A Competition.

20140728-171755-62275846.jpgWe spent part of the weekend by the water. We, or I at least, spent the weekend reflecting. When I was pregnant, I kept having a dream I would give birth to a bear cub. Blame it on weird hormones or wild premonition. Lately my little one has been growling. I mean, for real. Like a little bear cub. And I am his Mama bear.

One of my favorite children’s books from when I was a kid was Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey. I hadn’t read it in ages, but shared it with my little bear this weekend. In the story, the babies get mixed up while picking berries on the mountain. Both Mamas are busy with their berry picking and turn around to notice that their baby is missing. The babies look up from play to realize that the wrong mother is standing there–the bear cub sees a human mother and the child sees a mama bear. Of course, both babies find their way back into their mamas’ arms at the end. The illustrations are fantastic, and the story is one I want to read again and again. I hope E will continue to like to hear it as he did this past weekend.

The story got me thinking though. About us Mamas and about my little bear. I’d heard the phrase “Mommy Wars” but never paid it much mind. I’d like to say that I still don’t, but I can’t help but notice other mothers since becoming one. Since becoming a mother, since quitting my job and taking on this new title of Stay at Home Mom, I seek them out. Especially in the beginning when I was so full of anxiety, so scared. Over six months, I’ve learned to let go a little–but there is still a lot of fear. Am I doing this right? Am I being the best mother I can? Is my child growing into a healthy, well-adjusted, happy little boy? He seems to be. Are we on the right track?

There is still a lot of fear and often a lot of loneliness. My days are spent together with my son, but I sometimes feel so isolated. So alone in this new role of Mom. There are days when the only adult I talk to is my husband and my own mom via phone. When we are out, I seek other mothers, make eye contact and smile silently. Even without words, there is a silent recognition that we are not alone. Or at least I feel that way.

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And then there are the handful of other new mommy friends. We meet up randomly for walks and coffee. We text during late night feedings. We watch one another’s lives via facebook and instagram. We connect with words, and we war silently. Well, sometimes I feel that way….

Certain words and ways they are said make me feel as if by becoming a mother, I have unknowingly entered into some sort of fierce competition. Initially, I was scared and seeking out other mothers so I could know I wasn’t alone in my sleeplessness. So I could see that my child was all right. But in certain circumstances, it seems that there is a battle going on for whose child is winning at sitting or crawling or standing or talking, and whomever’s child does something first is proof that that mother is doing things right.

I felt this recently with another mommy “friend”, and I started thinking about the ways we might be getting things mixed up as we move up this mountain. Picking out the juiciest bits of information and darkest secrets about others via what they share and storing them away to sustain our fears—well, at least my child doesn’t do or does this better. At least I don’t do that, at least I am doing this mom thing right.  I hate to say it, but it’s making me a little bitter. Making me want to spend my days alone. With only my son and husband.

Making me worry that if–even by noticing this competition, by allowing myself to see it—he will be judged and critiqued and compared just for being. And I want him to BE. To be able to BE what he wants and who he is unapologetically. I want him to crawl when he’s ready.To read when he’s ready. To pick a sport or art or craft or passion and follow it  in the way that is right for him. I want him to sit and breathe and know that he doesn’t have to do or be or have like others. I want him to know that he can just breathe and be alive and be loved and happy because of it.

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I can’t help but notice the competitive vibes and hear the excitement when they see that I might not be doing something “right.”  And it’s hard to help the protective urge and surge of anger rising in my chest in response to it all. Go ahead and grow at your own pace little boy. Growl little cub. I will be your Mama bear.

What does it mean to be a Mama bear? As symbol, bear is seen to be brave, powerful, peace, motherhood and show duality. Bears can teach us patience –hibernating with our plans and ideas and thoughts. Bears can teach us fierce power–rising up within our being to fight for our beliefs and convictions. Bears can teach us to be protectors–caring wildly for our young. Bears can teach us about duality in nature–sleeping peacefully and waking, almost a map of how to resurrect oneself throughout the course of life. Asleep only to wake again and again–ready for another season of life.

Maybe I’m not getting all of this mother thing right. I certainly hear other mothers criticizing about how I need to sleep train or pacify or bottle feed from the side-lines. They all have brilliant babies. I certainly see and feel the judgement flicker from behind watchful eyes. I see you, and now I must stand up within myself and face my fears and anxiety that to do what is right as a mother, I must do what is natural to me. I must be brave and powerful about my actions and know the peace that comes from living that kind of life.  I am awake. I am learning. And we are alive.

With Love from Colorado,

Keri

 

How NOT To Go Camping With Your Baby

20140723-132007-48007482.jpg1. Pack you, your significant other’s, and child’s entire closet, two coolers worth of food, tent, camping gear, half your house, but forget your camera. Be forced to use your phone to record the first trip and rely on the pictures Grandma takes with her camera that you know will most likely stay on her camera along with your wedding pictures from two years ago.

2. Have panic attacks about your baby’s sun exposure at elevation, cover him with a blanket in the warm afternoon sun. Do this even after you’ve applied tiny dabs of zinc oxide based sunscreen because you refuse to apply it to any place that might reach his constantly open mouth for fear of poisoning him with the sunscreen’s other ingredients.

20140723-132006-48006854.jpg3. Spend the entire first evening around the fire catching by hand every mosquito that flies in the vicinity of your precious little one. Learn that you are at an elevation too high for West Nile to Survive & loosen up your mosquito watch only to let your baby get a cluster of bites on his forehead the next morning.

20140723-132003-48003737.jpg4. Buy the Geranium Essential Oil based bug spray. It smells beautiful and the mosquitos agree. Refuse to put DEET on your almost 6 month old, so opt for a mosquito net from the tackle shop next to the lake instead. Your baby will think this is a great new fun game of peek-a-boo. For half an hour. Spend the next 30 minutes passing it around the campfire and pretend it’s a wedding veil.

20140723-132002-48002766.jpg5. Chase after a black bear your brother sees while on his hike, only to have him visit your camp later in the night. Clean up your dinner “dishes” and any food, but leave out your football and smelly tacklebox to play with. Be grateful he only left teeth marks on the ball and box and a paw print on the car window.

20140723-132005-48005630.jpg6. Do not leave your baby under the care of Grandpa and Grandma so you can take the pink canoe out for a spin on the lake under a GORGEOUS Colorado sky.

7. Let your baby, who is sensitive to any dairy you eat, have a small bite of ice-cream from cute store by the lake. Enjoy a night of little sleep and lots of gas.

8. Panic when your baby bites a strap on his stroller and starts bleeding a little from his mouth. There is only enough blood to tinge pink a quarter sized bite the white blanket he sucks on instead, but worry that he is very hurt. Ignore his giant grin:

20140723-132004-48004013.jpg9. Be forced to notice his grin and learn that he has cut his first tooth. Wonder for too long if that’s what caused the blood, miss the beauty of the flowers blooming around you.

20140723-132004-48004793.jpg10. Only relax by the last day you are there. Finally see the blue in the sky, calm and stillness of the water, gentleness of the breeze, giggle from your babies lips, love from your family. Look back on the weekend and hold onto that moment and a handful of others, and VOW to yourself: Next time I WILL relax.

20140723-132004-48004309.jpgWith Love from Colorado,

Keri

Happy Campers

20140720-175158-64318991.jpgSorry I’ve been quiet lately. We went on our first camping trip. It was beautiful and fun and a definite learning experience! I’ll have plenty more to write about this week–my mind has been spinning with soooo much to say. (Balancing being mom & wife, exercise as medicine, 10 ways to be a more beautiful new mom, what NOT to do when you take you baby camping……)

But for today, I have mountains of laundry, camping gear, soggy food from the cooler and a baby who just sprouted his first tooth (and turned 6 months) to take care of. In the mean time, something I wrote was published! Check it out here:

http://www.elephantjournal.com/2014/07/motherhood-is-crazy-keri-hanson/

20140720-175158-64318652.jpg20140720-175157-64317852.jpgWith Love from Colorado.

Keri