band aidOn the playground there can unfortunately be many accidents both big and small.  Often there is no ice or first aid immediately available.  This is a simple first aid visualization one can use to help soothe a child until (you) can get home.  Of course for major injuries call 911 or go to the hospital or call your pediatrician.  This is for minor injuries that require TLC (Tender loving care) and a band aid (aka boo-boo’s and ouchies:)

When there is an accident often for moments long after the actual incident took place, people are coming up to you with concern asking what happened?  Then you are forced along with your child to go over it again and again for them.  This keeps the child returning to that painful or scary incident and not moving forward into the healing.  I have personally observed this and actually heard one dad shout out ‘hey, call a plastic surgeon”.  He was of course using humor to alleviate the situation but it was a little brash for a three year old and her mom.

For an excellent explanation of why we instinctively rub on an injury(not an open wound) see below:

“In 1965 the “Gate Control Theory” was proposed by Melzack and Wall.  It explained the relationship between pain and emotion.  According to this theory, there is a hypothetical gating mechanism occurring at the level of the spinal chord- a “gate” through which pain impulses reach the lateral spinothalmic system.  Painful impulses are transmitted by large-diameter and small diameter nerve fibers.  Stimulation of large-diameter fibers prevents the small-diameter fibers from transmitting signals.  Stimulating (rubbing, massaging) these fibers helps to suppress the sensation of pain, especially sharp pain.  Many parents and small children seem to know this instinctively.  They rub the injured spot, thus activating large-diameter fibers.  These fibers also carry a faster signal.  In essence, massage sensations win the race to the brain, and the pain sensations are blocked out because the gate is closed.” Source:  Mosby’s Fundamentals of Therapeutic Massage by Sandy Fritz

Here’s a technique to use when you want to help your child move past the accident and feel empowered that they are on their way to feeling better.  Explain to them that they have teeny tiny microscopic helpers inside their bodies that are working right now to help them feel better.  Explain ‘microscopic” as so tiny that you can’t see them (it is very cute to hear them pronounce microscopic).  There are thousands even millions of them.  This gives them a positive image to hang on to if they are still replaying the initial injury and pain in their minds over and over.  This constant replaying of the accident can also be a reaction from well meaning people asking what happened and then having to explain it as your child relives “the spill”.  Now they can respond how they have microscopic helpers and feel more empowered.  It also gives them something positive to focus on rather than the accident itself.

Using our imagination to call upon imagery for healing is very powerful.  Remember that this is scientific.  Leukocytes (white blood cells) rush to an injured area to help heal it.  These microscopic helpers are in fact helping us on a consistent basis (unless there is a pathology wherein they are compromised).  In healthy functioning blood they are essential in recovering from injury.  This is a great first Biology lesson and may help them in connecting scientific principles to every day life.  Using this knowledge empowers the child by being able to answer back to concerned adults-“I have microscopic helpers helping me and I am feeling better and better.”  “Better and better” is a phrase used in the Silva Method of Mind Techniques.  This technique is extremely useful in helping to have tools to use our minds in positive and powerful ways.  See website for more info www.silvamethod.com.

Staying in the present moment is useful for anyone recovering from injury and replacing a negative experience with a positive image is very useful in returning to a stronger , more well-functioning place both physically and mentally.

loosing pregnancy weight

In western culture, there is pressure and also a desire to lose pregnancy weight as fast as possible. It often seems that a woman is somehow more noble and has it all together if she can manage to get back to her pre-pregnancy weight in a month or so! Some women do and that’s good, but there are so many factors to consider such as nursing, hormones, metabolism, diet, exercise…etc. Whether delivery was a c-section or vaginal is also considered to be an important variable. I’m not suggesting that one should not try to lose the pregnancy weight-I just think we should be very patient and kind to ourselves, our bodies and our self-esteem-they have just been through A LOT! The fat gives us energy we need to breastfeed and care for our babies. We burn 500 calories a day in order to produce milk.

We see magazines with movie stars who’ve lost their weight in a miraculously short time period and hold that up as our standard. Let’s remember that most of them have personal trainers, nannies and a personal chef to cook their diet. Also, they are in an intensely competitive field and there livelihood depends a great deal on their image. So in a way they DO have that pressure to live up to.

Our bodies are our babies environment too even after birth. Imagine your baby holding on to you-which they love to do as often as possible! Doesn’t it seem to be the way nature intended that we should be soft and fleshy so our babies feel comfortable adjusting into this new environment/world? Try pinching your belly and lovingly consider it your “scoochieness” for them for a while!” My brother said something very kind to me at this stage when I was fretting about losing the weight. He said, “You have the rest of your life to lose the weight just enjoy this time with your baby.” His point really struck a true note for me. It is such a special, brief moment in our lives when they are so small and so dependent on us, so why waste a second condemning ourselves for not being thin!

I did walk regularly and used a Pilates videos almost every day when I felt up to it.  Sarah Picot’s video, Postnatal Pilates is excellent and only around 25 minutes long.  She promotes interaction with your baby as you are exercising.   I think I developed stronger “core” muscles than before I was pregnant. My arms and legs have gotten stronger from carrying my baby often. Muscle weighs more than fat so don’t trust the scale. Going by the way your clothes are fitting is a more accurate measure. Of course if you have a medical condition follow your doctor’s advice on weight management. Cardiovascular exercise is a key component to weight loss-try investing in a treadmill, elliptical machine or  a stationary bicycle for your home. Use them as a temporary alternative to the gym since it can be challenging to find the time to get back there!  You can also put on some favorite music and gently dance with your baby.

Remember, most people are focused on your baby now and if you are into baby wearing like I am, those carriers do wonders for hiding that post pregnancy ponch!  Furthermore, wearing your baby has many other physical and psychological benefits.  To read about all the “Attachment Parenting” Rewards (see Dr. Sears website). There are many different carriers available.  My husband and I use the Ergobaby and absolutely love it.

My point is to encourage women to not be so hard on themselves especially at a time when they deserve all the patience and compassion they are giving to their baby or babies. It is a healthy pattern to begin now to model for them a good sense of self-esteem. How we treat ourselves shows them how to treat themselves in the future. Try giving yourself the same compassion and you will probably not even notice the weight coming off. Exercise regularly, eat a balanced diet and drink plenty of water. Weight Watchers is an amazing organization to help with sensible weight loss after pregnancy and can help set up great habits for your whole life as well as that of your children.

I am still about five pounds from my pre-pregnancy weight and I am gently conscious of it falling off.  Being a nursing mother of an eight month old and an active member of La Leche League, I know I need the extra cushion for energy to generate milk production. There is a saying that “it takes nine months to put on—it can take nine months to take off.” So I feel I’m on track. That saying really helped me be patient and realistic.

So, remember what a truly beautiful time this is and keep your focus on health and balance for you and your whole family. I heard the Dalai Llama speak once and he said “the better you take care of yourself, the better you will take care of others.” What a perfect quote for motherhood.

dark chocolateWe have all heard how dark chocolate is now “good” for us.  This was hard to believe at first but the more we learn about dark chocolate (cacao) the more healthful benefits are discovered.  This can be a dangerous bit of information if taken at face value.  We need to use the products that are pure raw cacao with it listed as the first ingredient.  Children generally love chocolate and chocolate treats.  Why not make them a healthy option?

On a personal note I began craving chocolate shortly after the birth of my second child.  Throughout my pregnancy I had anemia (an iron deficiency).   Dark chocolate, as I discovered has a high iron and magnesium content.  The body often craves what it needs and nursing and pregnancy come with a great deal of demands on the body.  Chocolate is also known to have a great anti-depressive effect on the brain.  This could be useful in staving off post-pardum depression.  In moderation, quality raw dark chocolate may be an excellent antidote to several issues regarding pregnancy and birth.  I do not feel my cravings for chocolate were a coincidence.

Often as parents we may not have the time and energy to develop complicated recipes.  Or we may be interested in cooking but feel intimidated.   It is important to teach our children an accessible way of appreciating and creating  good health.  By having a positive experience around cooking you are setting a strong foundation of good nutrition for life.  What better way to start than with chocolate?

I chose Navitas Naturals for my chocolate experiment because this company makes it easy and accessible to create chocolate concoctions.  Their website www.navitasnaturals.com is filled with excellent information and recipes.  It is a great resource for many of the super foods not only chocolate.  I called them directly as a consumer -confused as to why the Cacao Nibs I had purchased were not melting.  OK, I was stuck at home after a blizzard-craving hot chocolate and had some time on my hands.  Their customer service was very helpful and I began to enjoy these unsweetened cacao nibs in yogurt while I patiently awaited my cacao powder and Chocolate Kit to arrive.  Navitas products are available at Whole Foods and at the Vitamin shoppe as well as other smaller health food stores.

The Chocolate Kit by Navitas Naturals took all of 15 minutes to create our own home-made chocolate.  It involved a very light clean up as well. We used one that contained Golden Berries… another Superfood.  They have a tangy flavor that compliments the deep, rich chocolate flavor.  We used a little raw sugar granules which added  extra sweetness and a crunchy texture.  The result was a delicious, tart, and highly nutritious treat .   The cacao powder was even easier to use.  Simply melt in simmering milk and there you have some healthy hot chocolate easy-breezy!  My toddler loved this recipe-and so did I.

Sweet Chocolate Nibs come with a warning that you may not be able to stop.  They are a crunchy, sweet “good for you” snack.  Unsweetened Raw Cacao Nibs might taste unusual at first, but will certainly grow on you.  Eventually one may like them in shakes, yogurt etc.  They do not melt which is how my journey began.  The nibs add a crunchy texture.  They are also a good way for diabetics to enjoy and reap the many benefits that cacao has to offer.

Dr Andrew Weil on the virtues of incorporating Dark Chocolate into the diet:  “In this realm of antioxidant rich additives to the diet the one that looks best of all is dark chocolate.   It has greater antioxidant activity than either red wine or green tea and I’m not talking about truffles or chocolate candy.   Plain Dark Chocolate with a minimum cocoa content of 70%.  That should be the first ingredient, cocoa solids or chocolate liquor, not sugar.  If you’re eating 70% cocoa content or higher that’s got a very low glycemic load, it is a perfectly acceptable sweet treat and substitute for desserts that have less healthy things in them.  A moderate portion of dark chocolate on a regular basis is very healthy.”

For more on navitasnaturals, visit http://www.navitasnaturals.com

What parent with an active toddler hasn’t complained about “toys being all over the floor?”  A person can’t imagine the constant hurricane-state a home can become with an active toddler residing in it until they live with one.  Trying different solutions and rushing to Ikea or Bed, Bath and Beyond for the latest in organizational kids storage solutions does not work.  The Container Store has not helped either.  Why is kids storage so impossible?  When one puts all the toys away the toddler comes back and seems to say, “look at all the work I have to do to get all my toys back out and onto the floor!”

Then there is the issue of your own stuff gradually having to be moved higher and higher out of the little bandit’s reach.  With books and photos constantly being shoved into closets and breakables stashed away in cupboards your place begins to feel as if it caving in on you.  Finding kids storage solutions can be a daunting task.

Here’s a solution:

Be grateful and surrender to this new situation.   There will be a time when you won’t have toys all over your floor and you will miss it.  Kids storage issues will be a distant memory.  Embracing this special time in ones life is better than fighting it.  Doing the once a day sweep of the place is part of being an over-tired parent.  Think of it as the blessing that it is can replace frustration with the true humor that this new circumstance is.

I often think of it as the baby de-cluttering and making space for their life with us.  As I put away old photo albums and a lot of my old school books I think,  “well this makes space on the shelves for their stuff.”  Once they are in school there will be books and drawings and of course more toys to place on the shelves.  Practicing simplifying and de-cluttering is a healthful and lifelong pursuit.  (Please see my article on feng shui).

Also, not to be too dark but many, many couples cannot have children and would give anything to have such a problem as kids storage.

Try having less things on the walls to create some space for your eyesight. Negative space can be a place to rest your eyes.

So, welcome your new interior decorator as this time will pass quickly and it will be looked back on with nostalgia.