Monday, March 14, 2016

Why I Stopped Worrying About Staying Relevant

When I was pregnant and still working, I would daydream about being at home with my new baby. I loved my job, but I was excited and thankful to be a stay at home mom once the baby arrived. I pictured us playing, learning, and experiencing together. While those things did come to fruition, a lot of other things I didn’t expect also came into play. Feelings of fear, restlessness, and resentment started to creep into my days. I didn’t know why. I had everything I ever wanted…a beautiful baby and the opportunity to be a stay at home mom. Why was I not completely and absolutely fulfilled? After many months of contemplation and serious reflection, I figured it out. I was too worried about staying relevant.
Whether or not I was fully aware, I spent most of my pre-baby days working my butt off to stay relevant. Relevant at work, relevant in my social circle, relevant in my city. I wanted to be on the scene, in the loop, and on top of every new trend. I prided myself on knowing the coolest new places to eat and drink before everyone else. My friends came to me when looking for new music and book recommendations. Then the baby came and all of that grinded to a halt. Now my days were consumed with breastfeeding, diaper changes, and praying that I could sneak in a quick shower while the baby napped. I was totally and utterly irrelevant. To my disbelief, the world went on without me (and so did some of my friends). I felt like shouting from my front porch “Hey! I AM COOL! Believe me! I am SUPER cool!” But no one cared. People stopped coming to me for advice on dating and where to find the best happy hour.  

Being forced to shed your previous identity is tough. Really tough. I knew motherhood was no walk in the park, but nothing really prepared me for all the soul searching it would entail. I was ready and willing to put everything I had into motherhood, but all the baby books and classes in the world did not prepare me for the physical, mental, emotional, and social sacrifices that being a mother would require. When I was pregnant I constantly received unsolicited advice: “Oh honey, sleep while you can…This is going to completely change your life…You will never be the same…” But no one talked in-depth about the metamorphosis that I would have to fight through, while also caring for a newborn. I felt like Kate the Writer, Kate the Dancer, Kate the Teacher, Kate the Comedian, and Kate the Friend were all forgotten and from now on I would only ever be known as Kate the MOM.  
What I didn’t realize, however, was that turning into Kate the Mom would actually bring me the most reward. Once I stopped worrying about what I was missing out on and started focusing on being mindfully present, I gained a new kind of confidence and strength.  Becoming a mom taught me that I am enough. I don’t need to be the queen of the social scene in order to feel important.  My daughter deserves more. She deserves a mother who creates her own happiness and who practices gratitude.  And I am grateful. Grateful that becoming a mother pushed me out of my comfort zone and provided amazing opportunities for personal growth. Now, instead of wasting my energy worrying about staying relevant to everyone else, I spend my time working towards becoming the best version of myself. And you know what? I am still all of those things: a writer, a dancer, a teacher, a comedian, and a friend. I am all of those things and so much more. I didn’t need others to tell me that in order for it to be true.  



Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Three Easy Ways I Boost My Health

I guess I am going to stick with the 3 theme! There are 3 super simple things I do every day to help boost my metabolism, immune system, and overall health.  
First, I drink hot lemon water as soon as I wake up. Before I drink coffee, or brush my teeth, I head to the kitchen for this natural kick start. It really has been a life changer. I immediately feel more awake and I have noticed a difference in how I feel throughout the day. There are a lot of other proven benefits, too. Drinking hot lemon water immediately upon rising aids in digestion, helps the liver perform better, and gives your immune system a boost.  

You can check here for more information:
Second, I add turmeric to my smoothie, or to my hot lemon water. I will be honest, turmeric is an acquired taste. It is really bitter and sticks to the back of the throat. The good news is that a little goes a loooong way. You can purchase turmeric root at the grocery store, but I prefer to buy the ground powder (easily found on Amazon). Lately, turmeric has become quite trendy and I am not surprised. There is a long list of benefits, including its ability to act as an anti-inflammatory, increase the body’s antioxidants, and it has even been linked to improved brain function. If using turmeric root or powder is too strong for your liking, you can also find it in tea form.

This is a really in-depth article discussing the history and benefits of turmeric:

Third, I drink Apple Cider Vinegar before I go to bed each night. Disclaimer: it is disgusting. BUT, I have found a way to make it go down a little easier: pour a shot of ACV into a little glass of hot water and top it off with a squeeze of lemon. I still have to hold my nose and chug, but it is a thousand times better than trying to swallow it plain. Much like turmeric, ACV has also become quite trendy in recent years. Mostly because it has been known to aid in weight loss. It also can help with digestion, improve skin, help lower blood sugar, and reduce muscle cramps (which is nice after an intense workout).
Some sources stated that Apple Cider Vinegar was also good for a boost of energy, although I personally don't notice any change. Like I said, I take it before bed and have never had an issue falling asleep. Might be a good idea to do a few test runs though, before you take it at night. 

You can check out more information here:

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

3 Moves that Completely Changed my Body (AND Booty!)

Getting back into shape after baby = intense. I had to completely reevaluate the way I approached fitness in order to see results. The days of “oh, I will just run a mile-ish and then put on my skinny jeans” are long gone. I have had to work so so so hard. SO HARD. But the good news is that I am definitely stronger than I have ever been in my life and my endurance is through the roof. There is no way that 22 year old Kate could run my current routes/distances, or lift the amount of weight I lift on the daily (mostly because you would have found her at Polvos drinking margaritas and smoking Parliament Lights). I will probably dedicate a lot of upcoming posts to my fitness routine, because it really has been an ongoing process for the past 2+ years.

Today I wanted to share 3 moves that have completely changed my body. I also feel like these moves have helped me get over plateaus, which is especially important when working out on the regular.  And all of these moves are buildable, meaning I can continue to add more weight/variations and gain more muscle.
(*Let me preface this by saying like everything in life, do your own research. Know what works best for your body. Know the right form before you start any exercise.)
Split Squat:
This is a great booty builder and shaper. I really feel it in my glutes and hamstrings. Adding this variation, in addition to regular squats and lunges, has definitely made an impact. I usually use one of our kitchen table benches, but this can totally be modified.  Customize these lunges to your liking by adding weights. Just make sure that the knee in front never crosses over the toes.

Plank Slides:

I love core work that requires zero crunches, so I incorporate a lot of planks into my workout. I first learned these moves from Christine Salus, one of my favorite fitness gurus on YouTube (I will link some of her videos below). She uses Tupperware lids to slide, but I have found that diapers and pull-ups work great if you are on a hard surface. My favorite moves include sliding both knees to my chest, alternating knees to elbows, and sliding into jack feet. You can also slide into a pike and back out to plank. The combinations are endless, making it a great way to build your core without burnout. Sometimes I up the ante by adding ankle weights:

Kettlebell (or Dumbbell) Swings:

Swings have been a recent discovery and I am obsessed. Again, this is a move that I can continue to adapt by adding more weight for intensity.  Kettlebell (I use dumbbells) swings are also a MAJOR calorie burner. Some studies say that you can easily burn 250 calories in less than 20 minutes. Like most moves, the key to this one is mastering the correct form. This was actually a little tough for me, because I am so use to squats. My body immediately wanted to squat on the down swing, so I had to really focus in order to do it right. This video helped a lot:

These are just some of the exercises I incorporate into my daily workouts. I try to mix it up as much as possible, so that I continue to see progress. Here are a few of my favorite at home workouts, if you're interested:

This is one of Christine Salus' "Silent Workouts." It is low impact with zero jumping. These are great if you don't want to make noise, or if you need to take it easy on your joints.

This one is a super intense 1000 calorie burn HIIT workout. Occasionally I try to complete the whole thing, but mostly I just do a few segments:

Super quick full body HIIT:

And here are some kettlebell workouts that I like:

Like I said, I will continue to write about my post-baby fitness journey. Let me know if you have any specific questions; I am happy to share tips and tricks I have learned along the way!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Toddler Activities: A Few Favorites

Andrew and I made a decision pretty early on that we were going to stay away from battery operated toys for little A. Instead, we incorporate toys and activities that promote open-ended play. Now that she is a little older, I really like to think of myself as a facilitator. It's my job to set up an environment that promotes independent play and then I sit back and let her do her thing. So, I thought I would share a few of our go-to activities.

Stringing beads on pipe cleaners:

Scooping beans:

These two are especially easy and super budget friendly. I usually put down a plastic drop cloth to help catch spills and keep the beads and beans contained. Now that she is older, she is pretty good about keeping everything on the mat, but when she was younger this was our set up:

A little plastic pool was perfect for keeping beads and beans from ending up all over the room.

Treasure Box:

This is a fancy way of saying "Here, I put some random crap in this box. Have fun!" No, but really, what toddler doesn't love an empty box? Today I threw in some string, clips, crayons, and an empty art paper roll. This is what she came up with:
Land Ho!

Cutting and pasting:

This is probably her favorite daily activity. Andrew bought her safety scissors and after some practice we upgraded her to a regular little pair. Learning how to use scissors is really important for her development and motor skills. It helps build her tiny hand muscles, increases hand/eye coordination, and encourages bi-lateral coordination (using both sides of her body at the same time). There are a ton of helpful resources like this one, if you want more information:
I also now give her a glue stick, instead of a bottle, so she feels even more independent and doesn't have to ask me to help squeeze the glue.

This art easel was seriously the best investment, ever. It has a little tray that keeps all of her supplies organized and the other side is a chalkboard! The paper is also on a roller, making it really easy to switch to a new piece. I usually give her a mix of brushes and sponges to work with, but it never takes long before she switches to fingers and hands.
These have been some of little A's favorite activities throughout the past year, or so. They keep her entertained and allow for her to continuously brainstorm new ways to play.
If you want some more information on the benefits of open-ended play, check out these articles:

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Aaand we're back! (4 years later)

I am sad that I stopped writing this blog. I don’t really have a good excuse, either. Life got in the way? That sounds so cliché, but it’s true. Once I started teaching with Citizen Schools, it was hard to emotionally attach myself to anything else. But, alas! I am not currently teaching and my brain is constantly yelling at me to get some words onto the paper. So, here I am. We are no longer newlyweds and we are no longer in North Carolina, but I love this so much that I am debating even changing the name. North Carolina Newlyweds (in Leakey). That’ll do for now.
I will probably continue to write about similar things…vintage finds, fun DIY ideas, delicious recipes, etc.  But I will also incorporate new topics that are important to me now, like motherhood, fitness, and anti-aging face creams.

Speaking of face creams, why don’t we just jump right in? I feel like in the past couple of years I have tried 86984593845 face products, from high end to drug store.  And you know what remains my ride or die? 100% all natural rosehip oil. I have tried a few different brands, but I always seem to come back to these two:

This has been my favorite so far. The consistency is so nice and it doesn’t take long at all to absorb.

This is my second favorite. The only thing I don’t love about this one is that it has an amber tint, so I have to make sure it’s soaked in completely before doing anything  (like putting my head down on the pillow at night).
As far as routine goes, I usually apply rosehip oil after I wash my face in the morning, after I get out of the shower, and before I go to bed at night. I have combination skin, normal to dry, but I feel like I lean more towards the dry side. Using this oil completely repairs my dry skin and gives me an amazing glow. It is also great for combating fine lines and sun damage. I am personally not prone to break outs, so I have never had a problem in that regard. I really just love the way it makes my skin look and feel. Plus it is all natural, which is hard to beat. 

Sticking with the all natural theme, I have also recently fallen back in love with Juice Cosmetics. I first discovered this brand when I found out I was pregnant and started becoming more aware of the types of products that were soaking into my skin. Back then I tried their tinted moisturizer and was pretty pleased with the results.
Pros: SPF 30, all natural, gives a nice glow.
Cons: Super thick and hard to blend, strong clay smell.

I found that this works best when I mix in a few drops of my rosehip oil, or mix it on the back of my hand with another one of my moisturizers. Also, a little goes a long way, which makes the price tag of $29 a little easier to deal with.

The other Juice product that I just recently tried for the first time is their CC Cream and I am really loving it.
Pros: SPF 30, easier to blend, a little goes a long way (I'm talking pea size amount), saw results just after a few uses, I AM GLOWING.
Cons: Clay smell.

I am really feeling this stuff. I swear it instantly made my skin brighter and more even. It is so good that I literally threw on some bronzer/blush over it and was ready to roll. I will definitely be purchasing this again in the future.

I really have stepped up my skin care routine now that I am in my 30's, so I will continue to post about my successes (and fails) when it comes to trying new products. Also, feel free to share some of your favs!

Until, next time! (I am so happy to be writing again, seriously.)