Tag Archives: health

Meet Mahri Relin, Founder of Body Conceptions

We recently had the opportunity to partner with the Founder of Body Conceptions, Mahri Relin, whose dedication and hard work is helping women through her dance-inspired cardio workouts. Learn more about her technique and journey through our Q&A below.

Q: What inspired you to create Body Conceptions?

A: I was a dancer and performer for many years in NYC before I discovered dance fitness. I had never seriously considered fitness as a career before then, but the combination of dance and fitness together felt incredible to me. And it made me a stronger dancer than ever before!

Once I got more immersed in this form of exercise, my early experiences in studios watching women struggle with fitness in the times that mattered the most were incredibly impactful to me. Pregnant women in classes around me had no idea how to modify their workouts appropriately. And frankly, many of us working in studios had no idea how to really help them. I felt lots of empathy for women in this position in addition to great responsibility to help them, so I decided to get myself certified in pre and postnatal fitness. I developed my own business because I wanted the freedom to pursue my passion to help women in my own way. And I made pre/postnatal support a big part of our company mission. This has expanded to fertility support, and I am also interested in finding out as much as possible about the changes that occur for women during perimenopause so that we can support aging as well.

I am proud to say that the Body Conceptions method has proven to be a very safe but also challenging and effective method for women with a broad range of goals, not just pregnancy. I am constantly exploring the science behind fitness for women and also seeking the best way to keep our clients engaged and challenged while they train with us — which can be many, many years! We have created a method that combines cardio with full-body sculpting in a format that has constantly changing exercises and music to keep our clients on their toes. I am proud about the results we have seen, and I also love what it has done for my body. And most importantly, our work has connected us with the most wonderful community of clients and wellness practitioners with whom we collaborate. I am so grateful that I chose to follow this career path after dance.

Q: What does the dance-inspired fitness routine provide over the more traditional workouts (machines, weights, etc.)?

A: That’s a great question.  Dance can mean lots of different things for different people.  For me, it symbolizes freedom and a deep artistic connection to my body. That comes from music in a very big way for me, which is why I take so much time (and pleasure!) creating my playlists. When I’m working with clients, I’m paying so much attention to them and what their bodies need, but I’m simultaneously responding to the music in a way that connects our physical energy with the music’s energy. It’s amazing how much more intensity you can put into workouts when you feel like the music takes you there!

I definitely want to acknowledge that there’s a lot of fear around the word, “dance.” So many people back away when I say that word and tell me with their fingers wagging that they don’t have rhythm and aren’t coordinated. I tell them immediately not to be afraid! We have specifically designed the “dance” components to be simple (think jumping jacks to a beat), and we use dance principles in our approach to the movement — but we won’t be asking people to do crazy or complicated things if they don’t move that way. Dance-based workouts like ours help our clients connect better with their core, coordinate their whole body more effectively, and achieve the longer and leaner physique of a dancer. I want to add that if you ARE a dancer, we’ve got you covered as well. We have plenty of fun, complicated dances we can use for the cardio to get your brain working and your heart pumping!

Q: Motivation is a key factor in getting to the gym. How do you motivate women to join and power through a session?

A: As I mentioned earlier, music is a huge factor for me in helping my clients connect deeply with their exercise experience. I like to ask my clients to give me songs or artists they love so that I can incorporate their favorite music into the workout. I also spend several hours finding the best new music each week that works for exercise. If the music is good, people don’t even realize they’re working so hard!

In addition to music, we also place a big emphasis on identifying our clients’ goals and acknowledging that these goals can change through time. I personally get a huge amount of joy from these workouts, and I see joy in my clients as well. We don’t focus as a company on the unrealistic goal of getting a perfect “beach body.”  Instead, we want to give our clients an opportunity to improve their strength and coordination, get their mind off stress, strengthen during their pregnancy or heal from labor, and connect with their bodies in a new way – all of which helps them achieve the best physical version of themselves as a byproduct. These are motivating and joyful goals that keep people coming back each week and working with us for many years.

Q: How do you adapt your sessions towards people’s individual fitness goals and busy schedules?

A: Personalization is actually one of the most important elements of our workouts. Our workout has improvisation built into it, which allows us to change our direction easily and respond in the moment to the needs of our clients. It’s definitely structured as a specific method, but the flexibility empowers our instructors to make a wide range of choices depending on what’s needed in the moment. I think all personal training should be highly personalized, but the stakes become even higher when we we work with prenatal or postpartum women who require deep attention and sometimes a sudden change in direction during their sessions. And this isn’t just a pregnancy issue. Once, I showed up to train a client and only learned in that moment that she had fallen down her stairs. We had to avoid any jumping, protect her ribs that had been bruised, and could only move her shoulder in one direction. I managed to get her through the session gently and without pain, and she felt so much less stressed after getting her blood flowing – I was grateful that she had chosen to work out despite her accident!

Flexibility of scheduling is also a big factor in personal training. We address this by working with a range of trainers who have flexibility in their schedules when they begin working with us. We do get very busy and have more difficulty at times accommodating everyone’s schedule requests, but we try to hire trainers at a rate that accommodates our demands. We take lots of time finding the right people and training them as thoroughly as possible, so I have to admit that this can all be a tricky dance. But we do our best!!

Q: Tell us about some of the special offerings at Body Conceptions (i.e., pre & post natal training, special occasions, private training). What can women expect to takeaway from these offerings?

A: As specialists in pre and postnatal exercise, we are prepared to work with clients during and after their pregnancies. We are highly connected with practitioners and services in the area who can help our clients if anything comes up that we don’t address or that falls outside of our expertise. A pregnant client working with us can expect that we know the primary principles of prenatal exercise while having lots of experience working with a wide range of pregnancies. Every pregnancy is different, so we are highly attentive to the daily/weekly needs of each person and adjust accordingly. 

In addition to pre and postnatal fitness, we have worked hard to understand as much as we can about the fertility process. We work with fertility centers in the area to understand how they view exercise so that we can be as consistent as possible in our approach if our clients are seeking fertility treatments. (And we are always trying to learn as much as we can about current research on fertility and exercise as possible!)

In the same way we coordinate with fertility doctors, we also coordinate with PT’s who might be seeing clients of ours who have injuries (or perhaps any pelvic floor concerns connected with pregnancy/postpartum). We like to make sure our clients feel comfortable with us and know that we are aware of the direction their PT’s are going so that we can help them heal more effectively.

Outside of pregnancy, we have lots of other really fun, special offerings! Clients can get groups of friends together for special, private events like bridal parties, bachelorettes, and birthdays. We’ll help rent out spaces and create as special an experience as possible. Our venues have ranged from dance studios in the city to beaches or lawns in the Hamptons. We love working with these special groups, and we are specially excited to design a playlist full of our clients’ favorite tunes!

I am excited to say that we’ve helped our clients through a full range of transitions and events, from their weddings through pregnancies and the births of several children to awards ceremonies and college reunions. What makes all of these times special is that we help them achieve their goals while preparing for the things that mean the most to them, all while having fun! Being part of these big moments is what makes this work so meaningful to my trainers and to me. I didn’t imagine how fulfilling this career would become for me and feel so grateful to be here.

“It’s about being sweaty and happy, not perfect.” – Mahri Relin

Looking to hire a babysitter or nanny in NYC? Bell Family Company provides fully vetted on-demand babysitting, including childcare for when a child is sick, full and part time nannies, baby nurses, temporary care and more! Learn why BFC is the best NY Childcare Agency servicing the tri-state area. BFC is the best in the business! Contact us today to hire a nanny in NYC or to book the best babysitters in NYC!

Feel Empowered & Achieve Life Balance as a Mom

We recently partnered up with Carly Snyder, M.D., who specializes in comprehensive reproductive health care and makes it her mission to help moms feel empowered and achieve life balance. Read below for our Q&A to learn more about Carly and her wonderful work with women’s health.

Q: What is your approach to help mothers optimize the body and mind pre- and post-birth? Are there certain services you provide that you find most beneficial for new moms?

A: The changes that occur in life from conception through baby’s first year of life are astronomical, and the impact of these changes on a woman’s sense of self is similarly huge. I spend a lot of time talking to my patients while they are still pregnant about identity and ways to incorporate their new identity as a mom into their current self, rather than feeling as if they are losing part of themselves with the arrival of their baby. I also work with women a lot on ways to feel proud and to own their changing bodies.

We focus a lot on living in the moment with a woman’s partner during pregnancy and enjoying the time until baby comes as a couple, appreciating one another and strengthening the relationship and continuing to function as a couple once baby arrives in addition to acting as co-parents. Too often after having a baby, couples transition to being parents and intimacy goes out the window. It is imperative that a strong bond be nurtured during pregnancy and then be reinforced after baby’s birth by having date nights and baby-free conversations. Pre-planning these date nights in advance, setting up a schedule with baby sitters lined up on a regular basis, establishes that the relationship remains important even after baby has arrived.

My patients and I also work hard on communication, speaking up about how a woman feels in the moment and making her needs known. During pregnancy and especially after the birth of a baby, new moms can feel as if their needs are secondary to their babies, but it is incredibly important that women feel empowered to speak up for themselves and to talk about their feelings and their needs openly. We explore what barriers they may have to opening up with loved ones about their experiences and then how to surmount these barriers so that open communication can occur freely going forward.

Another area that I focus on with my patients is making a sleep schedule during pregnancy for once the baby arrives to ensure that mom continues to get adequate rest. Whether mom is breast or bottle feeding, it is imperative that she sleeps at least six hours a night and ideally that she has can have uninterrupted sleep of three or more hours at a time. Moms are already exhausted as a result of labor and delivery when they leave the hospital with a newborn, and our country has no established supports in place to help new moms, so we must pre-plan to ensure that mom does not have to face feeding a baby every 2-3 hours every night on her own from day one onwards. This is only possible if mom has supports in place in advance, be it her partner, a family member, a postpartum doula or a baby nurse. A plan must be set up before baby arrives because otherwise mom will take on the full responsibility, and then she will undoubtably become exhausted and this can steam roll into feelings of sadness and a sense of being overwhelmed very quickly.

I also spend a lot of time discussing what are ‘normal and expected’ levels of anxiety and tearfulness during and after pregnancy, and at what point symptoms can be considered more significant and would warrant treatment, perhaps with more intense therapy, or with medication or with an increase in dose of medication if a woman is already taking something. Pregnancy is inherently anxiety inducing, and so is having a newborn. It is expected that new parents will be scared at times and will feel overwhelmed. At the same time, it is also important that women are able to control their anxiety and not feel that their anxiety or moments of sadness are engulfing them or taking over their lives. Parenthood will forever be scary because we love our children more than anything but cannot protect them from the outside world. We need to be able to compartmentalize our fears rather than allow the fears to control us because living in such a state of terror is not good for us or for our children.

Q: Why is it so important for mothers to focus on their mental health throughout the child bearing process?

A: Mom deserves to enjoy her pregnancy and the postpartum period as much as possible and this is impossible while struggling with a Perinatal Mood and/or Anxiety Disorder (PMAD). Mom’s mental health is intimately connected to her baby’s physical and emotional health both during and after pregnancy. Research consistently demonstrates that mom’s emotional state impacts her growing fetus and that feeling consistently severely anxious and/or depressed during pregnancy can have negative implications for a baby in the short and long run. Similarly, having a postpartum mood disorder is hard not just for mom, but also for everyone in the family.

Q: Tell us about your radio show, MD for Moms. What can listeners expect to hear and learn from tuning in each week, and how can listeners tune in? 

A: MD for Moms is a show dedicated to helping women enjoy life more, to maximizing health and wellness and to improving women’s relationships with themselves and with others. For the last year and a half I have focused on what I call my “Mama Docs On Call” Series where I introduce my listeners to physicians who are also moms, like me, and they are on the show to provide information and support geared to moms and their families. We discuss topics ranging from women’s health and wellness issues to child-related concerns. It’s really a conversation between myself and a leader in a field of medicine, and listeners are invited to call in live with their questions throughout the show. For example, some recent shows included one with an OBGYN who answered every GYN question we all have but never remember or want to ask during our annual appointments, another show was with a pediatrician who is also a Lactation Consultant and we discussed breast feeding; another show was with an ER pediatrician who has taken on a special interest in keeping kids safe on-line, and we did a two part series on how to keep kids safe on social media… upcoming shows include a discussion on autoimmune diseases and fatigue, on childhood headaches, infertility, having a baby in the NICU, and so much more. The show is booked all the way through the new year and beyond – it is really exciting. Each week I post the upcoming show information on my blog as well as on social media. The shows air live on the BBM Global Network (on the internet), on TuneIn and iHeart Radio at 1pm ET every Wednesday or you can listen to it as a podcast. Just search for MD for Moms on iTunes podcasts and there are about 115 or so shows available for download.

Carly Snyder, M.D.

Written by Taylor Bell, Marketing & Social Media

Sip Your Way to Less Stress

What if I told you that you could reduce the amount of stress in your life by sipping a natural and truly healthy beverage? Have I got your attention?
Sweet Reason Beverage Company introduces a sparkling water with hemp CBD, so everyone can achieve an easier and more seamless lifestyle. Learn more about the awesome product below through our Q&A with the team.
Q: A big part of Sweet Reason’s mission is to make life easier. To slow things down, relax, and pursue a life well-lived. How does your sparkling water help implement this lifestyle?
A: CBD helps calm and focus the mind. I find it takes the edge off of my anxiety, makes me more present and allows me to concentrate on the task at hand. To me, that is a life well-lived.
Q: Tell us more about CBD: What is it? What are its benefits? And how is it used in Sweet Reason?
A: Cannabidiol (CBD) is a cannabinoid that can either be extracted from the hemp or cannabis plant. There are over 100 cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, so as the hemp plant and all of its extracts become legal (thank you, 2018 Farm Bill) you’ll see many other cannabinoids with a wide range of health benefits hit the market. CBD helps calm the mind, reduce random stress and ease discomfort. If that sounds vague to you, it is because companies that are making over-zealous health claims are getting in trouble with the FDA, so we like to encourage consumers to try CBD themselves. CBD affects everyone differently, and pure CBD is a safe to consume (see World Health Organization’s Critical Review of CBD in June 2018, which notes that CBD is, “generally well tolerated with a good safety profile”), so experiment and see how you feel. Sweet Reason is the perfect beverage for the CBD-curious, because it is delicious and at an approachable dosage (7mg). At Sweet Reason, we believe in creating beverages that are truly healthy (aka no sugar or sweeteners and simple ingredients), so that you don’t have to think twice about getting your daily dose of CBD.
Q: Your packaging of Sweet Reason alone makes me want to buy it. Where and how can people go about getting Sweet Reason in their lives?
A: Sweet Reason is in over 150 stores in New York (check out the map on our website for where to find us), including Dean & Deluca, West Side Market and Westerly. And if you want it to come right to your doorstep, order online! We even have a subscription program for the people who want to drink it all day, everyday (like me).
Q: What was the biggest inspiration for creating a product like Sweet Reason? How has it impacted your life for the better?

A: I started Sweet Reason because I couldn’t stop thinking about the future of cannabis beverages and how they will change our culture and social interactions, and challenge deeply held beliefs around cannabis. When I learned about CBD and discovered that it helped take the edge off of my anxiety, I couldn’t resist starting Sweet Reason. Sweet Reason has made my life better in so many ways (where do I begin?), but mostly because it allows me to share the health benefits of CBD with so many different people.
Sweet-Reason
Written by Taylor Bell, Marketing & Social Media

A Healthier You Has Arrived

It’s nearing the end of February, which means you’ve made it almost two months without breaking your New Year’s resolution of losing weight… right?
Let’s get real, if you’ve made it this far you deserve a round of applause, because you’ve probably lasted longer than most. But if you find yourself inching towards old habits and need an extra motivation boost, that’s exactly what this featured blog post provides. In a recent post from Allison Arden Besunder, she presents “6 Tips for Wellness in the New Year,” all of which are noteworthy and serve as great motivators.

  • Tip 1: The New York Times 30-day Wellness Challenge – Short, daily challenges you can easily incorporate and start now!
  • Tip 2: Drink water – 64 ounces a day is the goal, and try one glass in the morning and one at night with a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar in it.
  • Tip 3: Use an activity tracker – It inspires you to get your steps in if you haven’t hit the mark, and it reminds you to move every hour if you haven’t gotten up—an important key in wellness.
  • Tip 4: Log you habits – You may be surprised at how much and what you ingest, and when you’re mindful about what you’re eating, you’re liable to make healthier choices.
  • Tip 5: Eat – Eat small meals throughout the day with unlimited vegetables. And, revelation of revelations, begin your day with breakfast.
  • Tip 6: Be kind to yourself – It’s just day by day, improving small habits one by one, and over time you will feel better and see results.

wellness-300x208
For the full article and details on each tip, click here.
Repurposed from Allison Arden Besunder Law Offices

Moms + Yoga – The Perfect Combination

We all know the cold and dreary winter days will soon be upon us, and finding motivation to get out the door gets more and more challenging. Sometimes it’s a matter of finding the right activity to give you that extra push, and for me, that activity is yoga.
Meet Allegra McBane-Sanchez, a certified yoga teacher in the Greenwich, CT area who specializes in prenatal, postpartum and mommy and me yoga, as well as vinyasa and gentle practices for moms and non-moms alike. She teaches group and private sessions at various local studios, and partnered with us to share her yoga-knowledge through the Q&A below.
Q: Yoga is a great resource for moms and soon-to-be moms to stay healthy throughout their pregnancy. What are some benefits of prenatal yoga for soon-to-be moms? 
A: Pre-natal yoga can be a highly beneficial part of pregnancy. The physical benefits of practicing poses that offer a supported way to open up, to stretch, and also to strengthen can help your body more comfortably grow for your developing baby. The mental benefits of connecting deeply to your body and to your breath can help you to more peacefully navigate pregnancy, birth and new motherhood. In prenatal yoga, we focus a lot of awareness on breath work as a tool for expectant mothers to stay present in their bodies throughout their pregnancy and as an integral tool in the labor and birth experience.
Q: Why is it important to continue to practice yoga post-birth? 
A: A postpartum yoga practice can help reconnect new moms to the changes they have experienced in their bodies through pregnancy and birth. A thoughtful postpartum yoga practice can help moms regain strength in their cores, pelvic floors, and throughout their bodies; it can reconnect them to their breath and to their own innate strength; and, it is also an opportunity for a new mom to check in with her body, mind and breath as she adjusts to the demands of new motherhood.
Q: How does mommy and me yoga help bond mom and new baby? 
A: Mommy and me yoga is one of the most rewarding classes to teach. Offering a space for moms to be with their little ones while also caring for themselves is a very beautiful thing to witness. Babies enjoy the touch of their moms as they gently massage and stretch the babies, and moms enjoy incorporating their babies into movement and poses that benefit their physical and mental health. The babies respond positively to calm breath and gentle movements – it brings them a sense of calm as well. It’s also a really nice opportunity to meet other new moms and find a community while doing something good for yourself and your baby.
Q: What are some things you’ve learned from practicing yoga? 
A: This is hard to answer because, really, yoga has changed my life. It has changed the way I view my own body, my own relationship to my child and the way I interact with others. I have had a yoga practice for nearly 20 years but it was only after I gave birth to my son, that yoga became something more than a chance to stretch and strengthen. The challenges that many new mothers face: hormonal changes that impact our mental health, physical changes that impact our ability to do what we previously did, and the profound shift when we become responsible for another person’s life, can take its toll. I turned to yoga as I navigated the transition to new motherhood and not only did it provide me with more physical strength and flexibility than I have ever had before, but the focus on breath work and the practice of being present in my body in the moment that I am experiencing has taught me how to be a more engaged and conscious parent and has taught me how to view my life through a lens of gratitude and patience.
Allegra Sanchez 
Written by our Marketing & Social Media Consultant, Taylor Bell

Holiday Survival 101: How Acupuncture Can Reduce Stress

While the holiday season can be a joyous and exciting time of the year, it can also be a time of added stress and anxiety. Holiday parties and holiday shopping all require extra time and energy, as we continue to meet the demands of our daily responsibilities. Family gatherings have also been known to ramp up stress and anxiety during the holiday period for many. Though holiday stress may feel challenging to address, there are ways to minimize its impact. Getting enough sleep, regular exercise, being mindful of nutrition and not indulging to excess, can all be helpful in keeping stress at bay.
Acupuncture can also be an effective way to relieve and reduce stress and anxiety during the holidays and throughout the year.
What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a branch of Chinese medicine that is more than 2,000 years old. Acupuncture, a natural therapy that works with the body’s own energy and healing capacity, is a noninvasive way to address many conditions, including emotional issues, and has little to no side effects. It is based on a meridian system of energy in the body. The 12 primary meridians correspond to certain organs and run throughout the body. Energy or qi (pronounced “chi” as it is called in Chinese medicine) and blood move through these meridians bringing nourishment to all aspects of the body. An individual remains healthy when qi and blood are moving freely and uninhibited. Disease such as pain and stress occurs when qi and blood become stagnant or blocked. Blockage can be a result of various reasons.
Points on these meridians have specific functions such as clearing heat, strengthening the immune system, and calming the mind. Once a diagnosis is reached, hair thin needles are inserted on specific meridians at specific points to treat a particular issue. While the needles are in place the patient has an opportunity to relax as the needles are balancing the body’s energy and unblocking areas where energy and blood have become stuck.
Benefits of Acupuncture
Acupuncture is most often associated with pain management, for which it is extremely effective, but it also treats a wide range of  non-emergency conditions, including insomnia, painful periods, fatigue, and menopause symptoms.
Some benefits of acupuncture include:

  • Supports the immune system
  • Speeds up recovery after an injury
  • Decreases muscle and joint pain
  • Improves blood flow and circulation
  • Decreases stress and anxiety by regulating the nervous system
  • Increases energy
  • Improves sleep

Acupuncture may not be the first thing that comes to mind when dealing with seasonal stress. But it has proven to be helpful in managing and reducing stress during the holiday season, and throughout the year. If you find yourself experiencing increased stress and anxiety during the holidays, acupuncture could be just what the doctor ordered!
Annora Cheng
Written by our contributing partner, Annora Cheng, L.Ac., at Internal Harmony Acupuncture in NYC

Ask Dr. Jen … We Did!

We recently had the opportunity to partner with Pediatrician Jen Trachtenberg, MD, to get some of our Pediatrician questions answered and to learn more about her latest ventures, which include great tools for parents!
Take a read through our Q&A below, and then visit her website to learn more. You’ll soon find that you are on your way to a more comfortable and confident parenting experience (it exists!).
Q: Finding the right Pediatrician can be a big decision for new parents. How early would you suggest new moms and dads to find one? And what are some good questions for parents to ask the Pediatrician when trying to decide if he/she is a good  fit?
A: Finding the right pediatrician for your family is an important task because having a physician that makes you feel confident as well as comfortable asking questions to, is essential to getting the best care possible for your baby. I recommend starting early – in the last trimester of pregnancy – to begin finding a pediatrician. Ask family and friends, as well as your OB/Gyn for recommendations. You can easily search the doctor’s credentials on the internet, but I highly recommend going for a “meet and greet” or prenatal appointment in their office so you can ask questions directly and see how the office operates. You can also come a bit early and speak with other parents in the waiting room for their opinions as well. Make sure to bring a list and ask your questions to the doctor. Here are a few important ones:

  • – Are they board certified and continue with ongoing medical education?
  • – Will the pediatrician see the newborn in the hospital?
  • – What are the office hours and who do I contact in case of an evening emergency?
  • – Do you use email or phone to return messages?
  • – What are your views on vaccines and breast and formula feeding?

Listen for how the doctor responds and see if you feel you have a connection, and your questions are answered adequately. As a new parent, there are no silly questions, just ones you need the answers to. By finding a pediatrician who listens and understands your concerns and fears as new parents, you can ensure safety and better health and wellness for your new bundle of joy.
Q: You have two published books on the shelf, 1) The Smart Parent’s Guide to Getting Your Kids through Check Ups, Illnesses and Accidents and 2) Good Kids, Bad Habits: The RealAge Guide to Raising Healthy Children. What can readers expect to learn in each of these books. 
A: I have written two parenting books to help decrease parents’ fears and anxiety that often comes with raising a child. By giving easy to understand information, it helps to build healthy habits and also empowers parents to advocate for their child’s health. Good Kids Bad Habits: The Real Age Guide to Raising Healthy Children, breaks down habits into small easy steps and demonstrates how making even a few changes in nutrition, exercise, stress, and safety can have a huge positive impact on your child’s long term health and wellness. My second book, The Smart Parent’s Guide to Getting Your Kids through Checkups, Illnesses and Accidents, is all about empowering parents to speak up and how to get the information you need to make the right decisions regarding your child’s health in the ER, during a hospital stay or dealing with a routine well visit.
Q: You provide a great video series called, Pediatrician in Your Pocket, offering parents a one-stop learning experience on all things childcare. What are some essential items new parents will takeaway from these videos, and how can people access them to view? 
A: My latest venture is my new comprehensive video guide manual Pediatrician in Your Pocket for parents that gives you all the answers you need about caring for your baby from newborn through age 2 years. It’s the only science based, mom tested, no judgement video guide for new parents.  The ultimate video cheat sheet, stacked with information new parents need to feel more confident during their first parenting journey. The bite size five minute videos are comprehensive, reassuring and easy to understand, and available to you 24/7 whenever you have a question or need answers. I am a virtual doctor-on-demand, delivering medical tips backed up by the American Academy of Pediatrics. I discuss sleeping, eating, peeing, pooping, vaccines, common illness, developmental milestones, what to do for fever, baby proofing, temper tantrums and so much more. When you know the answer to your question, it’s as simple as one click and a video clip. New parents can take a deep breath and know someone has their back any time day or night.
jt headshot
 
Written by our Marketing & Social Media Consultant, Taylor Bell

Time to Exercise the Brain With Brain Gym®

It can be easy to overlook, but keeping your brain healthy and active is an important part of maintaining your best self.
We partnered up with Mari Miyoshi, Occupational Therapist and licensed Consultant/Teacher at Brain Gym, to learn more about the importance of keeping your mind active. Read through our Q&A below, and then checkout their website to learn more!
Q: A focus on what you do is through the original 26 Brain Gym movements (“The 26”). What are these activities and how do they improve or focus on mental health? 
A: Actually, the 26 movements are only a small part of the larger Brain Gym/Educational Kinesiology program. The movements draw from many other fields, such as developmental optometry, Feldenkreis, Alexander technique, sensory integration, athletics, and more to create simple movements that reorganize the way the brain works. As powerful as the movements are, they are only like the tip of the iceberg.
Each of the 26 movements can be used a la carte to address a myriad of challenges from difficulty writing, reading, focusing, and learning. But the larger field of Brain Gym or Educational Kinesiology consists of brain balancing processes during which the client sets a particular goal around a challenging task and the practitioner looks at the way the client moves, works, holds tension in the body, or has habitual movement and thought patterns and then uses brain gym and reflex integration in order to re-organize the brain. You will often see kids make incredible changes in one or two sessions that they may take six months of a regular therapy program to achieve.
Q: What can new comers expect to learn in your courses? And how do they sign up to join Brain Gym? 

A: One of the most important parts of brain gym is a process called noticing. It is in alignment with the principles of mindfulness that often is part of yoga and meditation. Basically when a person tunes into the present moment, they are activating the part of the brain that is responsible for decision making and executive functioning. Executive functioning is a part of the brain that thinks and makes new choices and allows an individual to exercise these skills which are uniquely human. New comers can expect to learn how to notice in more specific ways than one usually does in daily life. There will be movements that are taught as a way to see how the brain is communicating inside itself and in doing so, you can learn to see what is going on in your own brain when you are experiencing stress. The participants will also learn the 26 movements and with these new noticing skills start to learn how to apply the movements to help their own brain communicate better inside itself. I think most people want to understand why they think, move, and do the things they do, especially if they are not productive, and want to have something that is effective and easy to change it. The thing that is lovely about brain gym is that it is not a cookie cutter and prescriptive way of working with a person’s brain and behavior. By learning to move and notice in this specific way, the person can learn exactly what their own unique brain and body need and start to do that to change their own lives.
People who are interested can sign up through the eventbrite link on the events page of the website or by emailing me to ask for a hard copy of a registration form.
Q: Tell us about the different types of sessions/classes you offer. Are these classes for people of all ages? 

A: The sessions are for all ages. Due to the level of focus and attention that is available, younger children who need to be accompanied by an adult usually takes a one hour session. These sessions will consist of both working hands on with the child and also educating and modeling the movements for the parents (or caregiver) so that it can be carried over into their daily life. The teen/young adult sessions are an hour and a half, and also include hands on work as well as education around their goal and specific movements that help unlock their brain. The goal is to make a movement menu that is specifically helpful to each individual that they grow over time.
All sessions can consist of many things, and can look different each time. There can be talking and education around brain development and where the challenge that they are working on is causing a “breakdown” in the brain. There can also be coaching, hands on work that help facilitate brain development. I also have training in other modalities such as reiki and craniosacral therapy, and I bring those aspects into the session if the client’s body tests that it needs that kind of work. In all cases the sessions are lead by the client’s brain and body and exactly what is needed in the moment.
At this time, classes are usually for professionals who work with clients of all ages as well as parents and educators who want to help their kids. Adults who are also looking to reduce stress in their own brain and body and want to use brain gym to learn a new skill (such as learning a new language, dance, martial art, meeting deadlines, stress management, etc.) are also encouraged to attend. No experience with brain gym is necessary and I offer many formats for exposure to brain gym. There can be a two hour mini intro, one day intro as well as the official three day workshop.
Q: What motivated or inspired you to start Brain Gym? 
A: I learned about brain gym from one of my therapy supervisors who suggested I start using it with my caseload of kids to help them relax and get the most out of the sessions. I started using it as a warm up for all my sessions and noticed that the kids were calmer and more focused. Also, because I did the movements with my kids, I noticed that I was more calm and organized. Then I started to use these movements with my caseload of kids I had in the public schools. I did not know any theory but I could see a change and it felt good. After about a year, I tested one of my kids’ visual skills and he had jumped in ability from below average to the high end of average! That was a 40 point increase in a standardized test for visual skills. When I checked my therapy notes from the previous year to this current year, the only difference in the activities was the five minutes of brain gym I was doing at the start of this particular student’s session ONCE A WEEK! After I saw the change in this particular 4th grader, I decided to go take a class and asked my teacher about this result and she told me these kinds of things happened all the time. On a side note (but very much related) during this whole time I was doing brain gym myself with the kids, not for myself but so that the kids feel supported when they were doing the movements, so I was doing brain gym 6-7 times a day with each new child I had for a session. I started to leave work 1-1.5 hours earlier than usual and my paperwork and time management skills improved. I didn’t initially put it together but I realized after I saw this child improve that it may be the movements that I was doing everyday!
So I took the class and learned more and started doing it a lot and have seen amazing changes both in myself and in clients of all ages. I started learning this process in 2002 and became an instructor in 2004. I have been teaching classes and working with students and using brain gym in some form, either for myself or someone else (often both) everyday!
It is like the gift that keeps giving and getting more interesting with each passing day and each new unique brain and body sessions that I get to be a part of.
Mari Miyoshi
Written by our Marketing & Social Media Consultant, Taylor Bell

Live Your Healthiest Lifestyle Through Chitta Wellness

We recently had the opportunity to partner with Roma van der Walt, Owner of Chitta Wellness, a personal and group training program that provides transformative tools to achieve your ideal body. Read our Q&A below to learn about her impressive journey, and how you can be on your way to living your healthiest lifestyle.

Q: What has your experience been in fitness and wellness, and what inspired you to start Chitta Wellness? 

A: My own experience in fitness has been as an athlete from a very young age. I started with horseback riding and track and field before I went to elementary school, by the end of fourth grade, I was competing and by 6th grade I took up the Modern Pentathlon. Modern Pentathlon is a beautiful sport because it combines some very technical sports like fencing, shooting and show jumping (horses) with very linear sports like swimming and running. I think being a multi-sport athlete is what I still use in my work with Chitta Wellness to make sure people don’t get bored in their training. You would be surprised how many non runners I was able to start running a bit and now they love it and send me photos from their holiday running trails. Just as one example.
I started Chitta Wellness because after almost a decade of sitting at a desk, I realized that it wasn’t for me and it was actually making me sicker. I developed anxiety and back issues. Now that I make my own schedule and work with people, I’m much happier and much more efficient when I do work on the computer.
I want to help people be happy and healthy and make wellness and fitness an integral part of their life, especially parents because children learn from experience from a very young age.

Q: Talk about the “three Ps” Chitta Wellness focuses on. What do each of these mean and what can someone expect to learn in each of these focus areas?

A: The three p’s are pre-conception, prenatal and postpartum fitness. Each of these phases is a special one in a woman’s and in a couple’s life. When a couple decides to conceive, there’s often a moment of “OH!”, our life is about to change. Parents strive to be healthier whether it’s the woman carrying the child or her partner. During pregnancy, the general advice from the medical field is limited to not doing too much but women aren’t sick, they are “just” pregnant and working out has proven to be very beneficial to both the mother and the baby. I think my son really liked it when I ran with him in utero. Postpartum is usually when parents run into a whole new set of problems. Personal time and fitness are a rare commodity and have to be juggled with childcare, so offering them workouts 1:1 and in groups that are at convenient times or where they can bring their children has always been something that I offer. Babies and children are welcome in my workouts and you would be surprised how well it works out (pun intended).

Q: Some people thrive with 1:1 training and others in group training. Does Chitta offer both? What kind of atmosphere is best for beginners?

A: Chitta Wellness offers both. Beginners are usually most comfortable 1:1 I have found, especially if they are pregnant or postpartum and then eventually they merge in to a group setting or they choose to work out with their partners. I love working with couples. It’s almost like therapy, just more fun. In my groups, I don’t discourage talking. I try to bop in and out of the workout and partner exercises without interrupting the flow of conversation too much. It’s cathartic, people want to exchange themselves and I have learned a LOT about child rearing, body issues during and post pregnancy and there’s alway a point in every workout where someone either cries or laughs and then gets uplifted by their peers. There’s nothing more beautiful for me than to see people come together that way!

Q: What are some key takeaways you hope to leave your customers with after a class or session?

A: Inclusivity, fun and wanting to come back. I don’t tolerate unfriendly behavior of participants towards each other. We are all busy and stressed and rather than taking that out on someone else (or me) I expect people to discuss it and maybe we can all help find a solution. I also hope to see all genders, ages, colors and denominations in my workouts because again, it teaches me and everyone else a ton to hear diverse viewpoints and it gives so much food for thought. Inclusivity in an age of social media and often upsetting global news day-to-day, that discourse is something we don’t get in too many areas of our lives. Or we simply don’t meet people outside of our immediate circle. In a workout we’re all exposed and have to face some insecurities so it’s very real. Ultimately what I have noticed and people in my workouts, is that most of us really strive for the same values in life for ourselves and our families. So for me, that’s incredibly reassuring to see.

To learn more about Chitta Wellness, visit their website!

Chitta-Wellness

Written by our Marketing & Social Media Consultant, Taylor Bell

Parents of Newborns Are Exhausted – How Everyone Can Get More Sleep

Moms and dads alike suffer from a lack of sleep with newborns.

A mere 5 percent of parents with babies under six months old get the recommended eight hours of sleep each night. In fact, many aren’t even getting a few hours of uninterrupted sleep at night with 43 percent of new parents only getting an average of one to three hours of uninterrupted sleep.

Nighttime feedings, colic, diaper changes, and other needs can keep parents up at night. Even when the baby is sleeping, parents may lose sleep to other factors, including housework and worrying about providing a good life for their child.

Even for stay at home parents, the age-old advice of sleeping when the baby sleeps doesn’t actually happen: 41 percent say they can’t sleep during their baby’s naptimes.

New parents are so desperate for sleep that half of them would pay $100 or more for eight hours of uninterrupted sleep. One in ten says they’d pay $1,000.

Healthy Sleep for the Whole Family

Sleep deprivation is a fact of life when you have a new baby. Sometimes, the only way out is through. Most babies start sleeping through the night by six months, so there is an end in sight. But there are ways to get better rest and improve the quality of your sleep in the early months with your child.

  • Practice healthy baby sleep habits. When your baby sleeps well at night, so can you. Start healthy sleep habits early, maintaining a consistent bedtime and naptime routine. Follow predictable patterns throughout the day, such as wake, eat, play, and sleep, so your baby learns that after playtime comes time to rest. Make bedtime more restful than naptimes, allowing household noise and light to persist during the day to reinforce daytime cues. At night, reinforce nighttime cues by keeping your baby’s nursery cool, dark, and quiet.

  • Say yes to help. Accept offers from friends and family members who want to help. Don’t be too proud to let someone bring dinner, or do your dishes or laundry, or just hold the baby while you take a quick nap or practice self-care.

  • Go to bed early. Don’t feel silly about going to bed when your baby does. Even if it’s 8 or 9 p.m., you may need those hours to fit enough sleep into your night.

  • Take shifts or alternate nights. When both parents can’t sleep through the night, everyone suffers. Uninterrupted sleep is best, so you’re able to get into deep, restorative sleep rather than shallow, choppy sleep that isn’t as restful. Try taking shifts, such as 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., then 2 a.m. to 6 a.m., with one partner on call to get up and tend to the baby’s needs for the entire shift while the other can sleep uninterrupted. Or, take the one night on, one night off approach so you can get a full night of uninterrupted sleep every other night. These approaches work best when the sleeping partner is isolated and able to rest without being disturbed.

Focus on your health. When you have a new baby, self-care can fall by the wayside. But it’s important to keep up with healthy habits including diet and exercise when you’re sleep deprived so you don’t fall into unhealthy patterns. Splurge on a new mattress and enjoy those few hours of sleep all the more. Make time to get exercise, such as walking with your baby in a stroller or carrier, and pay attention to what you’re eating. Casseroles dropped off by friends and family might be delicious, but take a break and have a salad or smoothie now and then so you’re not suffering from sleep deprivation along with poor dietary choices.
Sleep-help
Article written by the team at The Sleep Help Institute.