BFC sitters and nannies have a lot to offer the world in addition to their top notch childcare skills. Alita was a BFC sitter for several years during her time living in New York City and a couple of years ago she made a big move across the pond to London, England to pursue her dreams. One of those dreams; continuing her education and studying at the Academy of Healing Nutrition in London to become a Holistic Health Guide.
After her move, Alita and her sister, Jennifer, soon launched Hermanas Wellnesswhich focuses on bringing natural medicinal products and healing practices to communities. Their mission is to inspire people to use preventative practices to stay healthy and balanced; emotionally, physically and spiritually, and make the idea of healing through natural practices not such a foreign concept.
We are so proud and excited to share the hard work these two women are putting in to make their dreams come true. Read below for some incredible reviews of their products and visit their website to snag a box of tea for yourself! Their packaging is adorable and they have tea boxes for both adults and kids. Do we need to say more?
“The tea was awesome! I got their Young Wellness box for kids and it came with a cool green calming gem. Can’t wait for the next tea party!”
Ava, age 8
“My box came with Organic Chamomile and Rose Hips tea and a cute bag of lavender. The tea was yummy and the lavender smelled so good!”
Amelia, age 8
“The stress less tea helps me unwind after a long day. Sipping it has become a favorite night time routine of mine.”
Courtney, mom of 3
“My goal of having recurring high tea parties is closer than ever! My sister, nieces and I brewed Hermanas Wellness tea, ate cucumber sandwiches and macaroons, and listened to jazz music. Cheerio!”
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.
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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.
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.
Make 2018 the year of taking control of your physical and mental health. Whether you’re looking to eat healthier, increase your energy level, or shine a little more light at the end of this motherhood tunnel, Thrive Hive Wellness is here to help.
See what all the buzz is about through our Q&A with Jennifer Khalaf, Founder of Thrive Hive Wellness.
Q: It sounds like an important lesson you learned in your journey was making time to focus on yourself as a woman, and not just your role as a mom. Why is it so important for moms to take time to focus on themselves, too?
A: Mothers are incredible and have the ability to give and care for others on a level that always amazes me, but no matter how happy we are to do it, I don’t believe you can pour from an empty cup.
Before we have children we have many components that make up our sense of identity – our passions, our careers and our relationships, to name a few. After we have children, there is often a shift in “who we are” and how we define ourselves. Many of us feel that we lose the woman we once were and have a hard time making this new woman a priority – either because we don’t have enough time and/or resources or because we feel guilty being away from our family.
I believe we all deserve to be happy and take care of ourselves – both in terms of nutrition and in terms of self-care. Self-care is not a luxury, it’s essential to your health and happiness and it looks different for everyone – it doesn’t mean you have to get a weekly facial! For me, it can be anything from a workout I enjoy to getting tea with a friend.
It’s important to remember that while “mama” may be our most cherished name, it’s not our only one. We are wives, sisters, friends, coworkers, neighbors etc. and we deserve to fulfill our passions and interests. When we don’t nourish our bodies and minds, it often takes away from other areas in our lives. A fulfilled mama, is a happy and present mama and at the end of the day, that’s good for the entire family.
Q: What are some of the plans/services you offer moms looking to join, and how can they join?
I work with moms in a variety of ways – I customize programs based off each client’s goals. For some women that may be focusing on nutrition to fit their bio-individual needs and lifestyle and for others it may be helping them work through areas of their lives that they’re feeling stuck or unfulfilled. We work together twice a month over a 3 or 6-month period (either in person or via video conference) and take steps each week towards making the changes to get them to where they want to be. Sustainable change takes time and let’s be honest when something goes wrong in the family, it’s mama to the rescue! These programs allow for the inevitable (a sick child, a school break, etc.) to happen and not sideline the progress they worked hard to achieve.
In addition to one-on-one coaching, I also offer family nutrition consultations, cooking demonstrations and pantry makeovers where we go through the family’s cupboard and swap out not-so-healthy staples with healthier alternatives that are equally delicious, but more nutrient dense.
To work with me or for a complimentary consultation, you can reach me through my website, or by email at [email protected].
Q: What are a couple key takeaways moms will get when joining Thrive Hive Wellness?
I recognize that every woman is different and it’s why each of my clients receives support tailored to their unique strengths and challenges. As such, their takeaways depend on their goals, but every client gains a better understanding of what foods support their bodies and gives them energy and balance. Additionally, they are equipped with tips and tools to help them make more space for themselves and feel more joyful and present in every aspect of their lives.
Motherhood is crazy and amazing all at the same time and sometimes we need a little reminder that our health and happiness is important too. If we know how to keep filling up our cups, we’ll have plenty to pour into our families!
Written by our Marketing & Social Media Consultant, Taylor Bell