It's Nicole. I got the idea for this blog post today. I've developed the healthiest habits I've ever had in the last 6 months, ironically while I deal with a chronic health issue. I have always eaten fairly healthy and worked out, but it wasn't always as consistent as it should be and I wasn't finding what I really loved. As well as I ate, I now realize it was not the healthiest I could be. I have come to realize that I never really learned how to truly be healthy inside and out when I was young. We had health and gym classes and things like that, but I wasn't taught about what the food I put in my body really does and what things I should do to keep my body and mind well inside and out. Now, I know. I have learned a tremendous amount about food and I feel so much more aware of what we put in our bodies and what it all does, good and bad. I developed a new workout routine based on strength. It took me 34 years to find my healthiest habits. Some of the suggestions below, I've done my whole life, but some, I have not. Help your children find them early and let them carry them through to a healthy and happy life.
Kids have a ton of energy inside of them. They need to get it out. That's especially true now that they spend more time in the classroom and less time outside at recess or gym class. They need movement. Some need more gentle movement, others need intense movement. In addition to movement, teach them other healthy habits involving eating, mind/body connection, and hydration.
Here are some ideas from my time as a nanny, coach, and a teacher of things you can do with your kids. And, in the process, you will get some active time and develop healthier habits yourself!
1. Start your kids young drinking a lot of water.
Kids (and us adults) should mainly be drinking water and a lot of it. We all know this, but we don't all practice it. Change that for your kids. Get them in the habit early. I have always drank water and never liked juice, soda, and milk. But, that's not typical of most people. If they don't like drinking it, add a splash of organic 100% juice with no sugar added to give it flavor. Give them water first thing in the morning. We all are dehydrated when we first wake up from being asleep and not having any drinks for so long. Get them their own special water bottle and carry that around with you filled with water. If they want some other drink like milk, tell them they need to drink one full cup of water first. You all know this, but try to avoid juice, soda and sugary drinks (even gatorades and such). I was always aware of how bad sugar could be, but through what I've learned recently, it's so much worse and I have the major digestive disorder to prove what it can do (and I didn't consume a ton of sugar).
2. Introduce Yoga:
Find a good kids yoga video and see if they take to it or maybe find a kids yoga class. Today, I went to visit a friend and her grandchildren. The youngest, who is 2 1/2, has taken to yoga. Her nana told me about it and how cute it is to watch her. So, a little bit after I arrived, I asked her if she liked yoga and asked if she wanted to show me. She held my hand to pull me along with her to get her mat. Her nana put on the video she uses (Kids Fit Yoga on Demand-Comcast) we set up next to each other. We did some of the video and then did our own poses. The video gives names to the poses that kids will relate to. "Auntie Cole, I'm an airplane!" Can you stand it?? Anyway, at 2.5 years old, she is focused and loves going through the poses. I used to also do this with a 5 year old I nannied. I found a different video on demand that had yoga for kids. We would do it in the afternoons to calm down and she loved it. Yoga is a great way for them to learn to soothe and calm themselves.
3. Find their interests:
Will all kids love yoga? NO. I have to admit, I don't love yoga. I used to. But, I find I get more fulfillment and mental clarity through strength training with weights and some sprints. Everyone is different. Maybe your child likes to dance around. I mean, really, I've rarely met a child who doesn't like to dance. Back when I first became a nanny (outside of the all the nannying I did in my own family), I watched two girls, one who was just turning 2 and the other wasn't born yet. We started our day every single day with dance parties. I would encourage them to dress up in their tutus or they could stay in their pjs or regular clothes. I would put on different CDs (some were just classic kid songs, some were kid friendly pop songs) and we would spend a good half hour or more dancing around the playroom. It was a great start to our day.
With the other girl I nannied that I mentioned above, I would do dance parties with her and her brother at the end of the day during the winter. One of our favorite songs to sing and dance to was "Say Hey" by Michael Franti. We'd also use serving spoons or brushes as microphones. Get imaginative. I would come up with the craziest dance moves and it just made them more excited. It was a good way to get out the energy they had from being stuck inside all day because of the cold and snow. During the warm weather, we would be out all day. We'd go to the park and climb and have "races" or go bike riding/scooting.
For dance parties, use both slow and fast songs. Some good songs and albums:
For the Kids: this is awesome because it has regular singers singing kid songs. Great for adults and kids!
Michael Franti: Want your kids to listen to positive music that's also upbeat? This guy is awesome.
A World of Happiness
Just Dance Kids albums. These are all great. There are a bunch of them and they have pop and rock songs that are made kid friendly and sung by kids.
The key is: Find what THEY love to do. Introduce them to many activities. Some other suggestions: tennis, soccer, playing catch, just chasing each other around. It can be anything as long as they're moving. Kids have lost a lot of their outdoor time due to longer school days and increased schoolwork. You need to find it somewhere for them.
4. Cook with them.
Come up with a plan to do this even just once a week. Choose something healthy and teach them about it. Or, something like a treat (cupcakes) but try to substitute some ingredients for healthier ingredients. Tell them what the ingredients will do for them. I used to make smoothies for the kids in the morning when I made my own. I would allow them to help me put the ingredients in the blender. I would use milk (the kind of milk will depend on what your child can/will drink. I used almond milk a lot and sometimes regular milk for them), frozen mixed berries, spinach (yes, spinach and they were fine with it once I explained how strong and energized it would make them and they realized it had no taste when mixed with the other ingredients), and a banana. Their involvement in the process helped make them want to try it more. Another great smoothie is milk, banana, some peanut or other nut butter and even add in a bit of dark chocolate so you can tell them it's a treat. There are tons of healthy and easy recipes to make with kids. Find a good blog or cookbook for this.
Make eating meals fun but also nutritious. Give them a couple (not too many) options so they feel involved. Meals and snacks should be healthy and colorful. Kids love color. You can not only use it as a way to teach healthy eating, but to work on colors as well! Maybe you make a rule that the kids need to have one green food at each meal. The earlier you start these habits, the better. Kids are picky, but did you know that if you put the same food in front of them multiple times, they'll eventually try it? Also, give incentive. When introducing a new veggie, I used to tell the kids that the veggie had to be tried and eaten before they got the other food (their rice or pasta or meat, whatever else there was that they wanted). I was consistent and clear that this was the only way to get the rest of the meal and there was never a problem with it. Sometimes, they wanted a little salad dressing or butter on the veggie or even a little ketchup. Whatever works!
6. Read every day.
Make it a routine. Before bed is a great time to do this to wind down. You can read or if they are reading, let them read. Also, encourage them to read on their own and not need you every time. I used to do this with the kids either for the older one when the younger was sleeping and I was cleaning up from lunch or something. It was quiet reading time for 20 minutes. Or, if I was cooking dinner, it was time for them both to sit and read together.
7. Practice positivity.
This is good for you and them! Look in the mirror and describe positive things about yourself and have the child do the same. You can then start a conversation of what else is positive about them. Point out things they do very well and have them repeat you. Teach them to give compliments to others. If they have siblings, have them point out positive things about them or about you.
8. Minimize screen time.
As someone who nannied for a long time and has many children in my family that I took care of from full time care of 3 toddlers for years to helping with my sister from birth until she went to elementary school, I know that you cannot realistically avoid screen time all together, especially in the day of iPads and iPhones. I mean, how would you ever get anything done or get 5 minutes to yourself? As long as they are watching something educational or playing a game that is beneficial, screen time isn't awful. However, a lot of screen time is. It overstimulates them and creates many other problems and bad habits. Teach them to do other things to occupy their time. I find kids now have no clue how to just play by themselves. Playing by themselves without adult guidance is crucial. It helps them develop some independence, creativity and imagination. You can direct them such as "now it's time for you to play by yourself. Here are some ideas. You can build with blocks, play with your kitchen and use your dolls, color, (and so on)". Make it routine. Kids love routine. I used to have the kids play together or do individual activities for 20 minutes in the morning while I prepared everything we'd need to go out for the day. Then, when we got back and I was preparing lunch, another 20 minutes and again, at dinner. One they start doing it, they will actually do it more and it's making it so you do not need to put the iPad in front of them but also do not have to be constantly entertaining them.
Send us pics or post them on social media and tag us of you and your kids doing healthy activities. Let's inspire others! Use #sheisme and #sheishealthy and make sure to tag us so we see them! IG: @shecampaign Twitter: @she_campaign Facebook: she.
Imagine if everyone felt good about themselves? What if we didn't let others get to us and if we didn't let stress get to us? How happy and peaceful would we all be? Here are 11 easy ways to change your thinking and feel good about YOU.
1. Make an intention: Wake up in the morning and take a moment to make an intention for a great day ahead.
2. Compliment yourself: When you look in the mirror, point out at least one thing you like about yourself. Take a moment to focus on that one thing and tell yourself why you like it.
3. Trust your instincts: When you are faced with a decision, take the time to dig deep and trust that you know the answer.
4. Don’t let life stop you: We all face hard times. Every single thing that happens is part of this thing called life. Don’t let it stop you. Keep going. Take the emotion aroused by those hard times and channel them into positive projects, thoughts, and actions.
5. Pay attention to your thoughts: When you notice yourself putting yourself down or thinking negatively, don’t be hard on yourself. Just notice it, accept that it is okay, but make the choice to turn it around. If you think a negative thought about yourself, stop and think a positive one instead.
6. Love Life: Sure, some days aren’t great. But, for the most part, life is pretty good. You have family, you have friends, you have love. Make the decision to love your life as it is, with no expectations of what it should be. Enjoy it.
7. Live in the present: Worrying about the future is useless. We have no idea what will happen tomorrow, next week, next month that could change our lives. So, why do we worry about it? Instead, enjoy the moments right NOW. Don’t miss out on living today by trying to live too much in the future.
8. Create a vision board: Vision boards are great. You can create it by hand, do it on our computer, or even use Pinterest. If there are things you want from life, from your career, from your relationships, for YOU, put them where you will see them every day. Set those goals and envision having them. Then, find the ways, small steps to get there. Create your life exactly as you want it.
9. Don’t let others offend you: We all know that when a person has a bad day, they can take it out on others. We also know that sometimes, people are just not good people. So, why do we let them get to us? Remember that another person’s anger, sadness, etc isn’t about us, it’s about them.
10. Face your fears: Make a note of the things you’re afraid of. Look at that list, figure out ways to overcome those fears. Maybe you’re afraid of switching careers. Maybe you have a fear of flying. Everyone has fears, but they should not take over and control your life.
11. LOVE YOURSELF: You do not have to be anything or anyone others expect you to be. You can be who and what you want. Finding love for yourself not only helps you but it helps your relationships with everyone else in your life.
Practice these 11 things and we guarantee you will feel better about yourself. We know from experience. :)
Nicole & Kiera
This most personal blog post I’ve ever written.
I have written this in my head a million times. I have tried to write it on paper even more. Every word I have written has been deleted at least once and sometimes the words I feel just won’t come out. I have felt paralyzed by fear. I have been afraid to hurt other people’s feelings by revealing who I am and what has made me, me. It wasn’t until last week, when I was at the Inspire Photo Retreat in Portland, Maine, that I learned an incredibly freeing lesson from Anne Almasy:
"The things we fear will disconnect us are actually the things that connect us."
In a relentless journey to embrace my authentic self and to help foster a better world to live in, I am putting my truth out there. So here goes:
I was born into a loving family, to a mother who desperately prayed for me and wanted me in her life more than words will ever be able to describe. Unfortunately, she was in an abusive marriage with a man who didn’t value her. My mom also didn’t value herself. She jumped head first into a relationship she thought would fulfill her dreams. She married a marine who she thought would provide her with a beautiful family and allow her the chance to see the world. She was 20 when I was born.
Alcohol, physical and emotional abuse took that dream away. When I was 3 years old, we were stationed at a military base in Japan. My biological father was having an affair with a married woman. He wanted a divorce. It was time for us to leave. It was just a few days before Christmas. My mom was 23 with two toddlers, no job, a high school education, and no place to go. We landed in the US and my mom found an apartment for us to start over in. As tough as it may seem, this was the best Christmas of my life.
In my memory, we had nothing. Our new home was a large, dark, and nearly empty house with a scary monster tree casting evil shadows into my room. It had no chimney for Santa to come down. But inside this house was also a small light, a glimmer of hope still burning in my mom’s heart. A hope for a better life for us. My mom taught me the most valuable lesson of my life that Christmas.
Just because things don’t go according to your plan, it doesn’t mean tomorrow won’t be different. Live your life with a positive attitude and focus on the good that you do have in your life. We had our health, we had each other, we had a package of hotdogs and the "Little Mermaid." We were going to be ok, and we were.
However, some days I struggle to find the positive message that the universe is trying to show me. I feel paralyzed by what I assume other’s think of me.
Here’s what I think other’s think of me:
Here’s what they don’t know:
I don’t always smile. My smile is my greatest asset, but it is also at the same time my biggest weakness. I hide behind it and use it as my security blanket to protect myself. I smile when I am hurt. I smile when I am sad. I smile when I am overwhelmed, insecure and afraid. I smile when I am happy, when others smile, and when I can’t think of anything else to do.
I am truly happy. What I have is enough for me, and you’re right, I couldn’t do this without my husband. However, life hasn’t been and isn’t always easy for me. It has taken years of hard work, struggle, risk, loss, pain, doubt, and working through fear to get here. Life has never been and will never be handed to me on a silver spoon—and I don’t want it to be.
To quote Ralph Waldo Emerson, “life is about the journey, not the destination.” After nearly falling off the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland, and being hit by a cab in Boston last year, I have learned from my near death experiences to cherish every moment of my life. I have witnessed friends be diagnosed with horrible illnesses at young ages, and have even seen friends die far too soon. My goal is to live everyday to be a better person and to help others embrace the beauty of all that life has to offer, no matter how long that life is.
I do have a shit ton of friends. I love people. I love meeting people, connecting with people, and helping people. However, with “a million friends” it’s hard to maintain meaningful relationships. I am working hard at finding a balance where I can foster more genuine relationships with “my people,” you know those people who are there for you no matter what and those to whom you would be there for no matter what.
Dunbar’s Theory states that humans reach a cognitive limit on the number of people with whom they can successfully maintain a stable and meaningful relationship. That number is 150. I think my life will feel fuller when I focus on finding and embracing my 150. It’s on my to-do list (thanks Anne!)
My inner light from my soul is infectious. It’s true. I see it in the way that people look at me. I hear it from those that I surround myself with. I feel it when I connect with people. Helping those around me fuels my inner light. Right now, my biggest challenge is accepting the light I receive from others when I give to them and see them get happy. Sometimes, I feel guilty for the feelings I receive back, like it’s something I am selfishly doing so that I can feel better about myself. I need to work on accepting and realizing that this is the “give and the take” that makes the world go round.
I have a bigger purpose out there right now and I am so looking forward to my journey of overcoming my fears of putting myself out there and being more real. Through she., I have read countless stories from individual ladies sharing their reality, their truth. It gives me inspiration, hope and strength to continue to feverishly work to make the world a better place.
So there it is. I have so much more to share, and maybe one day will!
A big part of she. is sharing stories of girls and women. These stories can be anything from simply what makes them who they are to something they have overcome or something they are proud of. We are starting to add people's stories to our site. You will be able to visit our "meet she." page and click on an image to read more about the awesome people we have been capturing. Our first one is Meghan.
When my friend Jen and I were talking about "she." one day, Jen mentioned a friend of hers and how maybe I should talk to her about having her picture taken and sharing her story. She told me Meghan was going through treatment for breast cancer and had a very positive outlook in how she was dealing with it. I, of course, said, "Yes. Please reach out to her and have her contact me if she is interested." She did and Meghan was very willing to be part of "she." We exchanged a few Facebook messages in which I could already tell I was going to love her and already felt completely inspired by her. When talking about the photo shoot, I told her to wear anything that made her comfortable and that it should look like "her", something she'd wear any other day. She then told me she wanted to do both in her wig and without, which of course, I loved. Last Sunday, we met up to snap some photos. We chatted for a bit first and then had some fun capturing this amazingly beautiful woman. You can see in the images how her positive attitude and personality shine through her eyes despite what she is going through.
Please visit "meet meghan" to read her beautiful story of positivity through an extremely difficult time. It is truly inspiring.
Let me start this post by saying that though this may focus on plus size women and how society sees them, women who are super skinny and are naturally that way AND healthy are no less beautiful. I know sometimes, we focus on the outrage over what is considered "fat" and those who are naturally very thin don't want to be labeled any more than large women do. I say as long as you are truly healthy inside and out, size never matters.
Okay, so see that beautiful woman up there? The one with the curves and small arms and beautiful strong legs? The one with a little bit of a "roll" in the second picture that looks like any other regular woman out there? In case you haven't seen this all over the internet, she is the first "PLUS-SIZE" model in Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition. PLUS SIZE. She's a size 12. Let me tell you, I am a size 8 (granted, not blessed with height and long legs) and I can NOT rock a bathing suit like her. She is gorgeous. And yet, she is considered "plus size". Why couldn't she just be in the magazine as just another model? Why did she have to classified? And WHY in the world is she considered plus size?? This is a perfect example of what is wrong with our society and societies around the world. Let's look at a few other examples.
That is an ad featured in the Swimsuit Edition. She is a size 16 model. Okay, so maybe we can categorize 16 as plus size. BUT, does it have to be the focus of this ad? Why isn't she just a beautiful woman who is modeling? I certainly wouldn't feel the confidence to throw a bikini on and rock it in a published magazine. Why does she have to be labeled?
This next model was in Elle last year. She is a size 10 and YES, considered "plus-size".
And in an article I found (HERE), they actually say this...
"In fact, not so long ago plus size models were around size 10-12, but that number has recently shrunk to an 8," said Cosmopolitan earlier this year, while PLUS Model concurs that models "between size 6 and size 14" are typically considered plus size."
SIZE SIX. COME.ON. And let's not get me started on why there's a "Plus Model" magazine and why all beautiful women can't be featured in just "regular" magazines. Here is some information cited from Plus Model. "Twenty years ago, the average fashion model weighed 8 percent less than the average woman. Today, she weighs 23 percent less, it said." Yes, that's what it says. It also says that most models meet the criteria of anorexia. So, our standard is for women to be so thin that they are compromising their health? Hmm… Seems legit.
Last April, I saw an image on Facebook posted by an Italian Magazine, much like the pictures of the "plus size" models are going around now for SI. This is the model.
She is 5'9" and a size 16. Anyone think she looks bad?? I made the BIG mistake of looking at comments people wrote and I literally felt sick to my stomach. It made me sad and angry that people could look at this woman and talk about all of her "fat" and "flaws".
I found a study done with 548 5th-12th grade girls at a school. "Of the girls, 69% reported that magazine pictures influence their idea of the perfect body shape, and 47% reported wanting to lose weight because of magazine pictures." 47% is way too many young girls, going through many changes in their bodies, to be so affected by a magazine. If anyone wants to lose weight, it should be a decision made based on health, but never to be like someone else. These girls should not be comparing themselves to an unrealistic body shape found in a magazine. If magazines had a wide variety of women of all sizes, would that make things different?
Why is this happening? Why do we as a society treat women like this? The most important question is "What are we going to do to change it?". Well, that's part of what we're here to do. We want to help change the way women look at themselves. We want to change the way society looks at women. We want to change the way men see women and help them learn to embrace and empower the women around them. We want to educate young girls BEFORE they start to believe they aren't good enough or pretty enough or skinny enough. We want to catch girls and teens at those awkward ages when they've already been sucked into the standards society is placing on them and change their thinking. We want to teach all females about being the healthiest they can be. We want to teach them to have purpose, dreams, and faith in themselves. We want all of this and more and we're on a mission to make it all happen.
We want to feature all women, all sizes, shapes, ethnicities. We want to show the world what the "regular" (I say, we're all extraordinary) woman is, what the real "standard" should be.
Do you want to be part of it? Go to our participation page to sign up and help us show young girls and women that every woman is beautiful, powerful, and empowered. Sign up your daughters too and give them a positive project to be a part of. Let them show off their uniqueness, style, and amazing personalities. Even if you don't feel that all of the time, you will be surprised how much participating will pull those feelings out in you. And let's be honest, we take great pictures, so you can't go wrong. :)
Do you want to be be a speaker or sponsor or to host an event? We'd love to have you. We do ask that if you want to be one of these that you participate as well. I mean, that's the point, right? ;)
Let's change the world, girls and ladies!
Well, while Kiera is off on her dream trip to Switzerland -much deserved (and I'm horribly jealous), I am holding down the she. fort. :) I want to talk about the little girl inside of us today.
Do you remember when you were little and you thought you could be anything? Maybe you wore your mom's heels around and put on "fancy" clothes. Maybe you wanted to be a princess or a queen. Maybe you sat all of your dolls around and pretended to be a teacher. Maybe you talked of being a singer or a doctor, or maybe both! As children, we have a much different view of the world and of ourselves.
Do you ever notice how much confidence a 3 year old has? Listen to what a toddler says. They are full of love for others and themselves. They believe they are the most important person in the world, a sort of self-centeredness that isn't bad because I'm here to tell you something. You ARE the most important person in the world. That's not to say we shouldn't do for others, care for and love people fiercely and do everything we can to keep our loved ones, especially children, happy and safe. We should do all of those things. But, we shouldn't forget about ourselves in the process. How can the people around us be completely happy if we aren't?
We shouldn't forget about those dreams we had as children or that way we believed in ourselves and our abilities 100%. Where do we lose that? We lose it by what people say to us, by what we hear others talk about, by the images and beliefs we see in the media. It makes us lose our faith that we can be anything and anyone we truly want to be. People start telling us early on that we aren't good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, fast enough, strong enough. Then, we start to tell that to ourselves.
Let's go back to those toddlers. They have confidence in everything they do and say. That picture of a dog that looks like just a bunch of misshapen circles? They see a dog and think it's the best picture they've ever created. That is, until, someone tells them it doesn't look like a dog. Or they see Sarah's picture and hers "really looks like a dog". Then, the self doubt comes in. The "I can't draw, I'm not good enough, I'm comparing myself to everyone now" doubt. And then, it spirals and becomes part of everything we do, worsening as we hit the awkward stages of puberty, continuing on to adulthood. Adulthood is where we really let other's opinions and the messed up beliefs about who and what we are cloud all we do. If we don't take the safe route and get a business degree, we may (gasp!) do something we are truly dreaming of. I took the safe route. I hated it. It worked out since I went to school for education and business, but it wasn't what I wanted to do. I wanted to have a creative job. It took me until 29 to gain the confidence to follow my dream and it has worked out in ways I couldn't imagine, at least not since I was that confident little girl.
If we are overweight, instead of taking a stand to get healthy and feel good, we compare ourselves to others and get lost within ourselves. What we should really say is "I'm perfectly fine as I am and I will love the person I am while working to make myself the best version of ME that I can be". If our hair isn't like a woman's hair in the shampoo commercial, or our eyes aren't the right color or our skin has wrinkles, we beat ourselves up. Why? We shouldn't want to be like the other people. We want to be US. We should wear our wrinkles like armor. They show we've lived. Some of our wrinkles show we smile and laugh a lot. What's wrong with that?
So, a sort of assignment for you all. Go back to that little girl, talk to her. Remember that feeling that you could be what you want to be and find a way to live it now, regardless of what anyone says or thinks. Second, pay attention to what you say and show to your daughters, nieces, cousins, etc. You'll notice we all do it. We have all of those beliefs we came to trust were real and we're handing them down. Instead, let's let them believe they can be anything, let them have strength, hope, and feel empowered. That's what life is all about.
One last thing. Please consider buying a "she." t-shirt. You can click the "merchandise" link from our home page. Help us reach our goal of selling 50 by the 14th! Thank you!