I had a week to make the most of my time in the North Island of New Zealand. I asked my friend, and fellow American expat, if she would be keen to join my daughter and me, and she gave us an emphatic YES! We had less than 24 hours to plan an epic week, jam-packed full of adventures and a large TO-DO list.
Like I said, we didn't have long to prepare. I knew we would be taking two cars, which meant that I was going to be in the car alone with my toddler for long periods of time. This meant one thing.... SNACKS! I've limited her mid-morning and afternoons snacks of late, but when it comes to traveling with kids, snacks are sacred.
HOT TIP: I have blogged about this before, so have a read, especially if your are flying internationally with your munchkins.
In order to prepare for success, I hit up the shops the day we left. I bought trail mix, cherry tomatoes, popcorn, mandarines, apples, bananas, organic rolled oats, peanut butter, our homemade breakfast seed topping and a few organic baby food pouches (meat and veg only, no fruit) if I was caught in a pinch.
I also brought my slow cooker! Yep, you read that right. I knew that two nights we would be out in the bush, super remote and without wifi. I purchased everything I'd need to make a healthy veggie filled minestrone soup that would feed the three of us for two hearty dinners.
First Stop: Taupo
We booked and Airbnb a stones throw from Lake Taupo. It was a little A-frame cabin that was super cozy. We woke up early the following morning and watched a pink sunrise over Lake Taupo and Mt Taupo. It was spellbinding!
Pit Stop: Rotorua
We were only 40 minutes away from the highly recommended Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Wonderland, and this was a non-negotiable, must-see in my book! To get there, we drove along the Thermal Explorer Highway which was incredibly scenic and showcases a myriad of lakes, hot springs, geysers, natural spas and mud pools.
Second Stop: Waitomo
We stayed at the Rock Retreat in Waitomo. As the name implies, it's a retreat, surrounded by rock formations and clusters that hold an insane resemblance to the Scottish highlands. We stayed in a quaint cabin, with a resident border collie, and we only had a wood burning fire place for heating. It was quite romantic and seemed like the perfect backdrop for an episode of Outlander.
My favourite parts of the cabin itself were:
The organisation of the kitchen with rubbish, recycling AND compost.
That you had to grind our own coffee beans in an ancient wall mounted churning device from back in the day.
The balcony overlooking the valley and the white puffy sheep that frequented our knolls.
The ladder to the attic with a kids play area and extra beds upstairs.
HOT TIP: You can follow Rock Retreat on Instagram
We were only 13 minutes from the famous Waitomo Glow Worm Caves, which was another must-see on our list. We loved the tour and can't recommend it highly enough. I particularly like that the caves were privately owned and all the employees were direct descendants of the Maori tribe leader who discovered the caves over 130 years ago.
Pit Stop: Zealong Tea Estate
We had a long drive ahead of us from Waitomo to Auckland, so we timed our pit stop perfectly to stretch our legs and explore the Zealong organic tea farm. We made a booking for their scrumptious high tea, which is only $49 and included 6-8 cups of tea from a bag of your choosing. Zealong have won a number of awards and it's not hard to see why. The grounds are exceptionally well kept and tidy, littered with large Japanese inspired bronze statues, tea pots and dragons. The tea tasting room looked like something out of a futuristic sci-fi movie and was immaculate. Highly recommend stopping by for a tour, a bite to eat and look around their magnificent grounds.
Stop 3: Auckland
To be fair, we only drove past Auckland and didn't have a proper look. I heard it was quite similar to Melbourne, but not as nice. After all the remote explorations we had soaked up, the last place I wanted to be was a big city. A proper coffee was tempting, but we opted to stay in the inner city suburbs for a night and had some bomb Italian for dinner. We wanted to get an early start the next morning for The Coromandel.
At this point we had connected with our hubbys, so our party size doubled, and so did the fun. We all decided that the best way to see the Coromandel would be by boat tour. We booked online that morning and made the 2pm tour. The water was still and we had no waves in sight. This was a huge relief for me because I get dreadfully seasick. The tour was an hour long and featured some stunning caves, the Te Whanganui-A-Hei Marine Reserve and the famous Cathedral Cove.
After the tour, we decided to hit up Hot Water Beach. Be sure to bring a shovel with because the novelty here is that you can dig your own spa! When you dig a hole in the sand, hot geothermal water under the sand gurgles up and makes a hot (sometime scolding hot) spa. We all burned our feet on a few occasions, but it was so fun trying to find the perfect spot, which did take a lot of trial and error. We all watched the sunset from our mini sand hot tub and walked home in the pitch black. It was such a fun, unique experience and not one you replicate anywhere else in the world I believe.
The Pit Stops on the Journey Home (The Coromandel ---> Hawkes Bay 5.5 hours)
Huka Falls : ragging waterfall, be sure to check it out.
Be sure to stop at the Otumuheke Stream as well. Warm geothermal water from the Otumuheke Stream flows into the Waikoto river, creating a mini spa with healing mineral water. It is open every single day and totally FREE.
Well that's it! Hope this has given you some guidance in preparation for your north island adventures. If you have any lingering questions, please pop them in the comments below.
Congrats! You're preggers. You're growing another being, and all your energy is going towards harvesting another person's vital organs, eyelashes and fingernails. How bizzare, right?!
Pregnancy is not a one size fits all experience. Some women wear pregnancy like a glove, glow the whole 40 weeks and have a three hour labour. Others might have horrible morning sickness, suffer daily back pain and have a 20+ hour labour. We cannot pigeon hole what experiences may or may not come your way.
Having said that, there are some things I feel we can touch on because a fair few us have had to deal with pregnancy cravings.
My OB is renowned in Melbourne and an absolute legend. I can't recommend him highly enough, and just quietly, I'm totally devo that we don't live in Melbourne anymore because we always said we wanted him to deliver all of our kids! You can listen to this 2 minute snippet with Dr Jo and Rebecca Judd on the MamaMia Podcast where he shares one of his incredibly sweet birthing rituals. (It brought me to tears listening to it because we did it for my daughter's birth and I had a beautiful flashback).
Around my 33+ week I remember having a chat with Dr Jo and he explained that we only need about 200 extra calories a day toward the end of the pregnancy. 200! That's about 1/2 a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, NOT a pint size container of Ben and Jerry's ice cream.
But I get it. We're pregnant, uncomfortable and can have an insatiable appetite, especially if you are on steroids like I was (the worse side effect EVER)! We feel like it's our time to celebrate and indulge (it is), but we also want make educated decisions that will be good for us and for our bub.
Here are a few tips and tricks that I've implemented during my pregnancies:
1. Listen to your body
I've always been an intuitive eater, and I think it's good to be honest and forthcoming with what your body is trying to tell you. If you're pregnant and want to lick dirty potatoes, you're body is probably needing some essential vitamins and minerals! I'm not a huge red meat consumer, but I craved it fiercely with my first pregnancy. Turns out I was in the single digits for my iron levels = I was severely iron deficient (like really, really bad).
2. Make healthy swaps
Here are a few healthy swaps worth trying :: If you're craving this, try ________________ .
Snickers bar vs. RAW SNICKERS
Store bought, or boxed brownie mix vs. AVOCADO BROWNIES
Chocolate mouse vs. OVERNIGHT CHOCOLATE CHIA SEED PUDDING
Grab and go store bought granola bar vs. SWEET AND SALTY TRAIL MIX BARS
Greasy burger out vs. homemade SALMON BURGERS WITH SLAW
A mountain of cafe pancakes vs. HOMEMADE PANCAKES FOR 1
3. Be flexible
If you deny yourself time and time again without giving yourself a solid WHY.... you'll most likely binge and end up feeling really guilty. If I really want something, and can't stop thinking about it for a few days, I'll ask my husband to get it for me and throughly enjoy it. Leanne Ward, the Fitness Dietitian, shared a wonderful blog post about how to prevent binge eating and combat sugar cravings... have a read!
4. Make it from scratch
"Eat all the junk food you want, as long as you make it from scratch." This is Michale Pollan's #45th rule from his book, Food Rules. I love this rule so much! Eat whatever junk you want as long as you make it.... it's so completely and utterly brilliant. Why? Because if you have to make an apple pie from scratch, you'll either,
A. Rethink making it all together (most likely).
B. Spend an hour plus making and baking it and really appreciate it bite by bite.
C. You'll most likely have consumed a healthier version compared to a store bought apple pie.
HOT TIP: Speaking of sweets! If you're looking to really indulge, I highly recommend these two desserts. This vegan chocolate pie is healthy, and these peanut butter chocolate chip cheesecake bars, not so much healthy- but bloody delish.
I eat five times a day without fail. This means I always have morning tea and afternoon snack, at least! I'm an intuitive eater and eat when my body us hungry- plain and simple.
Here are a few of my favourite snacks which have a nice blend of sweet and savory:
- Organic apple with crunchy peanut butter
- Veggie sticks with hummus
- Shared mini cheese board (pregnancy safe), with dried fruit (ex: apricots, prunes, pineapple), fresh fruit (ex: apple, mandarin, crispy pear), walnuts, and pickles. This makes a great dessert or netflix platter in our house.
- Cookie Dough Energy Bites (family FAV)
- Lemon Coconut chia energy balls
- Pumpkin bread
- This healthy banana bread
Hope that helped guys.
Wishing you all the best on your pregnancy journey!
I decided to make a little list of things that I do, or have tried, (or think are worth trying), in the event that there are other Mamas out there feeling the same way.
Don't be too hard on yourself
Mum guilt is a thing. Don't berate yourself too much. Each pregnancy is unique in the same way that each and every child is unique. Whether this is your first pregnancy, or your fifth, we can't expect to feel the same way, have our bodies morph into the same shape, crave the same foods, etc. Sometimes these things take time, other times you might feel an inexplicable bond the moment you see the little blue lines on the pregnancy stick.
For me personally, getting pregnant with my daughter was a HUGE milestone; watching our 7 week video of our ultrasound and getting confirmation that the baby was alive makes me cry to this day. THIS pregnancy was less stressful in some ways and more stressful in others. I felt the same overwhelming excitement at the 7 and 12 week scans, but as I talked about in this post, I was in a rough headspace the first few months.
I was also relieved when I had my morphology scan and found out about about my very low placenta. Because my placenta was so low, the baby was punching and kicking my placenta instead of my belly wall. When the baby got bigger and stronger I'd be able to feel it move, and boy oh boy this kid is ACTIVE!
I used to teach meditation when I lived in Melbourne, and I found that I preferred to teach it rather than practice it! Meditation is something that I struggle with, and that's not easy to confess as a yoga instructor!
I think the best type of meditation practice is on your own, in silence. But if you need, or prefer, guidance I've tried Headspace and YogaGlo. According to Women's Health Magazine, these were the six best mediation apps of 2018.
Do prenatal yoga
This is a great way to slow down, connect to your breath and be present. Good prenatal teachers will not just take you through asanas, they will, (and should), bring it back to your pregnancy, your experience, your bub.
Talk to your baby
Might seem weird, but have you ever talked out-loud to yourself?
I do all the time because I've spent a lot of time on my own over the years! In the same way that we mumble and chat away to ourselves in our apartment or wandering through the grocery aisle, you can chat to your bub too. Maybe ask them how they are in the morning, what they feel like eating before lunch or say goodnight to them after your evening wind down.
Find out the Gender
If you're feeling a bit disconnected from the baby, consider finding out the gender with the Harmony test (week 10-12) or at the 20 week morphology scan. This might help you to visualise your life together after the birth, make picking a name more personal and could possibly expedite the bonding process.
Start Nesting Early
Start to prepare for bub's arrival by doing all the fun things:
Ask your friends for positive stories
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Listening to positive experiences and practicing visualisation is a great way to set yourself up for success. I've been asking my friends with two kids what I need to know and how I can prepare for success. We both laugh and they say the first three months are all about survival, which I get 100%. Everyone tells me it's the hardest thing ever, but that the time goes more quickly and the tender moments are even sweeter. I got a glimpse as to what this might be like when I watched my daughter hold a seven week old baby the other day. My daughter thought she was holding her new sibling, and was besotted. She demanded more cuddles and stroked the baby's face and didn't want to share the cuddle time. I had to explain that this wasn't our baby, but seeing her hold the wee one nearly brought me to joyful tears. I will no doubt reflect on that memory when I am in struggle-town during labour.
Wishing you all the best and a healthy, happy pregnancy.
If you (or someone you know) is struggling with anxiety and depression while pregnant, or after the birth, don't hesitate to reach out to people like PANDA (Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia) and speak to a professional.
It's almost Mother's Day, so I've accumulated a list of ideas for the special women in your life!
Cleverhand is owned and operated by the lovely Emily Wilson who lives in Sydney, Australia.
I've purchased two custom prints from her and they are both my favourite pieces of art we have in our home.
A nice idea would be to get your Mum's favourite quote/song or to have all the members of your family written (like the image below).
HOT TIP: ALL MOTHER’S DAY ORDERS TO BE PLACED BY MIDNIGHT ON FRIDAY 3RD MAY. ORDERS SENT ON WEDNESDAY 8TH MAY.
Joco Reusable Cup
JOCO reusable glass coffee cups are so nice, ergonomic and eco-friendly. I LOVE mine which I got as a promo from The Source Bulk Foods in Rhodes, NSW. I love it so much in fact, that I actually went back and got my husband one as well! These would be great for the eco-conscious Mum, Mum-to-be or MIL.... and you could even fill them with some healthy homemade treats or goodies from The Source Bulk Foods.
HOT TIP: Other reusable cup brands here.
Black Chicken Remedies Skincare Travel Set
This Travel Set is an excellent way to introduce your Mum to the benefits of low-tox beauty. You get 7 of their outstanding products in a cute black and teal travel kit.
What's inside? Their oil cleanser, exfoliating polish, toning mist, facial serum, multi-purpose balm, body oil and their all-natural deodorant. All of these items are to die for, all-natural, cruelty free and toxin free!
Notes To My Future Daughter
Catie Gett is the author of Notes To My Future Daughter, and this would be an incredibly thoughtful gift for a a Mumma-to-be that knows she is expecting a girl, or any Mum for that matter.
HOT TIP: Check out her Instagram, it is all kinds of wonderful.
GoodnessME Box Gift Subscription
Looking for a fun, unique gift that will keep them on their toes?
Gift a GoodnessMe Box for three months, and it's only $85! Each box has 7-10 health products and samples that have been hand picked and curated by a team of nutritionists, naturopaths and doctors. If need be, you can even set dietary requirements for the gifted boxes (for example: gluten free, dairy free, vegan, gluten and dairy free).
GoodnessMe also offer free shipping Australia wide which is always a bonus in my book since I think everything should be free shipping!
Sorry that this post wasn't up sooner!
All the best on the hunt for the perfect present!
There is something about being pregnant that seems to lift a lot of people's proverbial filter, am I right?
The uninvited belly touching, the crazy personal questions, it's enough to make your head spin, exorcist style. I'm lucky mine have been quite tame this time around. Here are my top asked questions thus far, with my answers attached as well:
1. Are you going to find out the gender?
2. Would you prefer a boy or a girl?
I'd love to give my husband the boy he has always dreamed of.
I wanted my firstborn to be a boy, but I was so happy once I give birth to and met my baby girl!
3. How far along are you?
4. Are you going public or private for the birth?
5. Where are you having the baby?
Westmead Private, Westmead in their brand new maternity suite which opens in March 2019.
It's like a 5 star hotel, I'm so pumped!
6. Have you chosen a name?
We don't have a boy name yet, and we have nearly decided on a girl's first name.
7. Do you have any cravings?
Spicy food, asian food, fish tacos, Indian food and bao buns.
None of which I really eat funnily enough- except for the occasional homemade asian fusion dishes.
8. Are you going to get an epidural?
No thanks! I always aim for as natural a birth as possible.
9. How do you think your daughter will adjust to having a new sibling?
She is so excited to be a big sister! She kisses my tummy all the time and her fav book at the moment is "There's a House Inside My Mummy."
10. How do you feel about giving birth again?
I'm excited I guess. I know I'll hate the waiting game in the final few weeks, but I had a really good birth experience with my daughter.... even though it didn't remotely go to plan (read my birth story here) and we had some big hiccups.
I can't wait to grow our little family and introduce our little bubba to her sister, and the world.
11. What are your favourite green beauty brands to use during pregnancy?
Black Chicken Remedies: 1. All natural deodorant 2. The skin complexion polish and
3. The nocturnalist night serum
For an even complexion: La Mav Organic BB cream (medium shade)
For added face hydration: Biologi, Bf Hydration body serum
For sunscreen: Simple as That, SPF 30
For my belly and my daughter's skin too: Byron Baby macadamia oil
(I'll do another blog post about these and more later on)
Are you pregnant too? Tell me in the comments below the craziest thing you've been asked!
Spiritually tuned in.
Ayda had to create her own empire, single handedly. She wasn't a trust fund baby, and she wasn't handed the reins to any of her companies through nepotism. From a very young age Ayda learned that hard work was a necessity if you wanted to have financial freedom.
Ayda's family left the revolution in Iran to seek a better life in Australia where they were granted residency through her father's skilled working visa as a successful engineer. Ayda was only 4 years old when she landed Down Under and didn't speak a lick of English. Ayda distinctly remembers the routine of boarding the bus with her mother weekly to attend English classes in the CBD. One particular memory that has seared into Ayda's memory is witnessing her mother's helplessness due to her lack of an education. Yet, her mother persisted and continued to board their bus, with a prejudice bus driver no less, in an attempt to make Ayda's life better.
Ayda gets goosebumps sharing this story to this day. It most definitely fueled the fire in her belly to be hungry for knowledge, and subsequent freedom to be given the opportunity to do whatever she set her mind to.
The adversity didn't stop there though, as Ayda found herself treading though her tumultuous teenage years where she lacked the stability of a steady home life. When many others would have succumb to complacency, Ayda decided to carve a path for her future, and she landed her first job at Hungry Jacks (Burger King) making $7.50 a hour. This job allowed Ayda to move out of home at the age of 16 years old where she became entirely self-sufficient and started saving her cash. Keeping her nose to the grindstone, and deep in her school books, meant that Ayda was able to purchase her first property at the ripe age of 18!
Ayda has been working in property ever since and has founded multiple seven figure companies and boasts a property portfolio worth over 10 million dollars. She's ambitious, determined and passionate about making other GenY men and women property owners too.
In order to help facilitate this, Ayda has co-founded a company called Grow Group. Their aim is to help clients from all walks of life source and purchase property easily. All the consultants own property and are successful investors in their own right, so you know you're in good hands. In order to introduce more people to the road to property ownership, Ayda and her team host an introductory workshop via Grow Group, and I had the pleasure of attending one of their events last week. The evening was hosted at their swanky office in Pyrmont and included bubbles, food and an opportunity to mix socially with the other guests. The workshop itself was fascinating with a lovely introduction from Ayda and an easy to understand powerpoint presentation plus a complimentary learn as you go notebook to help you answer some important questions. There were loads of boogie breaks to dance out any restless legs and the team were such gracious hosts. I highly recommend attending a workshop in person if you can. Keep your eyes peeled because they are available in Brisbane, Sydney AND Melbourne!
But, now I want to share more about the woman behind all the magic! So thrilled to have you on today sharing with our readers Ayda!
Let's dive in:
If there was only one thing that you could share with those who aren't familiar with who Ayda Shabanz is, what would that be?
Mmmm. I'm not sure I understand this question, but I would probably say:
Looks can be deceiving. I've been judged on who I am my whole life because of how I look, but that doesn't define who I am.
I am Strong. I am independent. I am wild and free spirited. I am down to earth. I am adventurous. I am courageous.
I've been through many struggles, and I'm sure there are more to come.
I believe that my life has unfolded in such a way so that I can understand and empower people to show the world what we are capable of.
(Oh wow, that was uplifting. I almost stood up off my chair with my fist to the sky - ha ha!)
You talked a lot about your WHY during the workshop; (the motivating factor that propelled you into this line of work and property ownership). How crucial is this step of carving out a WHY if a client wants to achieve financial success and freedom?
I feel like the journey through life is a constant search for meaning after meaning. You don't have to know the reason for life today, I just want to stress that point. Many people struggle with this idea and it creates a lot of stress. Your WHY is more in relation to having a clear picture of what you want your life to look like in 5 years to 10 years. If you can't define that clearly, your basically walking through life blindfolded with no real idea where you're headed. So many people don't spend enough time with themselves to figure this part out for themselves.
In terms of investing, it's critical because having an idea of where you want to be allows you to make proper decisions on what type of investment or investing can help achieve your goals. For example, you'd need to know how much money to save, how much you'd need to earn and what types of investments are available to you. So many people get this part wrong or leave it out!
Also, it's OK if it things change along the way - hence why you review your plans annually.
Some people may not know that you are also a successful business coach. What does a business coach do exactly, and when should a business owner take the step to recruit one themselves?
I love helping other business people. It's all about making better decisions and getting faster results.
There are many different types of coaches and their ultimate goal is to help you get a better result to achieve your aspirations. In terms of business coaching, this is in relation to one's specific business. A business coach will keep you accountable and help you formulate your goals into a set strategy and implement them into results. They should provide experience and insight in business areas beyond your level of experience. Business coaches also act as a sounding board around questions and/or decision making as well as opening you up to a network of people that can help you achieve your goals.
I have, and continue to have, all types of coaches in my life (business, life and spiritual), and in my opinion everyone should have one. Especially if your business is slowing your own growth because you're trying to do it all on your own. In a start-up phase it's even more crucial to do it right and get the correct guidance.
Did you know that your Persian derived name, Ayda, means, “Visitor, returning, inside the moon, happy, angel of love?"
Yeah, it has lots of meanings which are all amazing and around bright light. I do believe I have a big purpose here. x
The different meanings of the name Aida are:
Arabic meaning: visitor, returning.
Swahili meaning: advantage, reward.
Persian meaning: shining like a moon or beautiful as a moon.
Turkish meaning: a special flower that grows beside the river.
You shared an outstanding quote during the workshop from Warren Buffet, which reads, "Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful."
Can you tell us about a time in your last 16 years of business that this rang true for you?
I've seen this many times in my 16 years, but more specifically in terms of GFC or times of financial crisis. I've seen many people ready to benefit when times are down and many people make fearful mistakes.
For example, we purchased loads of property for clients in 2003-2008 in Sydney when the market was so flat people thought it would never recover. So, we took the opportunity, and as a result, our clients reaped the benefits when the market boomed. It's all cycles, you just have to trust your own numbers and hold on for the ride.
What is it about Gen Y that makes them an ideal target audience for Grow Consulting Group?
I'm a Gen Y gal and I've been in business for 16 years. I've seen so many people do it wrong, and I want to help everyone. But now, more then ever, I want to help my generation because I understand what we've been through (and are going through).
Work/life balance is: possible, or a myth?
It's always a matter of priority. I think balance is possible, but that comes with making tough choices. For example, saying no to certain things you want so that you can give yourself the things you need, or saying no to watching TV because you want to exercise. These kinds of choices can make having a reasonable balance possible.
Finish this sentence: Social media is...
an opportunity to reach and help more people if you are authentic and real.
Owning multiple properties has allowed me to ___________________, which has changed my life for the better because _______________________ .
Owning multiple properties has allowed me to have choices, which has changed my life for the better because now I have the opportunities to grow myself, my business, and do more of the things that I love.
What is your definition of success?
Loving who you are, loving what you do with your time and making a positive impact on the people you touch and the world.
... ALL with a big smile on your face, and light flashing off your aura (I know I'm strange).
What is the first thing you do every single morning?
I make my bed, then make a tea or celery juice, light a candle and meditate.
At a few of your speaking engagements I've heard you discuss the importance of meditation. How does this mindfulness practice enhance your day to day life?
It helps me to reconnect with myself and my purpose. Busy lives make us disconnect from our spirit.
As a busy business woman with a hectic schedule, how do you practice self-care? Or, is this an unnecessary indulgence in your opinion?
Self-care is putting yourself first when you need to. I totally have to do this because I give a lot of energy every day to my work, meetings and staff. I practice self-care a few different ways:
meditation, walking outdoors, cooking, reading and sleeping when I need to. Oh, and listening to beautiful music as well.
What is your 2019 forecast for the Australian property market?
I see opportunity for those willing to not get sucked into the negative talk.
What do you do to get the creative juices flowing?
Listen to music. I prefer jazz or classical tunes.
Getting outdoors and exploring nature.
Getting out of the city and working in creative places.
Listening to uplifting YouTube videos.
Who is your greatest inspiration and why?
Oprah. She fought many obstacles in her life, but she's a resilient and empowered black women who accomplished things people couldn't even begin to imagine. She has stayed true to her values, who she is and has never changed. She inspires so many people from her life and her struggles. Recently, I also love Lady Gaga.
Give us your fast five:
I'm listening to: Jay Shetty.
I'm loving: exploring new walking tracks.
I'm reading: Ray Dalio, The Principals.
I'm eating: I'm always cooking new things. Currently I'm eating a lot of homemade, organic paleo based food.
I'm loathing: the businesses that serve no purpose in Sydney.
Growing another human takes a toll on the body, there is no denying it! Some of the most common issues we hear about in the health and wellness industry are; SIJ joint pain, sciatica, and general low back pain. I've taught prenatal yoga for years now and these are typically the issues I hear about the most when ladies hit their yoga mats.
What are some common causes for these issues?
Weight gain. Duh. It has to happen gals!
The centre of gravity is shifting due to baby in your womb.
Postural changes which can create a lordotic curve in the spine.
An influx of relaxin and oestrogen which can create joint laxity, (especially in the pelvis).
My second pregnancy is going well so far, but I've had some low back discomfort after out epic road trip down to Melbourne. We drove from Sydney to Melbourne in one day, a total of 12 hours of travel. I did quite a bit of yoga that week at The Base Yoga, which helped a lot, and I also walked frequently. A week later, we packed up the car again and made an 11 hours trip home in a single day. Needless to say, my low back was not so happy with me at this point, and I wanted to get on top of the issue before it worsened. After all, once issues start compiling during your pregnancy, they seem to worsen if they are ignored.
I booked in to have an adjustment with Dr Evan, affectionally called Chiro Evan, followed by a remedial massage with Rima at the incredible Selph Health Studios in Rosebery, NSW. Evan recommended the adjustment first which helps to reestablish the new tissues and the massage to follow through with the corrections. This was truly an incredible combination, and one that I would not have thought of myself.
Although it wasn't my first time meeting Evan, it was my first time having an adjustment with him. I felt so welcomed into the space and really confident with his skills. Evan has a bachelor of Chiropractic Science as well as a Masters in Chiropractic, which is very impressive. He found congested places in my body that I had not even mentioned on my admission forms. Evan was so open for discussion about what I needed and we found the perfect ways to move and adjust my pregnant body. One of my favourite parts of the appointment was the ability to safely lie on my stomach in their little egg cup pillow. This made my low back treatment a lot easier, and we were able to fix the discrepancy in my leg lengths and loosened up the muscles aggravating my SIJ. I also had my upper thoracic adjusted and my neck as well, a personal favourite. Even though I had implicit trust in Evan, he must have noticed I was ever so slightly tense as he cradled my head in his hands. He told me to wiggle my right toe, and BAM, there was my neck adjustment beautifully executed. Clever redirection technique right there! I think it's paramount to find a chiropractor that you can trust in a day and age when people so base their search on preferred health providers alone.
Lastly, Evan performed N.E.T. which stands for neuro emotional technique. Evan was the first person to ever tell me about this incredible treatment, and I was baffled that I'd never heard of it before. The idea behind N.E.T is to find and address where stressful responses have taken hold in the body. Emotions are believed to be at the core of every stress, symptom and disease. Therefore, the goal of N.E.T. is locate and remove these imbalances in the body that are associated with the physiology of this unresolved stress. My evaluation went well, but Evan said my kidneys needed some attention and that I should increase my fluid intake and add some fresh berries and beans to my diet for my benefit bub's too.
DEEPER LOOK: Have a look at a simplified N.E.T. assessment chat here
After the adjustment I went into an adjacent room to meet Rima for my massage. Rima has 10 years of experience in the health and wellness industry and specialises in remedial, sports, pregnancy, and Swedish massage. The first thing Rima did was welcome me and ask me how I was feeling today. I noticed this common thread with the practitioners there; they are all genuinely interested in how you are as a person, not just your symptoms. We talked about what was to be expected from my treatment and I snuggled into another pregnancy pillow which allowed me to relax safely on my belly. The room, the music, even the essential oils that were being diffused made this an sensory experience to remember. I throughly enjoyed the massage and it was the perfect pairing after the adjustment. Rima delivered excellent pressure during the treatment as well, which I really appreciated because sometimes masseuses will barely apply pressure on a pregnant woman!
I left Selph Health Studios feeling more comfortable, completely relaxed and more clear headed. I meandered to my car and drove home in complete silence- no radio, no phone calls, nothing. I felt nurtured, supported and I will 100% be returning to keep up with my pregnancy care and birth preparation.
For some, pregnancy is a breeze. My first pregnancy was a cat walk (for the most part), in that I never got sick and felt really good 95% of the time. My biggest complaints were a strong intolerance for the smell of garbage and I didn't crave veggies during the first trimester. Oh, and how could I forget, I was 30+ weeks pregnant during Queensland summer, which was tough.
This time around has been a doozy, and I've had some really, really rough days (yup, not just morning sickness, all-hours-of-the-day-sickness).
Here are a few things that have helped:
1. Ginger tea
I'm not a fan of ginger, but when I found out that it was a quick and easy remedy for morning sickness, I was all about it! Ginger is a part of the zingiberaceae family, alongside the well known turmeric and cardamom, and it's most commonly used for reducing nausea, pain and inflammation. I try to add it to my cooking, especially if I'm making an asian dish, such as this.
Need tea inspo? You might like this or this brand.
2. Candied Ginger
I purchase this from The Source Bulk Foods to have on hand in a jiffy. It's great to eat as is, or to place in a cup of tea, or mug of boiling water for a quick fix.
My daughter likes to snack on these as well, so win-win!
3. Plain biscuits
I normally avoid plain biscuits because they have zero nutritional value and serve no purpose except a massive hit of carbs to your daily intake. Every night I'd place a mini pack of Premiums (4 crackers) on the night stand, and if I needed to take the edge off, I'd grab 1 or 2 on my way back to bed and catch some more Z's after my morning trip to the loo. I also needed to take my steroids as early as possible each morning (no later than 7am), so if I felt like I could stomach it, I'd take my tablets with the crackers and head back to sleep. This was a bland and tolerable snack that really works wonders for me.
4. Frequent, small meals
5 times a day, 8 times a day, whatever you need to keep that sickness at bay.
For me, in the early days, it looked a little something like this:
6:30am: Small brekkie with morning meds (simple toast, peanut butter with banana and hemp/chia seeds)
7:30-8am: Second breakfast (eggs and a fruit salad or a smoothie)
Morning tea: 10am (homemade energy ball, or 2)
Lunch:12pm (Salad with veggies, nuts and a protein)
Afternoon snack: 2/3pm (apple with peanut butter or a hard boiled egg x 1)
Dinner: 5-5:30pm (nothing too heavy)
7pm Evening treat: Cob's organic popcorn, a cold orange, or a mediterranean platter with preggo-safe cheese, nuts, pickles and dried fruit
5. Ask for help
"There is no award for being a martyr," I say. Stop trying to do it all for the praise of... whom? Ask your parents, friends or neighbors if and when you need assistance. Call the babysitter to come over and stay in the house while you nap. Make yourself a priority because you can't pour from an empty cup. I'm not a first time mum, so I need to keep well in order to look after my daughter and keep my own body a healthy and happy place for my growing bub.
6. Connect with your community
Pretty straight forward this one. If you're pregnant with your second child, make sure you hit up everything on offer in your town, such as: music classes; playgroups; church groups and gymbaroo. Keeping busy is a great way to help pass those long pregnancy months, and you will probably meet some other mums that are expecting as well.
If you're a first time mum; keep busy! Go to prenatal yoga classes, volunteer, join a book club or keep pinning all your favourite baby things on Pinterest. The first trimester can feel like forever and a day, especially if you aren't feeling well! Focus your energies on productive activities and keep a positive mindset!
Know a friend who is pregnant and might enjoy this advice? Pease share this post with them!
I thought I would share a little bit about our experience returning to life after our toddler's first bout of gastro.
If you follow me on Instagram, you know that my daughter is an amazing eater, not picky and eats a variety of multi coloured fruits and veggies. I'm not ashamed to say I take a lot of pride in this, and I hope she is always adventurous with her cuisine. However, transitioning her back to normal food after being sick worried me immensely. Would she only want dry crackers and toast for ever? Would she go back to eating veggies after three plus days without food?
I figured that if I had these anxieties, I probably wasn't alone. So, I decided to share a few things we have tried and worked well for us. I wrote this post over the course of a week as we navigated these new waters, and man it has been challenging!
Feel free to take bits and pieces that suit you and your children. Some of our movements were deliberate, others were trial and error.
1. BRAT diet:
Bananas, rice, apples and toast.
These are great places to reintroduce food to your toddler, or anyone recovering from gastro quite frankly. I grew up with this method and I swear by it to this day. These foods are gentle on the tummy and bland, which is easy for digestion.
Dry toast is a good place to start, and you can always add topping as you go. I added a little bit of honey to my daughter's toast to entice her to eat it, but also to help get her sugars up since they were so low from severe dehydration. Honey is great for antioxidants and is also antibacterial.
* Honey IS NOT RECOMMENDED for children under the age of one.
Other ideas are to progressively add to the toast as time goes on. For instance, maybe a thin spread of calcium dense tahini and then mashed banana on top.
Not a fan of plain rice? Add grated apple into the rice for some sweetness.
Do they find bananas boring? Slice them up and sprinkle them with a few chia seeds.
2. Avoid Dairy
Avoid milk and dairy for the first few days. You may want to see your child eat again, no matter what it is, but things like whole milk, sugary foods, soda and candy can all worsen diarrhea.
3. Keep Fluids Up!
Do whatever you can to keep those fluids up!
Our daughter refused water off and on for about two days after we left the ER which was pretty stressful. After a follow up with our GP, he suggested using a syringe to give her water and gave us a 6ml syringe to take home. She loved it! I guess it was the novelty of something different, but it worked for us. You don't need to go to the doc to get your hands on one, you can simply use the ones you have to administered medicine like Tylenol. Just make sure it's washed well and cleaned after each use.
4. Stick To The Rules
This might divide the crowd, but so be it. Once my daughter started to eat again, I assumed she would keep eating normally. This wasn't the case sadly. For instance, one morning, just a few days after her sickness, she surprised me and had toast, a scrambled egg and a few tablespoons of yogurt. That afternoon she didn't eat any lunch or dinner! I was confused and frustrated because I didn't know why she was putting up a struggle. Did she not like what I offered? Was this the opportunity for her to finally be picky? Or was she still not feeling fantastic and couldn't communicate that to me?
The following night I made a veggie quinoa salad and salmon (her fav). She didn't eat the meal, so I packed it up and put it away in the fridge. An hour later she said she was hungry, so sticking to our rules, I re-offered what she had, not something else. She gagged on the salmon and my mouth nearly hit the floor. Gagging on her fav food of all time- I was so perplexed! Clearly she wasn't ready for that taste, texture smell or whatever. Instead of offering her a sugary sweet or something else, she was fine with water and going to bed. I don't offer her other food if she has refused what was given at dinner, because once you start making substitutions to appease your children, you'll never be able to stop.
5. Reintroduce Dairy Slowly
When you do decide to reintroduce dairy, start small... think baby steps. We started with gut healthy kefir and greek yogurt in tiny doses a few days after her episode.
6. Keep Offering The Norm
Even though she was hit and miss on some meals, I kept offering her what she would normally like on her usual Love Mae tray, as if nothing had ever happened. Consistency is key in my experience. This did mean a lot of food was put back in the fridge, and some stuff was sadly thrown out.
Don't just offer the norm, but stick to the normal schedule too. If your toddler can still sit at the table and watch you eat your meals, this is a good thing. When she wasn't eating, I'd still keep my daughter in her high chair at meal time and let her play with play dough while I ate.
7. So what shall I make?
1. The BRAT diet mentioned above is always a good start
2. If normal finger foods are a challenge, you can't go wrong with bone broth or a heathy soup. Creamy and smooth for the pickier kids during this sensitive time, or chunky if they can tolerate it. You can transition to pouring the homemade soup over some simple, kid-friendly pasta as time progresses.
3. Smoothies are great as well because you can make them with veggies and/or fruit. You also don't need to add any dairy to them. I made my daughter's recovery smoothies with water for added hydration.
In all honesty, she didn't really return to her normal, food loving veggie eating ways until about 8/9 days after she was admitted to hospital. So don't lose hope parents! This was a big surprise for me, but I'm happy that we are back to normal now.
Have you had a similar experience? I would love to hear about it in the comments below.
Preparing for the ER. I get it, I sound whack.
How can you prepare for an emergency? Hence the name, emergency, urgent... but here is the thing, just hear me out. You might read this blog post and add something to your First Aid Kit. Or, maybe you read this and take a subconscious mental note that will help you in the future.
Here are a few things we did, or wish we had done, prior to our awful night and first experience in the the ER with our 1 year old:
Bring a book, or books from their normal routine
I wish we had a book to distract her when she was in a good headspace between vomiting. She LOVES books and I think she would have really enjoyed having a few of her favourites there. If your kid is proficient with the Ipad, bring it. It's always better to be over prepared than underprepared, especially when you don't know how long your stay will be. We don't normally give her our phones, but we happily made an exception and tried to distract her with baby shark and the wiggles which worked for about 20 precious mins.
Make sure you bring a lovie (stuffed animal) they cherish
Anything that will make them feel like they are at home. We brought her huge (almost as big as her) bunny which she calls Be Be. It was nice to have and offered her a lot of comfort just having it around, not that she even cuddled it all that much - but having a piece of home was important I believe.
Bring a change of clothes for bub and wear SHOES
At least one change of clothes, preferably 2-3 sets. Make sure they are wearing socks at a minimum, but preferably closed toed shoes.
Hospitals are rampant with staph and other bacterial nasties, so keep covered up..... all of you. I once met a women who got an infection in her foot after wearing flip flops in the hospital, and it robbed her of quality life immensely, maiming all her muscles into a Swiss cheese like consistency full of holes and unable to work properly. True story.
Bring warm clothes for all of you
ER/hospitals tend to be quite cold, and a spare jumper goes a long way (plus you won't have to ask for one of their hospital blankets. Yuck).
Bring all the necessary cards
You might be in a rush and panicking, but make sure that you have your Medicare card and private health fund card with you. If you don't normally carry these around, I would recommend saving the membership numbers in your notes app on your phone.
I didn't know how bad our little girl would be, or how long we would be in the ER, but I instinctively grabbed some organic raisins on the way out the door at 1:30am. She obviously couldn't have any, but they were handy to have for us.
Bring a hand santiser of your chosing
I forgot mine, and regretted it! I personally don't like hand santisers because they are bad for your gut biome, and typically have some nasty stuff in them. However, Dr. Bronner's has an organic lavender hand spray that is to die for and I love having this is my bag when I really need it. And when you're locked in a disease infested hospital, especially with a kid suffering from gastro, that is a good time to be germ free!
Notepad or Notes App
Most of the time protocol at the ER/hospitals is to collect information and access how to move ahead. For instance, you might be asked to know or track when the last time your baby had a drink - did they vomit - did they get diarrhea? Tick, yes/no. Having a pen and paper handy is a great way to make a chart and stay organised so that you can present the doctor with all the crucial information.
Well, that's it. Hope you don't find yourself near the ER any time soon!
This little corner of the internet is for non-yoga topics like motherhood, low-tox living and green beauty products I love.