I’m so happy and honored to be a stop of the virtual book tour for Hot (Sweaty) Mamas: Five Secrets to Life as a Fit Mom. This inspiring, practical, and hilarious guide to making fitness a part of your — and your kids’ — life has had me rolling out of bed and getting a 10-minute workout in before I even head downstairs for the day. Because, hey, yoga’s great, but sometimes you’ve got to channel your inner Jack LaLane and work up a shvitz. (Yes, yoga can certainly get you sweating, but not usually in 10 minutes unless you’re in a hot-ass room.)
Fitness and mindfulness go hand in hand–nothing clears the head like a run, a bike ride, a stand-up paddle, or whatever pursuit is nearest to your heart. But they’re not the same thing. So I wanted to know how these incredible ladies who are raising six kids (between them), working, and doing triathlons find time for the contemplative arts. Just like their book, their insights are inspiring, practical, and hilarious. I hope you enjoy reading their answers to the MsMindbody Self-Care Questionnaire as much as I did.
I also hope you’ll check out their book! Leave a comment, any kind of comment, to be entered to win one of two copies.
And to get a visual preview of what the book is all about, check out this video of Kara swinging her daughter like a kettlebell–I tried it with my three-year-old. (She was not into it.) (I’ll keep trying — especially because my kettlebell has mysteriously disappeared.)
Take care and keep breathing,
1) How do you take care of yourself?
Kara: In general I think I’m pretty good at this. I tackle the basics like healthy food and exercise. Life is busy and I like being busy, but I’m one to take a nap if I feel the need or take time for other self-care tactics, whether that’s a few deep breaths or getting a massage. One of our secrets in Hot (Sweaty) Mamas is that you have to be as good to your body as you are to your children. I do my best to walk the talk!
Laurie: Self-care can mean something very different to me from one day, one moment, to the next. Ironically, movement seems to calm my mind better than most things so I make exercise an important part of most days. I almost always run outdoors where I can connect with nature, friends, or silence. Less frequently, I need the calm of a still, quiet afternoon to slow my mind and help me reconnect. That’s when I take a mini mommy sabbatical.
2) What made you realize that you needed to learn how to take better care of
Kara: The body speaks! My immune system will let me know when I get a nasty cold or that zit on my chin is a good a sign as any that I’m stressed. When my body sends messages I do my best to listen.
Laurie: Becoming a mother made me realize the importance of self-care. The last secret of our book (Act Like Others Are Watching, Because They Are) really applies to everything in life, which means being fit both physically and mentally will benefit both my children and me.
3) What was your first exposure to the world of mindfulness?
Kara: In my early 20s a friend gave me a copy of Autobiography of a Yogi. I’ve read it many times since.
Laurie: Back in my early twenties, I was an avid rock climber. I didn’t know it at the time, but I used mindfulness techniques quite often to calm my fears on difficult routes. Years later my husband and I took an intense meditation course and I quickly learned I could implement mindfulness in everything I do, even running a marathon.
4) How do you integrate your wellness endeavors into a typical day (or week)?
Kara: My intention each morning is to make time for just two simple sun salutations. Often when I make time for that I go on with a few more poses. When I do this, without question, my day runs more smoothly no matter how much chaos gets thrown my way.
Laurie: As a fitness instructor and a therapist, I’m lucky to have time dedicated each day to focus on wellness activities. For the most part, I plan for daily exercise as well as daily reflection, meditation or yoga. Most days begin with a reading from one of several books I’ve accumulated over the years, followed by a daily workout (usually a run), which puts me in a good place to start my day. I always plan for a few minutes at the end of the day to talk with my husband and process my day, both physically and mentally.
5) How do you invest in your own, personal wellbeing?
Kara: I think the investment of time is more important than how we invest in our health financially. There is value in making myself a spinach salad instead of picking up a burger through the drive through or carving out valuable time in my day to workout.
Laurie: The best investment I make in my personal wellbeing is the investment of time, but sometimes Mother Guilt has a way of making me forget. So, as we say in our book, you have to train your brain before you train your body. I think the mental work is just as important as the physical, so I work hard at identifying, detoxifying, and eliminating the guilt.
6) What do you do to take care of yourself on days you don’t feel like doing anything at all?
Kara: Honoring that choice to do nothing versus feel guilty about it!
Laurie: When I don’t feel like working out, I look forward and back to see what a day off would mean to me. In our book we provide the Sweaty Decision Tree to help readers determine whether or not taking a day off would be in their favor; it’s a framework I use on a regular basis. When I’m tired and need a day to rest, I make sure I get it.
7) What do you do on insanely busy days?
Kara: Just keep swimming. And I hear Ellen DeGeneres’ voice in my head over and over. I wonder if her role in Finding Nemo has kept many moms forging ahead on days they’d rather lock themselves in a closet. Every now and then I’ll hear this little voice that will say, “I can’t do this.” And what I tell the little voice back is: “But you are doing this.”
Laurie: Even on insanely busy days, I try to get in some sort of physical activity (perhaps just a quick walk around the block). But sometimes the chaos is too much and it just doesn’t happen. On days like that I make a decision to take the day off. If the decision is mine—it doesn’t just happen to me—I feel much better about it. I’m in control and will get back on track tomorrow.
8 ) How has your wellness practice changed since you first started?
Kara: You means since having kids, right? That’s what you really want to know! Wellness becomes more important after becoming a mother and the irony is we feel less inclined to take the time, perhaps even allow ourselves the time. I definitely have a “take what I can get” approach, but I also employ the same tactics I use for getting in a workout to getting in my wellness. In Hot (Sweaty) Mamas we suggest a combination of Make Time, Take Time, Share Time and Snare Time for getting in a workout and those tactics can work for most anything else. Sometimes I have to do my sun salutations while avoiding puzzle pieces, with cartoons in the background, or a child trying to follow along. I still think they’re worth doing.
Laurie: My concept of wellness has grown significantly over the past decade. While I used to think there was a “right” way to be physically and mentally fit, I now know there is only a “right for me.” We all have different things that calm and center us. For one person that means silent meditation, for another it is hammering out a tough trail run.
9) What have your forays into the world of wellness taught you about yourself?
Kara: I can put up with a lot of shit. At the same time it’s helped me identify and honor my boundaries.
Laurie: Mostly I’ve learned that wellness is a lifelong journey. I’ve learned that the various stages of my life require I focus on different elements of my self—both physically and mentally.
10) Have you had any major breakthroughs? What were they?
Kara: I had a great experience meditating once. Just once. I felt like I got there. Wherever there is. Just lost myself in meditation. Felt as if I was gone forever but it was just 10 minutes or so. Alas, that was pre-children. Post-children the breakthrough is “getting lost” in the everyday moments whether that’s walking away from the dishes to enjoy the sunset with my daughters or laughing (instead) of crying when I catch my son slathered up in an expensive jar of body lotion.
Laurie: My biggest breakthrough was in the area of meditation. I used to think the goal was to free your mind of all thought. I now understand it’s more than that; it’s learning to be in the present moment. And that skill is something that can be applied anywhere you are and in anything you do. It’s really the secret to happiness—happiness with self, happiness with family, happiness in movement.
11) What books have helped you learn how to take better care of yourself?
Kara: The Four Agreements stands out. And Care of the Soul, which I read years ago, stuck with me. There is a passage in there about how cleaning house is soul work. I couldn’t appreciate it then like I can now cleaning up after four kids.
12) Who have been your role models or teachers?
Kara: My mom has been a great wellness role model. She was a busy working mom but she took time out to be active and socialize. She got up early to have a cup of coffee by herself and do her Jane Fonda video. Apple does not fall far from the tree…
Laurie: One of my biggest role models in the area of wellness is my husband, Tony. He’s one of the most physically fit and mentally tuned-in people I know. And best of all, he’s always willing to share his gift with friends and family. I’m thankful for him every day.
13) What are you working on in your practice these days?
Kara: That’s a tough one as I am hearing “Just keep swimming!” a lot these days. So with that I’m working on those quick ways to integrate wellness, like simply taking a deep breath or three. I have this book called the The Anywhere Anytime Chill Guide, which is helping tremendously. Now on crazy days I’m taking moments to get in child’s pose or to fix myself a cup of chamomile tea. Truly, it does make me less grumpy.
Laurie: After turning 40 last summer, I decided to focus my efforts on strength and flexibility. I’m still running as much as ever, but I’m adding in these other components to honor and protect myself for the years ahead.
14) What’s your favorite vice?
Kara: I don’t think my vices are all that bad. Dark chocolate with sea salt? A good margarita (or two) with friends? No, I don’t really think those are vices, more like treats, which contribute to my overall wellness!
Laurie: Gum. The sugary, little kid, bubble gum kind. Luckily, I have good oral hygiene!
Thanks ladies! And remember! Enter to win a copy of their fabulous book by leaving a comment with your favorite vice.
To see the other great sites participating in the Hot Sweaty Mamas virtual book tour, go here.