The Nanny State Will Not Solve the Sugar Crisis

Image source: Daily Telegraph

Image source: Daily Telegraph

I went to a school in England that provided milk as a morning snack every day.  Adorable, tiny glass bottles of milk.  Milk that was delivered early and sat unrefrigerated and sometimes went sour before we drank it.  Milk that you had to drink, to the last drop, whether you liked it or not.  Milk that would make your bones strong and give you energy.  Milk that made me gag and want to throw up.  I do not drink milk to this day.  (Unless it’s in a latte, and I’m pretty sure the coffee negates any goodness there.)

There is a teacher at my sons’ school who, at the beginning of the year, inspects all her students’ lunch boxes.  She does this in her classroom before the kids go down to eat lunch in the gym, even though she’s technically off duty for lunch.  She tells them what is acceptable and what is unacceptable, and she tells them that they are not allowed to bring certain foods again (sweetened yogurt and raisins and canned fruit and certain kinds of juice, in addition to the obvious chips and candy).  She means well, but she frightens them into submission, annoying a fair number of parents in the process.

Top-down, mandated menus for snacks and lunch are not the answer to the over-abundance of sugar in children’s diets or to promoting healthy eating.  The nanny state will only produce rebellious citizens, both adult and child.

Here’s what should happen:

  • Get kids to teach themselves (and their parents) good nutrition.  At the beginning of the year, a note should go home to parents from teachers saying that the kids and the school are working together to establish healthy eating habits.  The kids have learned in class how to build a balanced meal, they have a list of foods from each food group from which to choose, and they have a say in how to build the lunch.  They can grade their own lunches from poor to excellent, and the goal is to pack and eat excellent lunches in order to grow excellent learners.  Make age-appropriate lessons about the relative costs of fresh and processed food part of the curriculum.  Teach them why junk is so cheap and so plentiful.  It has to start with the kids, it has to be collaborative, and it has to have a pay-off.  It was kids who made our school’s litterless lunch policy.  I’m confident they could also lead the charge on ramping up the health value.  Who knows?  Parents may even be able to take one item off the to do list if the kids plan and pack their own lunches.  Let the kids tell their parents that the yogurt they think is healthy is actually full of sugar.  Trust them to make healthy choices and reward them with a gold star when they do.  Eventually, you won’t need the gold stars.

 

  • Add lots and lots and lots of extracurricular sports to the beginning of the school day.  Get kids to school an hour early to play soccer, run track, skip rope, dance, do yoga, run the bases or shoot hoops.  Give gym teachers the resources they need to offer those hours of exercise so that the kids can think better all day long.   Let them build up a real hunger and let them satisfy it with real food: an apple, say, and enough time at morning recess to eat it and play, too.  Study after study has shown that exercise makes for better thinking, but schools are cutting recess and gym times.  It defies logic.  When there’s no time to run around, sugar is not the only enemy.

 

  • Stop rushing kids through lunch.  My kids never finish their lunches and are often starving by the end of the day.  I don’t pack junk, but inevitably, it’s the “main course” that’s left in the lunch box at the end of the day because that’s what takes the longest to eat.  My kids will often get through the day on only the portions of fruit and veg that I pack because that’s what easiest to wolf down.  Hungry kids will make poor choices later in the day, but my kids don’t have time to eat even the healthy foods I pack because they are in such a rush to get outside to play.  They know that they feel better after having a really good run around the playground.  Honour that and give it to them without taking lunch time out of the play time allowance.

 

At Issue: Should Sugar Be Banned In Schools?

IMG_1436The war on sugar is full force. It seems impossible to turn on the news, stroll the supermarket or host a playdate without the topic of sugar rearing its head. In particular: kids’ consumption of sugar.

Recently a neighbourhood school has made a push to greatly reduce the amount of sugar permitted. Let’s face it, any time someone talks about banning, prohibiting, eliminating . . .people get feisty.

Efforts to reduce sugar in schools has been around for years, and in the case of a Georgia school, more than a decade. Proponents cite better overall health, fewer behavioural problems, and increased concentration to name just a few of the benefits. Principal of sugar-free pioneer school Browns Mill Elementary School said that within 6 months standardized test scores increased and behavioural incidents decreased. In time, students came to learn how to make good food choices and now broccoli is a favourite in the cafeteria. Advocates know that this is a huge undertaking – but they are playing the long game; quick to point out those efforts to reduce tobacco use in younger people has been successful over decades.

Nonetheless there are several opponents of the idea to limit sugar in schools, including researchers who report findings that suggest banning sugar in schools has little long term effect on a child’s overall sugar consumption and that changing attitudes in the home have a more lasting impact. In fact, Dr. John Sievenpiper says that negative messages like “don’t eat fat”, “don’t eat salt”, and “don’t eat sugar” may be doing more negative than good. He goes as far to blame the “don’t eat fat” message that was sweeping the nation in the 80s and 90s as one of the reasons for the current obesity epidemic. MaryAnn Tomovich, MS., RD agrees and believes that banning any specific food group creates a culture of fear and does nothing to ultimately educate our children. She, along with Dr. Michael Alderman, is a fan of the U diet: the basis being healthy, nutritious foods but allowing for some indulgences.

I am no health expert and my statistics grades will attest that a profession as a researcher is not in my future, but I do know parents. And I know how to quickly polarize a group of them.

So what do you think? Should schools ban all sugar? Are vending machines ok to get the heave-ho but school birthday cakes allowed? If a teacher gives out lollipops after a test or uses candies in a counting lesson, should they be reprimanded? Classroom parties: yay or nay in the presence of anything other than pretzels and veggie platters? What about fundraising? Fun Fairs? Bake sales? Is water the only acceptable beverage in the lunch bag?

Where is the line drawn and furthermore, who decides?

This week 4Mothers offers up our opinions and on Friday we’re joined by the dynamic duo Leigh and Meg of the blog Me and Meg.

As always we want to know that you think. What’s going on at your child’s school? Are you in favour of an all-out ban, gentle moderation or leaving it up to a parents to decide what is and isn’t too much sugar?

Join the conversation by leaving a comment on the blog, Facebook or Instagram.

For more reading:

(2014) Why Our Low-Fat, No-Sodium, Ban-Sugar Society May Be Making Us Fat

(2011) Banning Sugared Drinks in Schools Doesn’t Lower Student Consumption

(2011) Why Banning Foods In Schools Sends Kids the Wrong Message

(2008) 10 years later, school still sugar free and proud

 

 

Tried it: Barre3 By Guest Blogger Leigh from Me & Meg

Our guests this week are Leigh and Meg from the popular motherhood blog, Me and Meg. Leigh and Meg blog about ups and downs of motherhood with just the right amount of snark. They are witty, humble and kick-ass at Cross Fit. Think you’ve heard of them? I wouldn’t be surprised because they are contributors to Global Morning Show, Parentdish.ca and “What She Said” Canada Talks on SiriusXM Radio.

Thank you ladies for sharing your experience at Barre3.

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Meg and I have always loved exercising; that’s not to say that there hasn’t been times when we have totally lacked motivation or taken time off, we have. Our philosophy has always been simple: we were designed to move and we owe it to ourselves to do just that. It’s hard not get out of bed and workout when you think about what Rick Hansen and Terry Fox accomplished. Find someone who is doing a lot more with a lot less and suddenly your excuses melt away.

Meg and I both agree the key to keeping motivated is changing it up-and we don’t mean swapping the elliptical for the bike. We mean really shaking it up. We are both Crossfit and Olympic lifting coaches and that is something we consistently do. We love the variety of movements, and contrary to popular belief, it really is for everybody; our sixty year old mother does it!

We decided to start 2015 off by adding some new exercise disciplines into our repertoire. Enter Barre3. We are totally addicted. It’s like Yoga started dating a ballet dancer who also does Pilates. What do love most about it? First, the variety of workouts; by both the amount of time you have, and the part of the body you want to focus on. Meg and I love the Ballet Body Blast-who doesn’t want the long lines of a dancer? Second? You can do the workouts ANYWHERE. Between the mobile app and the on-line workouts you just can’t find an excuse not to do it.

imgresWe also appreciate the instructor’s pace and focus on integrity of movement, often times with at-home dvd’s there is not real instruction and you feel sort of lost, that’s not the case with the Barre3 on-line and mobile app workouts. If you live in the Toronto area, we recommend checking out the new Barre3 studio that opened. Aimee the owner, is a delight.

Our advice, cut some old t-shirts off, knot’em and rock some leg warmers. That’s what ballet dancers do right?

 

 

Life Lessons Learned on the Rock Wall

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My husband works at a big fitness club – there an indoor soccer field, indoor basketball courts, squash courts, three pools, lots and lots of fitness rooms and lots and lots of weights and machines to choose from.  There are spa facilities and a hair salon.  But my eyes were drawn from the beginning to the three story rock wall.

I don’t know why it’s taken me until now to give it a try.  Well, I guess I do…  Until recently, there’s been a baby attached to my hip or wrapped around my legs.  But probably more importantly, I’d never done it before and, unlike Beth-Anne who likes to try new things, I kind of resist them.  I’m not crazy about this tendency, so challenging myself to actually try that wall for none other than this blog became my mission over the holidays.

I went with my niece, an athletic 16 year old who had climbed before.  We had spent the entire day at the club, and she had played soccer for over two hours, and was then given a good workout on the squash court by my husband.  The day before she had spent skiing which, as a Californian, used her muscles in unusual ways.  This is all to explain that when she tried the rock wall of moderate difficulty, she got a fifth of the way up and had to let go.  Her legs were shaking; she simply could not go on.

My turn.  Unlike my niece, I had only gentle swum with my kids that day; however, also unlike her, I don’t have a teenage athletic body anymore.  We were climbing walls that did not require a lesson first, strapped in with a harness that gently bounces you to the ground if you slip.  Having never tried this before though, I discovered that I had trouble trusting the safety device would catch me if I fell.  Suddenly I feared heights where I hadn’t before.  With no advice before climbing, no experience, and ultimately, no confidence, I let go almost precisely at the spot my niece had and fell.

As it happens, the harness did work.

My attempt disappointed me.  It would have been quite alright to not get to the top (and when my husband tried, he fell at the same spot – it really was tricky) but my effort was not solid.

I gathered my wits.  Then, with the genuine encouragement of my niece and husband, I got in line for the beginner wall.

I think I was the only person above four and a half feet for this climb, but I ignored any prideful urgings and strapped myself in.  The climb was much easier than the other I tried, and I was comfortable enough to play around a bit with what movements worked.  I reached the top, and my husband boasted, with no hint of irony, that I sped by the nine year old to my left.

The question was whether to try something more.  There were two climbs at moderate difficulty.  I asked a boy there, who had obviously done these climbs many, many times (he looked like a little Spiderman scaling those walls), which of the two were harder.  He pointed to the one I hadn’t tried, and said he thought it might be slightly easier.

With no real aim except to make a better attempt, some minor success under my belt (ha), and more assurance in the harness, I tried again.  It was a much harder climb.  I think I was the most surprised of everyone when I actually made it to the top.

The accomplishment felt at least as much mental as physical and got me mulling, as I’m wont to do, about the broader significance of this singular experience.  I’ve since concluded that there are several useful life lessons to be learned from a rock wall.

1.  Confidence Matters.  

It’s not the only thing that matters, but my initial lack of confidence on the first climb was fatal to the effort.  If you don’t believe you can do something, you’re unlikely to manage it.

2.  The beginning is a good place to start.  

Sometimes I like to fancy myself a little more advanced than I am, a quick learner or something, who can maybe skip a step or two.  Occasionally this works, but oftentimes it doesn’t.  The beginner rock wall was not so physically challenging but I’m positive I would not have succeeded at the harder one had I not started at the beginning.  And experience can bolster belief to develop needed confidence (see above).

3.  There’s not much success without taking risks.  

At some points in the climb, I realized that I couldn’t find the next fingerhold or foothold not because I wasn’t looking properly, but because there wasn’t one.  The only way to continue at these junctures was to set my sights on my next best guess, and spring over to it and hope it would work. I had to let go without knowing what there was next to hold on to.   There was no going higher without taking the risk.

4.  Small things really matter.

I knew that rock climbing tests both agility and strength, but I didn’t realize the extent to success hinges on the smallest things.  Like little protrusions from the wall that your foot can’t really stand on, but that might help your other foot or your hands hang on just a little longer.  Or like fingertips, or the tips of fingertips – these really matter. When I got back onto solid ground after the moderate climb, I couldn’t move my fingers or wrists – they were both burning and throbbing.  My thighs and feet and back must have played a part, but I think my fingertips were the star of the show.

5.  Fear must be dealt with or it will be a block.

To climb that wall, I had to get over my fear of falling.  Probably by falling.  And getting back up again.

6.  Everything that gets done gets done one step at a time.

Many times on that moderate climb where I made it to the top, I didn’t think I would.  I’d look up and the way looked awfully long.  At those times I lowered my head to look at where I was and paused. I brushed aside the temptation to give up and instead agreed with myself to just look for the next step.  When tired, I thought of just the next step.  Stacking enough of next steps together got me somewhere.

I knew starting out that many rock climbers are diehards about their sport.  I think, in some tiny way, I may understand why.  It’s about a lot more than fitness and really challenges the mental strength of the climber, and this can only be that much more true when climbing an actual rock face.  At it’s core, I think rock climbing is about overcoming obstacles that you once wouldn’t have thought possible.  No wonder it’s got such a stronghold on its followers.

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Tried it: Paddle Board Fitness

I don’t really love the actual act of exercising. I don’t loathe it but it’s also not something that tops my list. I would rather read a good book, play with the boys, eat cookie dough . . . things I consider nourishment for my soul. But if I am to be honest, I do love the feeling that I have post-exercise. There is something to be said for the endorphin rush, in fact, a therapist told me that exercise is one of the best ways to fight the blahs.

But my interest wanes. I like to keep things fresh by trying out new classes. I have sampled my fair share and some, like Barre, hold a position in the rotation and others like the Tracy Anderson Method are collecting dust. (An aside: What beginner can actually keep up with her dancing?)

When I learned that Paddle Fitness was being added to the line-up of offerings at my club, I was keen to try. Many boxes were ticked: I like water, I like the warm sea air, I like relaxation, finding my inner calm . . .this sounded perfect for me. Forgetting for a minute that:

A) I am actually petrified of becoming shark bait whilst paddling in the Caribbean.

B) I would actually be paddling to nowhere within the confines of 4 walls blinded by the overhead fluorescent lighting.

I handed over my money.

I arrived at the class to find 6 other women, all of us clad in our finest stretchy pants and racer-backed tanks.

We prepped the boards by adding stabilizers at the front and back ends. There are three different levels of stability, this being moderately challenging. One stabilizer in the middle of the board provides the least support, better mimicking open-water paddling. Our instructor, a woman in her 40s with the body of a 20-year-old athlete, took her position facing us.

I mounted the board with ease and together we worked through a series of stretches. The mood was calm and almost relaxing thanks to a spotty WiFi connection disabling the thumping playlist. (Another aside: remember when instructors brought ghetto blasters? Mrs. Healy’s used to blare techno beats while my high school friends and I stepped up, down and to the side for an hour in her basement studio.)

Yes, I thought, this is exactly what I need. I need to zone out and imagine myself floating in the warm sea, with the sun beating down on me, defrosting my frozen fingers courtesy of the -27 degree weather outside.

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This is what I think I look like.    (Image: Self Magazine)

 

What happened next, I am not too sure. It was an assault on my body. Burpees, mountain climbers, squats, push-ups, jumping up and over the board, squats, push-ups, plank, leg raises, squats, side-plank with one leg raised, push-ups, squats, squats, SQUATS!

ALL ON AN UNSTABLE BOARD.

With 8 minutes of the class remaining, the instructor sat in the middle of the board, with her knees bent and feet flat.

Oh, thank God! We’re almost done. Just a few stretches to go. Deep breath. Easy now, you sound like a congested pug.

And then she raised her feet into table-top and proceeded with the abdominal portion of the class. Five grueling minutes of V-sits, starfish-to-crabs (think full body extension, then pulling yourself up into a tuck), triceps dips with opposite leg to elbow crunches (I know, impossible right?).

ALL ON AN UNSTABLE BOARD.

This is what I actually look like.  (Image: 1000calorieaccelator.com)

This is what I actually look like.   (Image: 1000calorieaccelator.com)

Paddle Fitness is an all-encompassing work out. It works the core, challenges balance and stability, improves flexibility while being both a cardio and strength training exercise.

Wrists, shoulders and knees definitely have their moment in the spotlight, so if you have any injury or weakness with these joints be sure to let your instructor know so the program can be modified.

The verdict? Less than 24-hours later, I couldn’t put my bra on without wincing and my quads burned when I walked up the stairs, but I have been back. What can I say? I am hooked on that feelin’!

Fitbit Fever

fitbitI love, love, love my Fitbit.

What does my Fitbit do?  Well, I wear it on my wrist and it counts my steps (minimum 15,000 a day).  But that’s not all it does.  It gets me out and active every day.  It takes me on super-long walks several times a week (10-15k).  During those walks, I listen to podcasts of everything from NPR’s Serial (addictive!!) to The Guardian’s books podcast to A History of the World in 100 Objects from the BBC to Quirks and Quarks form the CBC.  So, my fitbit keeps me up to date and learning about books, history, science and culture.  It takes me on new routes to keep things fresh, so I’m discovering new areas of the city.  My walks have spurred a love of making photographs, and I aim to get one good shot from each good walk.  (I post them to our Instagram account or you can see the current one from the sidebar of the blog’s website.)  My Fitbit makes me stretch, because after walking 10k, you just have to stretch.  It has helped me lose 15 lbs since the end of the summer.  Not a rapid rate of weight loss, but steady and, oh so importantly, enjoyable.  There is no overcoming resistance to go out for long walks, not even in winter weather.  It has taught me that I need extrinsic motivation to succeed, and being accountable for my daily 15,000 steps has been a fun and inspiring goal.  I just love, love, love my Fitbit.

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My Fitbit was a gift from my husband from way back last spring (Mother’s Day).  I was so excited to get it because I’d been grilling a friend about hers and how it has helped her get strong and fit.  Ted heard how animated I was and surprised me with one.  Then, sadly, I let it sit in its box because I could not find the energy to figure out how to hook it up to the computer.  Oh, what wasted months!  When I finally set it up in September (my new year), it took all of 30 seconds.  Seriously.  So if you are a technophobe, fear no more.  It really could not be simpler.

The Fitbit bracelet counts steps, but the dashboard to which it connects on on your phone and/or computer can also help you track what you eat and how much you sleep.  (My fitbit thinks I sleep a lot more than I do because I read in bed for a few hours most nights.  My Fitbit probably thinks I’m a very big cat, actually.)  I have found tracking what I eat to be really helpful, mostly because it makes me realize that snacks and after-dinner nibbles really do add up.  Again, it drives home how much I rely on extrinsic motivation to succeed.  Seeing a list out there and up on my computer screen of what I put into my body helps me pay closer attention to that body.  Some people are good at just listening to their bodies; I’m not one of them.

If you are media social, your Fitbit can talk to Facebook and to friends.  My Fitbit and I keep to ourselves, pretty much, and that’s how I like it.

I think that’s the magic of this thing: it’s customizable and personal.  When we sat down in September to plan our themes for the upcoming months, we each decided to try a new fitness class or activity.  I hemmed and hawed about trying lots of new-to-me things, but I really could not get excited about any of them.  Walking fits for me; it’s what I love, and I am so grateful to have such a simple and effective tool to remind me to do what I love each and every day.

Buy a Fitbit from Indigo here.

 

Fitness Trends: The Tried, The Tested and The True

Working out isn’t everyone’s favourite thing to do but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that while maybe the actual “work out” isn’t the highlight of their day, the endorphins and overall good feeling that come post sweat, definitely usurps the drudgery of the actual work.

Nathalie, Carol and I are a bit of an eclectic trio and the fitness trends that we’ve chosen to test out depict that quite accurately. Nathalie is an avid walker (and she takes the MOST STUNNING photos on her daily walks around the city – you can view them by clicking here), Carol is a yogi at heart and I like to switch it up every few months.

However, this week Nathalie tracks her progress with FitBit, Carol tests her agility by rock climbing and I take on paddle board fitness. You’re definitely going to want to follow along this week, if for nothing else, the sheer entertainment!

Our guests this week are Leigh and Meg from the popular motherhood blog, Me and Meg. Leigh and Meg blog about ups and downs of motherhood with just the right amount of snark. They are witty, humble and kick-ass at Cross Fit. This Friday we find out how they did when they traded their barbells for a barre.

Don’t forget to join in the conversation by leaving us a comment on the blog or Instagram. At the very least, send us some encouragement!

Best of the Blogosphere January 2015

Baby, it’s cold out there! What better way to kill a few hours than cuddled up near the fire with the Internet? (Actually, there are many other better ways, but then that wouldn’t make for a good intro to this post.)

Here’s what has caught our attention on the blogosphere.

Nathalie

Roseanne at The Lunchbox Season also wrote a word of the year post.  Check it out.  Defining Motherhood did an interesting take and chose three words.  She has me thinking about “year”.  And Carrie, our inspiration for our week of posts on our words of the year, has chosen her word for 2015.

Children+s Fashion 1961: Toddler wearing and all-in-one playsuit and red shoes, holds a ball in both hands, while being followed by a small toy cow.OK, this is hilarious.  You’ve seen the 40 Under 40 lists, right?  Here’s the 3 Under 3 list!  Overachieving parents, listen to yourselves!!

Every year, we collect the funny things our kids say and send it out as our holiday letter.  This dad takes it one step beyond, into seriously awesome territory, by illustrating his daughter’s humorous quotations.  Check out Spaghetti Toes for some great laughs.  You can also shop his Etsy shop if you want a print of your very own.

Pour yourself a cup of coffee, tea, or your special drink of choice and settle in for a great new year’s read with this blog post from Girl’s Gone Child.  It’s a lovely piece on travel, choices and taking the chance to let chance spin its magic. Thanks to Kerry Clare on twitter @kcpicklemethis for pointing me in her direction.

Also, thanks to Kerry, who should maybe add internet curator to her list of talents, I disappeared down the rabbit hole of all the great posts on The Ugly Volvo, having gotten there because of a post on all the things wrong with Goodnight Moon.  Hilarious.  So is the Knuffle Bunny post.  (I can’t link to it for some reason.  I hope you can link to it from her home page.  It’s really, really good stuff.)  She also gives really good advice written on bananas.

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Beth-Anne

Have you ever forced your kids to say “I’m sorry” and the result is a pitiful, insincere mumble?  Here’s how to teach kids the right way to apologize.  I’m loving this and have already started doing it (to the chagrin of my boys) with success.

One of the questions I am most asked by friends with 2 children is, should I go for the third?  That’s like asking me, should I tattoo my forehead?  It’s a life long commitment and it ain’t for me to say.  But I will say this . . . remember before you had your first baby and you thought that you knew everything and that life would go along swimmingly except now you’d have a baby Bjorn-ed to your body?  And then that baby came and upended your life to the point when going to the washroom alone was a massive accomplishment?  A third baby is kinda like that but times 100.  Here’s what Shannon Meyerhort from Scary Mommy has to say on the topic, and I think she nailed it.

Hear ye!  Hear ye!  A new parenting study has been released and you must read about it!

And for all of us not on a diet this month, don’t these coconut chocolate tartlets from lark & linen look sinful and oh-so-perfect while sitting on the couch, in front of the fire, surfing the Internet?

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Getting on the Mat

premium-eco-yoga-mat-rolled-cropped

Along with basically everybody else, I have entered 2015 with a new resolve to take better care of myself.  2014 was a low point in this respect – I ate and slept badly, had regular stomachaches, exercised hardly at all (not even walking anywhere), and my back went out a couple of months ago when I was unable to walk for days, and has been sore almost everyday since.

I actually am so grateful to my body for this – it doesn’t suffer the stress I put on it in silence. It will complain, and if I ignore it some more, it revolts.

Change is needed, and I am trying.  Yoga helps my back significantly, and I love it.  It’s like a meditation for both the body and the mind, and unifies them.

I am, however, still in my life, so a daily yoga practice, though lovely-sounding, is looking kind of lofty.  So is any practice that is 90 minutes long outside the home (which was how I used to practice in a previous lifetime).  I’ve tried to schedule it in, but this doesn’t usually work for long.

So what’s a mother of three with an overflowing life to do?  I’m getting on the mat, whenever I can.

My resolve this year is to roll out my yoga mat whenever I think of it and it’s even kind of feasible.  I’m not looking for the hour-long window anymore, I’m just looking for a door that’s open a crack.  This means that I will do yoga with my children (not so meditative but still with benefits) and that I will do it even though I know the chances of finishing are low.

I do this because even if it’s short I can still stretch and breathe, and maybe I won’t be interrupted as soon as I thought.  Just getting on the mat, even when I don’t know how long it’s going to last, means practices that sometimes finish, but more often don’t – they end up being 22 minutes, or 12 minutes, or 33 minutes long.  They are compromised, yes, but at least they are happening.

It’s not perfect or even great, but it’s something, which is infinitely better than nothing.  Also there’s something to be said for even a modest momentum.  I’ve done yoga quite a few times in 2015, and noticed that I went swimming over the holidays, walked the hour home from work in the winter storm, signed up for a group yoga practice next month.

Those minutes add up not just to hours, but to a life that’s closer to what I want and need.  It helps my back; it just helps.  And it’s not bad for just getting on the mat.

image credit

Did You Resolve to Have More Sex? Sex Tips and Facts from Carol Anne Austin, Sex Therapist.

logoBefore the holidays, I had a chance to attend  What Mama Didn’t Tell Us, a panel presentation hosted by The Purple Fig It was a fabulously fun night of presentations and Q&A sessions about sex and pelvic health, featuring, among others, Carol Anne Austin, a sex expert and therapist at KMA Therapy.  She was a wonderfully funny and engaging speaker, and I felt that she really got the crowd: mothers, rookie and veteran, who were keen to get her tips on how to keep the spark alive with their partners.  Here is a distilled list of her best tips and facts.

1.  The research is really clear: sexual satisfaction is highly correlated to effective communication.  Talk about what’s working and what isn’t.

2.  The most common problem she sees in her clients is a drop in libido as people age or are in long-term relationships.

3.  The lower desire partner is much more likely to rush foreplay and initiate intercourse faster.   There’s a “get it over with” attitude.

4.  There is a circle of low desire: my partner wants to have sex; I don’t but I feel like I should; I’m not aroused before or during sex; I’m not that satisfied by the sex; I have a memory of having sex for someone else and not for me; sex becomes about someone else’s needs and satisfaction; I’m less likely to initiate or to feel like having sex again soon.

5.  To break that cycle, you need to find a way to bring something for you back into the sex.   Ask yourself what was going on when the sex was good?  Do that.

6.  There is no normal when it comes to the frequency of sex.  Frequency is a totally unreliable indicator of sexual satisfaction. Much more important is to emphasize quality over quantity.

7.  If you make time for yourself, you will have the energy for your partner.  Schedule time for yourself.

8.  Schedule time for your relationship.  Put it on the calendar!

9.  Shake up the script of sex before bed and sleep.  Find a time of day when you have more energy.

10.  A healthy active sexual relationship with yourself correlates directly to a healthy active sexual relationship with your partner.  (A woman asked, “What if I get addicted to my vibrator?”  Answer: she has never heard of that happening.  Using a vibrator is far more likely to improve your sex with your partner than to become an addiction.)

11.  Menopause is a challenging time for your sexual relationship.  To stay engaged in sex during a hot flash, switch up the order of kiss, foreplay, penetration and orgasm.  If it’s not a one way street then you can take a break.

12.  During menopause, intercourse can become painful because the change in hormones causes a drop in natural vaginal lubrication.  Use a lube.  BUT be careful and keep an eye out for glycerine in the list of ingredients.  Glycerine is a sugar and can affect the growth of yeast and cause a yeast infection.