We, as Moms, take our children to the doctors at the drop of a hat. We don’t analyze or make excuses – we load them in the car and hit the road.

Well, what about us? Do we take care of our body like we do for our family? I don’t know about you, but I can scream the word “NO” at the top of my lungs.

Why is that I wonder? There is one doctor that I totally despise going to. And that would be the dreaded gynecologist for me. The only time I quite enjoyed the visit there was when I was pregnant. The thought of carrying a wonderful living, breathing gift was so monumental.

But to just go there for your yearly visit was worse than pulling teeth for me. I thought maybe I was the freak who didn’t like this doctor, but then I asked a couple of friends and I hysterically laughed.

Everything I was thinking, they had the same thoughts. I mean who despises someone who brings life into the world? What kind of idiot is that? What woman is afraid of their vagina?? From what I learned – there are a lot of us out there! LOL.

Here are some reasons why Moms hate the Gyno visit:

1. Those stupid robes – can they give us some satin robes to put on. I mean a woman’s body is a wonderland. Hard fabric on our va-jay-jay is just not right.

2. “Slide on down and put your feet in the stirrups.” – those are the words that send me into a spiral. First off, it is cold as hell laying on that table and there you are trying to get your self situated. And don’t get me started about the stirrups. Couldn’t they add heat to them somehow.

3. Oh, then the worse starts. The doctor begins to talk. WTH! Questions like “What’s new, How was your weekend, Any good dinner recipes lately, Looks like you gained a little weight?” Why??? Why can’t they just get on with it and get me the hell out of there!!

4. Then, while their head is down in the area and you are so exposed – it is like they can see into your soul – they begin to tell you how you should take better care of yourself. A woman’s health is very important. Okay, I get it. But one question I would love to ask – “Hey Doc, while your head is in my crotch, what do you see that makes you say that statement? Is my vagina not good enough?”

I guess it is like that for men, when they feel the need to measure their penis.  LOL. So ladies, even if you hate “THE GYNO” like me, you do have to go!!  Just make sure your vagina looks fabulous and you will do great!!!

Words via Kathy Chlan. For more posts from , check out Unfiltered Mom.

GOOD NIGHT!

A good night’s sleep can make all the difference. Rest prepares our mind and bodies with the ability to handle whatever life has to throw at us. As parents, it’s even more important to be well rested. When I get a night full of good rest I am more capable of dealing with the craziness of my very busy life. My oldest wants to test me with staying up too late and being a total grouch the next day? Handled. My youngest wants to paint the walls with purple paint? I got this. My middle kids want to have a pillow fight and scream, cry and yell (and scream, and scream, and scream)? On my way.

I recently had the opportunity to talk all about healthy sleep patterns with doctor Susie Yim from Kaiser Permanente Orange County. It was a fascinating conversation about my most favorite activity: sleeping.

Although not too much is known about why humans as a species sleep, we do know that there are many benefits of sleep – in addition to being important for survival. I am a Kaiser Permanente Orange County mom ambassador, all opinions are my own.

BENEFITS OF GOOD SLEEP:

Good Sleep can enhance our memory and problem-solving skills.
Improve our brain function with memory and driving tasks.
Helps us to stay motivated, alert, and engaged.
Mood booster and can even prevent feelings of depression.
Help maintain a healthy weight.
Sleep helps your immune system stay strong.
While you’re asleep, your body repairs important cells and tissues.
Rejuvenation!

A GOOD NIGHTS REST…CAN BE HARD TO COME BY

It’s safe to say that no aspect of our biology is left unscathed by sleep deprivation. Poor sleep can have a serious effect on our health and wellness. Did you know that up to 1 in 3 Americans have difficulty falling and staying asleep? Below is a list of tips to maintain a healthy sleep pattern.

HOW TO MAINTAIN A HEALTHY SLEEP PATTERN

 

Limit Screen Time
The blue light on our phones and tablets can interfere with our brain’s ability to recognize night-time. Doctor Yim suggests that we avoid our phones for 30-40 minutes before bed.

Create a Dedicated Bed Time
Help your bodies natural circadian rhythm by creating a set bedtime.

Keep It Cool & Dark
Keep a cool and dark room free of distractions for the best nights rest. Doctor Yim is an advocate for a distraction free bedroom for the best nights rest.

No Caffeine
Avoid or limit caffeine and nicotine, especially in the hours before bedtime. Both can keep you awake.

Avoid Alcohol
Avoid alcohol before bed, alcohol can cause you to wake up more often during the night.

Exercise your way to sleep
Regularly exercise.

Chill Out
If you cannot fall asleep within 15 to 30 minutes of going to bed, do something relaxing until you feel tired. Read a book, listen to music or guided imagery, or take a nice, warm bath.

Doctor Yim of Kaiser Permanente Orange County is an advocate for healthy sleep patterns in all of us. She persists that stress free evenings and rooms with no distractions are the best remedies for the best night of rest as possible. If you are not receiving 8 hours of rest every night and you’re not sure why, check out this online Sleep Diary recommended by Doctor Yim.

HEALTHY SLEEP PATTERNS FOR PARENTS OF YOUNG CHILDREN…IS IT POSSIBLE?

One of my most important questions for Doctor Yim during our conversation about healthy sleep patterns was: how do parents of newborns maintain a healthy sleep pattern? When each of my children were born, it felt as though I would never sleep again. The days and nights blurred into each other and I was a complete wreck for what felt like eternity (but was probably closer to 3 months). So…how do parents of newborns and young children maintain a healthy sleep pattern? Doctor Yim laughed a little at my question, because she knows (just like all moms do), sleep is hard to come by with little ones at home. However, Doctor Yim had several useful tips for parents. Such as: TAKE TURNS sleeping! And HAVE A SLEEP PLAN! My husband and I planned that I would catch up on sleep over the weekends. That plan was a lifesaver for me. Best advice of all from Doctor Yim was that parents should understand that everyone (especially mom) needs a break.

Words and photos via Desiree Eaglin of  The Funny Mom Blog

Nothing hits a girl’s self-esteem harder than middle school and high school. Suddenly, you go from the happy-go-lucky girl playing outside, getting bruises, and generally not worrying about how you look to a girl who obsesses about her appearance and compares herself to other girls. The switch happens lightning-fast…at least it did for me.

My concerns about my body image began in high school. Puberty had kicked in and my high metabolism disappeared a day later. Instead of being able to eat anything without gaining a pound, I would gain weight just by looking at a cookie. The weight gain came, and it was unexpected.

By the end of my freshman year, I was convinced I was fat. Looking back, I probably was about 15-20 pounds overweight, but not fat. (It didn’t help that I got on a scale once and a well-meaning uncle expressed shock at my number and told me I should probably lose a few pounds.)

I found myself looking at other girls and comparing my body to their lithe, thin figures. My figure was nothing like that. I first sprouted boobs at the age of 10. By the time high school began, I was already wearing a C-cup. Just my boobs alone made me feel self-conscious. I wore large tops to hide them.

Unlike many girls in my class, I had wide hips and thighs. I walked a lot and rode my bike everywhere. My thighs weren’t fat, just muscular. I didn’t consider that as a reason though. It must be fat. After all, my 9th grade gym teacher told my class that if our thighs touched then we needed to lose weight since it was an indication we were fat. (The recent craze about thigh gap irritates me because of this reason alone. It’s a bunch of crap!)

I was on the Junior Varsity cheerleading squad when I was a sophomore in high school. When ordering uniforms, a fellow cheerleader let me know that another “bigger” cheerleader from the year before might be willing to sell me her uniform. She made it clear she thought I was big and emphasized all the ways she recently lost some weight. It only confirmed what I knew to be true: I was fat.

I became obsessed with being thinner. I ate less and less. I was obsessed with the numbers on a scale; numbers that never seemed to get as small as I wanted them to be.

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By my senior year, I was borderline anorexic. I say borderline because I never gave up eating, completely or allowed my weight to take over my life. However, that said, I knew I could go up to 24 hours without eating anything without issue. Once I got to 36 hours, I would have a spontaneous bloody nose. So, I would make sure I ate something at least that often.

Breakfast was a slice of plain bread. My usual lunch was either a small fry with cheese or a packet of Cheez-its. Dinner was whatever my parents served, but nothing beyond one small serving. Oh, and forget snacking. I avoided it like crazy.

What killed me with my obsession was that I couldn’t lose more weight. The smallest I got, with my 5’8” frame, was 145 pounds with a 27” waist. And guess what, I still thought I was fat. It didn’t help when my grandmother emphasized that she thought I shouldn’t put butter on something because it would add to my weight. It only confirmed what I knew. I was huge.

I wish I knew then that I wasn’t fat. I wish I knew then that I was thin. I wish I appreciated how great I looked and knew that what I was doing to my body wasn’t helping me. Not one bit. I couldn’t lose weight because I wasn’t feeding my body properly. I couldn’t lose weight because I was probably at my perfect weight at the age of 17.

I wish I had known that my body had just developed curves earlier than others in my class. That instead of shopping in the junior’s section at the department store, I should have avoided it. I didn’t know that those clothes were cut to fit a slimmer, less developed body. I let the size I was (an 11/13) become justification in my need to lose weight; to get slimmer. If I had gone to the misses section, I might have discovered I would fit in a size 8 and been satisfied. But, I wasn’t. I couldn’t be. I was ashamed of myself and my body. In my mind, a size 11/13 only confirmed that I was fat.

It wasn’t until college that I began to appreciate my body and my weight in a new way. My new college friends didn’t judge me or my weight. Like others, I gained the freshman 15, and by my junior year I had gained 30 pounds. I decided to do something about my weight then. Not because I was obsessed with the number, but because I wanted to feel good about myself. Instead of starving myself, like I tried to do in high school, I just ate healthier (less late night pizza runs) and started power walking. I ended up losing 20 pounds, settling in at a healthy, fit 155 pounds.

I also had a conversation with my mom about my grandmother’s comment about butter. My mom laughed and told me that she made comments like that to her when she was younger and had a 23 inch waist. It was just my grandmother’s own issues with weight and body image.

Today, I’m far from that slim, weight-obsessed high school girl, and my body is definitely not a healthy and fit 155 pounds. I am now a plus-size woman and though I’m not happy with my weight, I love myself and the body that has given birth to two marvelous little girls and allowed me to go on many adventures in my life. I work to get in shape, not really to lose weight, although that would be pretty great. (After all, all the cute clothes are in the smaller sizes.)

If I had only known as a teenager that obsessing about what my body looked like was not nearly as important as loving myself for who I was. I can only imagine how much happier I would have been in high school. I know that now and I’m grateful. Now, as a mom to two precious little girls, I hope I can pass on the lessons I learned on my way to loving myself and my body.

Denise is a 40+ year old KU alum and SAHM trying to navigate the world of motherhood. She blogs about parenting, food, and has been featured a few times on BlogHer and has an upcoming feature on Scary Mommy. She enjoys solving mysteries (Okay..reading mysteries or watching them on TV), cooking, and drinking way more caffeine than she should…basically, doing anything she needs to do to survive the toddler years.  Follow her on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest.

This post was originally featured on Jill Robbins’ blog, Ripped Jeans and Bifocals. Photo via

Total Relaxation –  something we all long for, like a fully paid vacation on a tropical island, eight hours of sleep a night, or even just 10 minutes of alone time on some days.  As much as I’d love world peace, I find myself selfishly longing for a day without doing dishes much more frequently. Alas, since most of us aren’t able to escape to the spa on a daily basis (or permanently eliminate the things that cause us the most stress), here are some simple ways you can have moments of relaxation and reduced stress throughout your day.  Spoiler alert… eating chocolate is one of them!


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1. Eat Breakfast Before Coffee
Caffeine on an empty stomach can increase blood sugar levels, which can lead to irritability.  No wonder we are stressed almost from the moment we wake up.  Also, as many nutrition experts will tell you, it is important to eat something within 30 minutes of waking up to kick-start your metabolism for the day. If you don’t have time for a full breakfast, something small is OK, but keep it healthy, like a hard boiled egg or 1/2 a grapefruit.  Reducing your blood sugar will keep you more calm throughout the day. Check out other quick and healthy options here. (Source)


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2. Tea Time
This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone by now, but green tea is one of the most healthy beverages on the planet.  It’s loaded with antioxidants that can help reduce the risk of cancer, has numerous heart health benefits that can reduce the risk of high blood pressure, and lowers your blood sugar level to keep you calm, among many others.  Take 5 minutes to kick your feet up and enjoy a cup of tea every afternoon!   Make sure you are super comfy from head to toe. I highly recommend keeping your feet cozy with a pair of Gold Toe Oh So Soft socks.  Unlike traditional spa socks, these are thinner so your feet can actually breath without sacrificing softness and comfort.  Love the fun colors, and I love that they are made with a little spandex so they fit my feet perfectly.  Since I work full time, my tea ritual is usually in the mornings or at night right after my shower. (Source)


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3. Take a Long Bath
This one might not be as feasible on a daily basis, but ALL moms need to dedicate at least one day a week to a long, hot bath.  I fill my tub with tons of bubbles and lavender-scented bath oil.  The scent of lavender is known to reduce your heart rate for increased relaxation (more on scents below).  I light a candle, turn off the lights, put on my favorite calming music, and zen out as long as possible. After the bath, of course, I put my Oh So Soft socks on and enjoy a cup of green tea. (Source)


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4. Take Time to Smell the Roses
It might be cliche, but there’s a very real reason this expression exists – aside from the obvious message of stopping the hustle and bustle of your daily activities to enjoy the small things in life (which, of course, is very important). There are many known scents that have been proven to help people relax: lavender (my all-time favorite), jasmine (my other all-time favorite), mandarin, vanilla, chamomile, bergamot, sandalwood, rose, lilac, and ylang-ylang. I try to keep a lavender candle lit whenever I’m home, and I spray jasmine on my pillow case at night. I even have lavender-scented dish soap so I stay a little more calm while doing dishes every day. An easy way to keep a scent with you all day is to spray a little bit of your favorite fragrance on a cloth and put it in your purse. If you start to feel stressed, pull it out and take a little sniff to calm down. Or, next time you eat an orange, keep a few of the orange peels in your car or in a bowl at home so you can be surrounded by the scent all day. (Source)


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5. Eat Chocolate
Yes, you read that correctly my friends.  Studies show that dark chocolate (in moderation) can lower your blood pressure and lower the risk of diabetes, stroke, and heart attack…. not to mention the shear joy of indulging in chocolate guilt-free!  Remember, everything in moderation, so go ahead and have a couple squares of your favorite dark chocolate during tea time.  You’re welcome! (Source)


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6. Exercise
Now that you’ve enjoyed your chocolate… exercise might seem counter-intuitive to the notion of ‘relaxation’, but it’s not.  Exercising even a moderate amount daily actually helps maintain your metabolism and reduce spikes in your blood sugar.  My favorite form of exercise is dancing.  For me, there’s nothing better than putting on my favorite music and busting a move.  While I take regular dance classes at a studio, I will often take a few minutes to dance to a great song if I’m feeling particularly stressed.  Even when I’m at work, I can put my headphones on and take a brisk walk around the block to calm my nerves. (Source)

 

My body is not perfect by any means. My fingernails are uneven and haven’t had a good manicure in a LONG time. My toenails need trimmed. I currently need a shower. My graying hair needs to be redyed sometime soon–the three grown out inches do not blend well with the rest of my chestnut brown hair. It also needs a trim. When I fail to put mousse into my curly hair, it’s the frizziest mess you’ll ever see. My thighs touch (gasp!). My belly is the furthest thing from flat. My arms could give someone a black eye when I wave at people. I have no eyebrows or eyelashes unless I draw them on. I rarely wear make up. I’ve got a black chin hair that grows back more rapidly the older I get. I’ve got wrinkles around my eyes. I’ve got stretch marks and dry skin on my body. I’ve got a double chin in pictures.

READ MORE: Seriously… The Thigh Gap?!?

And yet I am more beautiful than I’ve ever been.

My finger nails are uneven because I was so busy coloring with my kids that I forgot I only filed one hand. I failed to trim my own toenails because my daughter wanted her toes painted “just like mommy’s pretty toes.” I didn’t shower this morning because I wanted the fifteen extra minutes of sleep after being up until 1:15 a.m. (no I wasn’t up with a child, I chose to binge watch “Once Upon A Time.” Don’t judge).

I haven’t made time for a hair appointment because I’ve been having too much fun living life: an extra busy Christmas season spending time with those closest to us, I published a book, I went on a trip, I’ve taken my kids to the science center, we baked cookies, I took my kids sledding, I grew my business, I made new friends, I held new babies, I had date nights with my husband.

READ MORE: I Feel Fat

I often don’t put mousse in my hair so my kids can easily play with it. They love seeing how big it can get and I love that something that simple can make them laugh.

I carry the extra weight that comes with having three kids in under four years and not being able to afford a personal trainer and too busy to make time for a 5 a.m. class at the gym. Yet, I hike for miles on a whim with my kids. I haven’t worked out my arms in years because, well, I really hate arm exercises. And I’m okay with that because I’m finally aware of all that I truly dislike, what I can stand, and what I love to do.

READ MORE: I Have Never Felt Beautiful

I hardly notice my lack of eyebrows or eyelashes. I’m just thankful to have not had any other medical issues. It’s amazing how little focus others put on your flaws when you yourself no longer notice them.

I can be beautiful without the make up. It’s fun to done a full face of make up, a cute outfit, but that’s not my day to day attire. I feel just as beautiful and more myself in my yoga pants (which has a growing hole in the thighs from them rubbing together) and an oversize sweat shirt than I do in my new Banana Republic number that I spent too much money on.

The chin hair I could do without, but if anything, it shows my age. An age that I am at ease with. I don’t dread becoming older because I can look back on my years and know I’ve lived them with no regrets.

READ MORE: What I Wish I’d Known About Body Image

My wrinkles are from smiling because I’m happy, laughing, and smiling my way through life. This is something my grandma once told me as I danced on her feet around her kitchen and something I’ve never forgotten. It’s something I tell my children to remind them to smile through everything.

My stretch marks and scars tell the story of my last 7 years. The story of my children’s births, of my love of dark chocolate, of my surgeries. They show the maturity that I’ve come to find in my journey through motherhood.

READ MORE: Change The Way You Look At Pregnancy

How does any of this accumulate to being beautiful? Because beauty isn’t how you look, how much makeup you cake on to cover the flaws, and it’s most definitely not restricted to a size. Beauty is embracing who you are. It’s living your life the way you want to live it. It’s embracing your flaws and owning them. It’s confidence in yourself and willingness to try the things that you’re unsure about.

READ MORE: Breast Reduction Surgery: The Real Deal

I may not be the 5’11 size 6 twenty one year old I once was, but now I’ve got something I didn’t have then: I’ve got the belief that I have the power to do anything I want. I have the power to laugh at myself: at the finger nails being different lengths, my hair being extra frizzy, my stretch mark shaped like an S for our last name (according to our kids), my chin hair that I forgot to pluck away before I left the house, I’ve got the confidence to simply be me.

Once you learn to love all of yourself and be yourself, true beauty will shine.

Photo via Jade Beall’s A Beautiful Body Project

It’s raining here and I’m not sure about you, but thanks to an over all busy weekend, I’ve been eyeing my bed all day. Now that I’m snuggled up in it watching The Good Wife (OMG can we talk about Jeffrey Dean Morgan on the cast this year?!), I’m remembering the days that it was so much easier to blow off work and life in general… way back before we had kids or had other responsibilities like mortgages and car payments.

So does calling out to your boss (even if they are 5) seem like a good way to start your week but you can’t come up with a solid reason? Choose one of these… shoot…bookmark it and the next time you need a mental health day, come back and pick another! Just don’t hate on me if you jinx yourself…

1. Holiday Candy Hangover

Not that kind of hangover. Unless you really did party like you were 22 and are still recovering because while you can party like you’re 22, you sure as hell can’t recover like you are.

2. Anything Gastro Related

No one wants to think about another person’s belly or butt issues. And they surely don’t want to risk getting whatever it is that you have.

3. Oral Objection

So you snuck into your kid’s candy stash and now you just chipped a tooth on that hard piece of candy. Way to be discreet, Mom. If you don’t want to go that far and have to explain why your teeth look the same as they did on Friday, an abscessed tooth should do it.

4. Plumbing Issues

Kids will flush anything down the toilet… so will teens. And who hasn’t been there with a mop, a bucket, and a shop-vac?

5. Migraines or Sinus Issues

Thank the Lord the only time I had migraines it was when I was pregnant with Sydney but it was enough to make me wish for them to never return. I’m sure your boss will agree.

6. Flu Shot Reaction

It’s the time of the year when we’re all getting flu shots and it’s not uncommon to have an adverse reaction to it.

7. Blame the Kids

Hey.. you have them, use them. I mean, what kid isn’t a walking petri dish this time of the year?

The one thing that I learned early on in my days of working is that if you’re going to call in sick, it’s always much more effective if you do it from your bed, under the covers. Works like a charm every time.

This post was originally featured on Kristen Daukas’ blog, 4 Hens & a Rooster. Featured image via.

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