Posts Tagged ‘ new year’s resolutions ’

Christine Schmidt of Yellow Owl Workshop Talks “Mommy Brain” and Her Clever Art Project

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

While there are countless perks that come with being a new mother, it’s no secret that forgetfulness, absentmindedness, and a foggy brain are often some of the unwelcome consequences! Doctors explain that a lack of sleep, a need to learn new skills, and a concoction of raging post-birth hormones can all send your weary brain into a tailspin.

When mom Christine Schmidt, who also founded the online store Yellow Owl Workshop, heard the phrase “mommy brain,” she decided to take action with a social media-oriented project she dubbed #getwise2013. The project combines Twitter and Instagram with her crafty and artsy skills to teach/re-teach herself (and others) one new thing every day this year. She researches different topics and then writes and illustrates facts on paper, all while keeping a sense of humor. In the interview below, Christine shares what inspired the #getwise2013 project and the pros/cons of having “mommy brain.”

Has the feedback you’ve received from #getwise2013 been encouraging? How long do you plan to continue with the project?

Through great feedback, I am learning that a lot of other moms are in the same boat. As much as I’d like to think of myself as being so much like my fun, childless friends (drinks at 9 P.M.? SURE!), I am learning to embrace my life as a new parent#getwise2013 is my New Year’s resolution. I knew I could not stick to a resolution that involved sweating or prohibiting carbs from my life. I will continue teaching myself something new every day until the end of this year.

Where do you find the facts you teach yourself every day? Any favorite sites?

I most often research stuff I have at hand or actually in my hand, like crayons. What are these suckers made of? I usually start with Wikipedia and then I just cruise trusted websites until I have figured the answer out. I never trust anything on forums where anybody, unchecked, can make up stuff. That is a practice I honed first as a pregnant lady. Google one query about, say, baby fingernails, and prepare for an anxiety spiral that proves your heartburn will cause in-utero polio.

What was the progression of your “mommy brain” like? Was it worse during pregnancy or right after?

I think “mommy brain” really hit me after my daughter, Emmy, was born. Of course the lack of sleep did not help. But as I emerged from those sleepless nights (or were they days?), I just felt this fog that I could not shake. That being said, I also think “mommy brain” really does have benefits because it seems to block out the noise. I am able to focus on what is really important right now. For example, I might not be able to remember state capitals, but I can tell you what my daughter Emmy ate last Monday, which brand of diapers give her a rash, and that her favorite part of a new gift is the paper tag — which, even with my back turned, I can tell she is eating right now!

Any advice for new moms suffering their own bout of “mommy brain”?

More than advice, I wish I could just give all new parents a hug and tell them they are doing an amazing job! When my husband. Evan. and I took Emmy to her first doctor’s appointment, we were so proud and pleased with ourselves. Parts of being a new parent were challenging (especially breastfeeding) and stressful, but we followed all the books, took charge of every detail, and ceremoniously handed the doctor this baby while expecting roses and balloons to fall from the ceiling. Surely we are the best parents this doctor has ever seenThey will write books about our pro skills! I hope I lose all the baby weight before they take my portrait for Mother of the Year. The doctor took one look at our daughter and told us she was jaundiced and losing weight because she was not receiving enough breast milk. The doctor immediately fed Emmy a bottle of formula. Devastated, I fell into a sobbing puddle. We have failed as parents. I am an inadequate mother that starves her baby. I cannot do this! As we left the doctor’s that day, I wish one of the parents in the waiting room, who could no doubt see my puffy, tear-stained face, would have just given me a hug and said, “You are doing a good job.”

Visit Christine’s Yellow Owl Workshop design blog to see photos of her #getwise2013 project. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram to learn funky facts.

Images: Yellow Owl Workshop Blog and Yellow Owl Workshop on Facebook

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It’s Not Too Late For New Year’s Resolutions, Right?

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

This is a photo of me from a few years ago before the More/Fitness Half Marathon, an all female race in New York City. It was pouring rain that day, but as you can see from the smile on my face, I was pumped. I wasn’t always so jazzed about running, though. I took it up my freshman year of college and I hated (I repeat HATED) those first couple months. I couldn’t run fast. I couldn’t run far. It sucked. But for whatever reason (probably fear of the infamous Freshman 15), I kept with it, and somewhere along the way I actually started looking forward to lacing up my sneaks and hitting the pavement.

Fast forward to January 2011, well after my college days, my love affair with running was in full swing, and I had one marathon, two halfs, and countless shorter races under my belt. Then I tore the cartilage in my knee. I remember the first thing I said after the doctor gave me the bad news was, “When can I run again?” And though he assured me I’d only be sidelined for a couple months, it took me a long time to get over my fear of reinjuring myself. Even after I had successfully reacquainted myself with running, and despite my feelings of jealousy every time I heard anyone talk of training for a half or full marathon, I was still terrified of attempting another long distance race…

…until now. I finally realized I’d never know if I’m still able to run long distances until I try, so this past weekend I began training for this year’s More/Fitness Half Marathon. I’m taking it slow, though, and will be using RunCoach as my guide. When I signed up for the program, I created a profile with my running history and got a plan customized for me. I’m sure I’ll miss workouts here and there—because of lack of motivation or if my knee is bothering me—but the thing I like about RunCoach is that I can adjust my training schedule and it’ll change up my routine and get me back on track. And if I have questions about stretching or warm ups (two things I’ve always been terrible about doing), I can email the folks at RunCoach for advice.

So now, at the end of January, I’ve made my New Year’s resolution. And no, it’s not to get back into distance racing. It’s to live by the motto, you never know unless you try. If my knee starts to hurt too much, I’ll stop training. But I’m no longer letting fear of the unknown hold me back from seeing what I’m capable of—in running, at my job, in everything. What’s holding you back from doing what you want to do?

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Rosie to the Rescue: Resolving to Give Away What We Don’t Need

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

Check out blog posts by Rosie Pope, star of Bravo’s “Pregnant in Heels,” every week at! 

As we dive into the New Year and make resolutions galore, I wanted to tell you about an English tradition that has long fallen by the wayside. Although it’s still celebrated as a national holiday, its meaning is often forgotten.

The holiday is Boxing Day and it falls on December 26th. Traditionally it was the day that servants, maids, and those who were less fortunate would receive Christmas “boxes” full of leftover foods and items no longer needed or wanted by the wealthier families.

England still observes the holiday, though no one seems to give the boxes any more. I think the root of Boxing Day, this idea that in all the excess that the holidays bring, of boxing up goodies left behind and toys no longer played with, and giving them to those who need them, is a marvelous one, especially if you are looking to adopt a resolution to share with your kids.

While I believe in the holidays as a fun, over-the-top, beautiful time, I do think we can also sprinkle in amongst all the receiving our children do, with some giving and some understanding of how fortunate they are. So on New Year’s Eve my children and I vowed to adopt this tradition, and donate the excess from our holiday season. It’s our joint resolution for 2013, and one we can start achieving right away.

Happy New Year!

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I Kept My New Year’s Resolution and Lost 80 Pounds

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013

“Lose weight. Get fit. Do a triathlon.”

Those were among my new year’s resolutions last year, and for once, I accomplished them.

In hindsight, my goals for 2012 seem preposterous. I’d just given birth to my third child three months earlier. I was weary from sleep deprivation, carpooling duties, homework, laundry, slapping together meals, freelance work, and postpartum hormones. I didn’t have a lot of “baby weight” to lose, because I hadn’t gained much. It didn’t matter, though: I went into my third pregnancy already vastly overweight. I remember stepping on my ob-gyn’s scale that first visit after I learned I was pregnant again: I weighed 198 pounds. By the time I was ready to deliver, I weighed in at 220.

Through the miracles of birth and breastfeeding, by the time the new year rolled around (so to speak), I weighed 185 pounds, heavy by any definition but especially large on my 5’4″ frame. I posted only pictures of my kids on Facebook, and retreated from public view like Greta Garbo, if Garbo had been a puffy-faced mom and not a movie star.

After the new year, something clicked. I’d been committed to losing weight before, but as corny as it sounds, this time I had a mantra in mind, “This is your year,” and I just believed it. When I got roughly 30 pounds down, people really started to notice the change. Their kind words–and the thrill of clothes shopping–encouraged me to keep going, until I’d lost a total of 80 pounds: 45 of those through my own work and 35 due to delivery and nursing (thank you, my baby girl Fiona!). And just shy of my baby’s first birthday, I completed my first sprint triathlon.

People sometimes ask me how I lost weight and now seems like a good time to look back, as a handful of those pounds crept back on over the holidays and like a few of us here at Parents and well, everywhere, I’m on a kick again, getting up before dawn to exercise and deleting emails about free brownies in the office kitchen as fast as I can. (Trade secret: There is always free food when you work at a magazine!)

Here’s how I did it:

I gave myself infinite time to lose weight. There would be no crash diets or crazy schemes I couldn’t stick with for a long time. I needed a sensible approach with flexibility. For me that plan was Weight Watchers. I did it online.

I shook off setbacks. Sometimes, I ate more than I’d planned. There were weeks I’d lost only a half-pound, or nothing. I remembered my goal, and kept going.

I didn’t exercise right away. My past attempts at doing it all at once–dieting and hitting the gym–left me discouraged, and hungry. I focused exclusively on my food intake for a good six weeks, before I started feeling a little lighter, and felt encouraged to get moving. I walked my kids to school, and started jogging home with Fiona, just a few yards at a time at first, until I was running a mile, and then another, around the neighborhood.

But I did set a big fitness goal. That was a triathlon. I hadn’t laced up a pair of running shoes in years. I didn’t own a bike. But I had months to train. Think about it: What can’t you accomplish with months to prepare? I seized opportunities to exercise: If my husband met us in the evening at our outdoor community pool, he handled the kids while I swam laps. Sometimes I didn’t get to the gym until after 9pm, but I never regretted peeling myself off the couch to go.

I surrounded myself with crazy people. When you have a vision of yourself in mind–for me, it was “athlete”–it’s not the time to listen to skeptics wonder aloud how you’re going to fit in exercise between your baby/kids/commute/job. I hooked up with an awesome training group of crazy-in-a-good-way local women called the Triwomen. Why crazy? They believe anyone–that includes you–can do a triathlon. I met a 65-year-old who learned to swim just so she could compete in her first tri. Talk about inspiring!

I bought a bikini! I’d like to say I got fit for my health, and for my three kids. That’s true. But my happiest moment, second only to finishing the triathlon, arrived in the form of a Nike two-piece I bought for our beach vacation last summer. My body’s far from perfect, but in my new midnight-blue bikini I felt…good. I felt free playing in the ocean with my kids and husband, and boogie boarding to shore beside my son. I was healthy, happy, and for once, completely unselfconscious about how I looked. That tremendous high is motivation enough to keep me on track this coming year.

In 2013, I plan to run a half-marathon, another reach, considering I hadn’t run more than 4 miles at a stretch in all of 2012. But with the help of (crazy) committed friends, time, and training, I know I’ll get there.

Good luck with your goals, whatever they may be. This is your year!

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Make New Year’s Absolutions (Instead of Resolutions)

Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

New Year confetti and balloonsEditor’s Note: In a post for an ongoing series, Dr. Harley A. Rotbart, a Parents advisor, will be guest blogging once a month. He will be offering different advice, tips, and personal stories on how parents can “savor the moment” and maximize the time they spend with kids. Read more posts by Harley Rotbart from this series.

New Year’s resolutions are a nice concept but risky business – if we don’t live up to those bold promises we feel like failures. For parents, this can be particularly tough, as we often make resolutions not only for ourselves but for our families, and this magnifies the chances of falling short and feeling guilty (We should have tried harder, done more).

For this New Year, I propose that parents avoid resolutions entirely and, instead, grant themselves absolutions. Absolutions are acts of forgiveness, amnesty from shortcomings real or imagined. The following New Year’s Absolutions are conditional upon your making one simple resolution – that you will always try to be the best parent you can. If you fulfill this resolution, you may hereby grant yourself absolution from any guilt associated with these inevitable situations in the coming year:

  1. Missing an occasional soccer game, dance rehearsal, karate match, or piano recital (no matter how hard you try to be at every one).
  2. Missing a PTA meeting or two, or failing to volunteer for the big school fund-raiser (how could they not have checked your calendar before scheduling?).
  3. Coming up short of a culinary masterpiece for dinner some nights (or maybe most nights!).
  4. Feeding your kids Pop-Tarts for breakfast in the car on the way to school on those rare chaotic mornings. (Rare?!)
  5. Allowing unavoidable work to occasionally interfere with family time.
  6. Letting some weekends slip away without accomplishing any of the planned family activities.
  7. Sneaking off to a far corner of the house to scream when your kids have pushed you to the limit.
  8. Caving in to your kids’ requests for more TV or video game time than you prefer, so you can have a little peace and quiet.
  9. Letting your mind wander to the dishes in the sink or the lawn that needs mowing when your kids are telling you the most important thing about their day.
  10. Catching yourself saying the same dreadful things to your kids that your parents said to you: “Because I said so” or “You’ll understand when you grow up.”
  11. Falling asleep before your kids during their bedtime story.
  12. Letting your kids out of the car in the school drop-off line before their hair is brushed (and is that the same shirt they wore yesterday?).
  13. Receiving a call from your child’s teacher telling you that your kid taped a classmate’s legs to the chair during arts and crafts.
  14. Doing more of your kids’ homework than you know you should, just to get it done and get them to bed.
  15. Believing that other parents are always doing a better job at everything than you are.

So this New Year, lose the guilt. Give yourself a break and be realistic about parenting; you’re doing a great job, most of the time. And, even when you wish you could do better, be wiser, and show more patience, that consciousness about your parenting proves your love and commitment to your kids. It is this love and commitment that will become your legacy as parents, for this New Year and beyond. Happy and healthy 2013 to all!

Dr. Harley A. RotbartDr. Harley A. Rotbart is Professor and Vice Chairman of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Children’s Hospital Colorado. He is the author of three books for parents and families, including the recent No Regrets Parenting, a Parents advisor, and a contributor to The New York Times Motherlode blog. Visit his blog at and follow him on Facebook and Twitter (@NoRegretsParent).


Image: Multicolored balloons and confetti via Shutterstock

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Did You Keep Your Resolutions?

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

ss_WOM50It’s been almost a month now since you committed to your 2011 resolutions. So the question is, how are they coming along?

Have you stuck to your goals and self-promises?

If you need some help getting back on track, check out, a site by the American Caner Society that’s all about encouraging and motivating women to make healthy choices to not only reduce their risk of cancer, but to live an overall healthier and happier life. We asked Colleen Doyle, director of nutrition and physical activity for ACS, for some resolution-keeping advice.

Start small Be realistic in your expectations of yourself and what you expect to achieve.  Take large or long-term goals and break them down into smaller, more manageable goals:  running a marathon may not be a realistic goal, but training for a 5K might be.

Write it down Many studies show that writing down your goals and keeping a journal on your progress toward reaching them can help keep you on track and motivated.  If you set a goal that involves improving your diet, keeping a food diary will give you insight into not only what and how much you consume, but can help you uncover why you are eating when and what you are.

Don’t rely on willpower Temptation is all around us, but being proactive about reducing these temptations and creating an environment that makes it easier to reach your goal is the way to go.  If you’re trying to quit smoking and you know that particular places are ‘triggers’ for you, avoid those places, especially early on.

Set up a support system Support from family and friends is an important part of making and sustaining healthy lifestyle changes. Begin to think of who is most supportive in your life and who can provide encouragement–and help you hold yourself accountable–along the way.

Reward your successes Treating yourself for milestones you achieve is another way to help keep you encouraged, motivated and on the right track. What’s important is choosing a reward that is right for you and that helps you continue moving toward your goals to live healthier (like new workout clothes or a bubble bath, instead of chocolate, when you meet your exercise goal for the week).

Well, how’s this for a reward? Women who make a new Choose You Commitment between now and January 31 will be eligible to enter the New Year, Choose You! sweepstakes for a chance to win a series of health-related prizes, including a celebrity fitness trip for two to Los Angeles with ExerciseTV, gift cards from spas and Walgreens, and more! Click here to learn more.

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