Don’t Believe Everything You Think: Part 2

Welcome back to part 2 of my series on cognitive restructuring

Just a reminder: cognitive distortions are automatic, negative thoughts. They are typically inaccurate and influence your emotions and behaviors if left unchallenged. I wrote about a few types of cognitive distortions that popped in my head as I was rushing out of my messy house last week.

If you’ve spent some time this week paying attention to your thoughts and recognizing distortions when they happen, you probably noticed that they can happen very frequently. Everyone, to some degree, has cognitive distortions. The more you practice challenging them, the faster and easier it becomes, until the more accurate thought becomes automatic.

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Don’t Believe Everything You Think: Part 1

The kitchen is a disaster. Mail is strewn all over the table, bottles that need washed are in the sink and on the counter. Empty pizza boxes are on the stove, evidence of us not following our meal plan last night. I look down and my toenail polish is half chipped off, yet I’m still wearing sandals to work today. Folded laundry is sitting in the family room that has been waiting to be put away.

I look around at all that’s undone as I rush to get of the house and on my way to work, and have to fight off negative thoughts that are persistent in my mind.

Look at all this. This is not good enough. 

I am so lazy. I should have cleaned up last night. 

I’m never going to have the kind of house I want. 

I’m a bad wife, a bad mom. Other people are so much better at this. 

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Dairy Free Blueberry Muffins

When Jack was first diagnosed with having a milk protein allergy, the prospect of cutting all dairy out of my diet was daunting. There is dairy in so many things that I love! If you know me, you know I love sweets and baked goods. Saying farewell was not something I wanted to do, but giving up breastfeeding was not an option in my mind for me personally.

Luckily there are amazing resources out there for eating dairy free, and not having easy access to just grabbing something at the store when I have a craving has lead me to spend more time getting creative in the kitchen.

This weekend, muffins sounded so good. When Jack went down for a nap, Mama got to baking.

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When breastfeeding threw me a curveball… twice

I have been breastfeeding Jack for 8 months, and I completely love it. I love the bond that we have, and I appreciate my body so much more for what it is capable of. It may be selfish, but I cherish the time we get to spend together doing something that is just for Jack and I.

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We don’t co-sleep, but I love to snuggle with Jack and nurse in bed sometimes

Getting to where we are now in our breastfeeding journey has been a long road. It has been extremely painful, challenging, and scary at times. There have even been a few very unexpected surprises.

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August Goals

Goal setting is an incredibly helpful tool. Unfortunately, sometimes I am a lot better at setting goals than meeting goals. Something I have decided to do is write about and post my goals on the blog. I am hoping the aspect of making these goals public will hold me accountable for following through with working toward my goals for more than a week or so.

This morning I took Jack’s 8 month pictures. I’m hoping to reach the goals I set for myself today by the time we take those 9 month pictures! By the way, anyone else noticing their monthly pictures getting a lot harder to take as their baby is getting a little older? Such a wiggle worm!

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Blog Goal

It’s been just over three weeks since Mommyhood and Mental Health went live. On July 12th, I had my very first page views! For the rest of the month of July, the blog had 543 views. Pretty good, for a brand new, little blog.

In August, my goal is 700 views. I will work toward this goal by posting two times per week and being active on blog networking Facebook pages most days.

Mental Health Goal

The last few weeks have been extremely busy around here. I have a tendency to put taking care of myself on the back burner when things get busy. My goal is to practice self-care 3 times a week. This can be by reading (I got Harry Potter and the Cursed Child over the weekend so I know what I’m reading), coloring, practicing yoga, or practicing deep breathing.

Physical Health Goal

When I take care of myself physically, I have more energy and feel so much better mentally. I also really want to be my healthiest for my son. To have energy to keep up with him as he gets more and more active, and to ensure I’m doing what I can to have as long a life as possible with him.

My goal is to exercise 3 times a week. Additionally, I want to go back to my Crossfit gym this month, even if it’s just for one class. I was frequently going to Crossfit classes until probably around my third trimester. I really enjoyed it, and love feeling strong. I want to feel that again! Here I am pretending to overhead squat a cruise ship right before I got pregnant…

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Financial Goal

In July, I tried to track our daily spending in a notebook. My idea is to track for a few months, get a more accurate idea of how much we are spending, and find ways we can save more.  Ultimately, the notebook would get left in the car or at work, and I stopped tracking pretty quickly.  This month, I made a tracking sheet that is now on our fridge. My goal is to follow through with tracking for the whole month.

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So there you have it, my goals for the month of August. What are your goals? What are barriers that may get in the way of you meeting your goals, and what has helped you be successful in the past? Let me know!

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Quick and Easy Veggie Soup

As a busy, working mom, I don’t always have time to cook meals that not only taste good, but are good for me. It’s so much easier to grab something on my way home, or even just have a bowl of cereal for dinner. And to be honest, I haven’t always been the biggest fan of vegetables, so the go to late night dinners were not always the healthiest choices.

So when one day I decided to throw a bunch of vegetables in the crock pot and see what happens, I kind of surprised myself. First, that I thought to make a meal out of so many veggies. Second, that I actually enjoyed it!

This soup is seriously the easiest thing in the world. It’s quick, inexpensive, gets a lot of vegetables in, and tastes really good. Obviously, I feel so much better when I’m eating healthier. So, this is a win.

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Stir the following together in the crock pot, I set the crock pot on high for 4 hours:

  • One can green beans
  • One can sweet peas
  • One can corn
  • One can tomatoes
  • 2 peeled and diced sweet potatoes
  • 5(ish) peeled and chopped carrots (or a can… I just always have carrots on hand for making Jack’s baby food
  • One box vegetable stock (I use the majority of the box, but save some to add to leftovers if needed)

Now, just the veggies would be delicious enough, but at the recommendation of my carnivorous husband, we now cook up a roll of breakfast sausage to add in, which gives a delicious salty flavor (and makes it a little more filling).

So there you have it. Easy, quick, tasty, and full of veggies. Definitely not a creative, culinary masterpiece, but something that works well for our busy new parent lifestyle, and is a staple in our household.

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Domains of Self-Worth

When using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to treat clients with eating disorders, one technique frequently used is called “domains of self-worth”. What this involves is identifying aspects of your life that are important in measuring your self-worth (work, family relationships, faith, etc.). These things are then put into a pie chart, with each piece of the pie representing the percentage of importance each aspect is. Typically, clients with eating disorders identify the biggest (sometimes only) piece of the pie as “appearance”, “weight”, or something similar. What happens when one piece of the pie is predominant (think, having all your eggs in one basket), and it’s not going well or is viewed as negative, is that self-worth plummets. Therefore, it’s important for client’s to work on adding or increasing other pieces of their pie.

While preparing to use this technique in a group this evening, I thought about how this relates to me right now. The moment I found out I was pregnant, my pie completely changed, and the predominant piece became “Parenting”. For the most part, I’m okay with this. I absolutely adore being a mom and I thrive in this role. I’ve actually said “I was born to be a mom”.

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With all that being said, being a mom is not the only thing that defines me. So what are my other pie pieces? Honestly, I had to think about it a little bit. Since the blog is slowly building up traffic (yay!) and more people are reading than the handful of my Facebook friends I invited to like the Mommyhood and Mental Health Blog Facebook page, I figured I could explore my other domains of self-worth while also introducing myself to you as more than just mom.

Marriage

I strongly identify myself as part of a couple, part of a team. Last week was hometown dates on The Bachelorette (my guiltiest of pleasures), and one of the dads said something along the lines of “if you’re with that person, you know everything is going to be okay”. That’s exactly how I feel about Ryan. To build up this pie piece, I will work on taking care of this relationship and not letting my own emotions control my interactions with my husband.

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Family

My family and Ryan’s family are amazing. I am extremely lucky to have these very happy relationships, especially that with my mom.  She is my best friend. She helps talk me through challenging situations, and she is always there for me. Two years ago, she and my step-dad moved out of state, but they are moving back home (thanks, Jack)! I will grow this pie piece by spending time with all of my family, but especially with my mom.  I see some yoga classes and farmers markets in my future for the summer.

Hobbies

In the past, I could get lost in a book for hours. I would stay up late reading “just one more chapter”. This is definitely a trait I got from my mother! I truly enjoy reading, there were even times when I would keep a book in my purse, just in case I had some down time. Blogging has quickly become a hobby I enjoy as well, and I feel good about sharing my thoughts with people (still a little scared, but good). These days, my down time is limited. By the time I get home from work and get Jack to bed, I usually just want to sit on the couch and watch tv. Relaxing, but definitely not the best use of my time, and not building up parts of myself that are important.  I don’t want to identify as “Netflixer”. So to grow this pie piece, I will spend time each week reading, even if it’s only for a half hour a week, and I will continue with the blog.

My favorite of all time
                       My favorite of all time

Cooking

This is a new one for me. Cooking always seemed more like a chore, but recently I have actually been enjoying preparing meals on my days off. I wonder if this because Jack is now eating a lot of the same food we are eating, so he also gets some of what I prepare, or because it’s easier to cook for myself when food needs to be dairy free. No matter what the reason, planning for meals and cooking meals for my family has given me a sense of pride and enjoyment that I never felt before. So to continue growing this pie piece, I will continue with meal plan weekly, and cook on my days off.

Outdoors

I might be my happiest when I’m outside.  As long as the weather is decent, I adore being outside. I’ve worked hard in the last few years to figure out what things nourish my soul. Something about the color of the sky and trees, sound of birds, and the feel of a breeze leave me feeling peaceful. I can grow this pie piece by trying to do something outside each week (weather dependent).

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    Rocky Mountain National Park

Friendships

My best friends live across the country. It’s not easy to keep in touch as much as we’d like to, especially with different schedules, responsibilities, and in different time zones. This one is easy for how I will grow this piece in the short term. My two best friends are flying in this weekend to visit and meet Jack!

Work

Finally, the reason I know about domains of self-worth in the first place. I have my Bachelor’s degree in psychology, and after taking a year off, I got my Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Currently, I’m working with both adolescents and adults with eating disorders. I have always been very interested in eating disorders, and I love working with people to build better relationships with food and their bodies. As much as I enjoy my work, it can be mentally draining, so to grow this pie piece, I will be present at work and with my clients, but I will leave work at work and take care of myself when I’m not there.

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We’ve been engaged for all of about two days in this picture. Look at that baby face!

What are your domains of self-worth? Do you want to add more, or grow your existing domains? How are you going to do that? Let me know in the comments!

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Generations 

One of the greatest blessings of having Jack has been sharing him with family. Seeing him with our siblings and parents is something we don’t take for granted, but there is something so special about seeing your child with your own grandparents. I am incredibly lucky to have my grandparents (aka Mama and Papa) still, and to have been able to spend this past weekend with them.

Mama and Papa were first able to meet Jack when he was about 7 weeks old. He was so tiny then!

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Fast forward almost 6 months. Mama and Papa were able to come in from Florida for my cousin’s wedding. Despite the wedding festivities, we were able to spend the majority of the weekend visiting with them. They went from knowing a 7 week old baby, to a 7 month old baby. Quite a difference!

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Two things struck me so significantly during our time together. The first thing is Papa’s relationship with Jack. My grandfather is so bonded  and connected with Jack. It brings me so much joy to just watch Papa watching Jack. For a man who I have always known as incredibly stoic, love and emotion just pour out of him when he’s near Jack.

The other thing that struck me is something Papa said. He talked about comparing Jack’s life at this age to what his own life and world were like when he was 7 months old. He wondered what Jack’s world will be like when he’s Papa’s age.

This got me thinking about how lucky and blessed our family is. Papa’s father died when he was a young teenager, so he took over the role of “man of the house”. He got up early to walk to the school and shovel coal into the school furnace to heat the building, all before starting his school day. He served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. Up until a year or two ago, he was still acting as neighborhood handy man for his entire neighborhood, while well into his 90s.

Jack’s life will probably be very different from Papa’s. Hopefully Jack won’t have to work at age 14 to take care of his family. Hopefully he won’t know the desperation of a Depression or the fear of a World War. If all goes according to plan, he will be taken care of and comfortable. He will have more than he needs, especially in a world where kids have their own iPhones before kindergarten (I have every intention of that not being my child).

I have yet to face the big parenting challenges, but I’m already wondering about this one. How do I shape my son into a man like Papa, when their worlds are so different? How do I teach him the value and importance of hard work and responsibility? To not take things for granted, to appreciate what he has. To treat everyone with respect, to be generous, and to always follow through when he gives his word.

I know Papa won’t be around forever to help shape Jack into a good man, but I’ll always ask myself what Papa would teach Jack. Hopefully, my son will always be someone Papa would see himself in and be proud of. IMG_6128

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How I’m Accepting My Mom Bod

In the almost 8 months since Jack was born, I’ve been able to lose the weight I gained during my pregnancy (thanks, breastfeeding). I literally have no other idea how since my exercise is minimal and my intake is sugary. But let me tell you, my body looks completely different than it did a year and a half ago at the same weight. It’s quite shocking sometimes to look in the mirror and remember “oh yeah, this is me now!”
In all honesty though, it’s been tough. I’ve struggled with negative body image thoughts for as long as I can remember, so I’ve been having to work hard to not let those thoughts come out of their dark cave and harass my brain every time I look in the mirror or try on clothes. I figure I can let my negative thoughts run wild and feel terrible, or I can work toward self-acceptance and embrace my body as it is now. I’ll chose option B please!
So here are so of my ideas for accepting (or working toward accepting) my new mom bod. Some of these I’m already doing, some I plan to start doing.

 

  • Challenge the negative automatic thoughts that say my appearance is so important. Actually, it’s not. My appearance is such an insignificant factor in what makes me who I am or what makes the people in my life love me.
  • Remind myself that this body has accomplished the most incredible thing. This body conceived, grew, and gave birth to my beautiful son (and had to work damn hard to do so, I might add). This body continues to provide him with nourishment everyday, and is smart enough to tailor the breastmilk I make to meet his nutritional needs. This body, although lacking the muscle tone it once had, is strong enough to hold that big baby all day.

 

  • Treat my body the way it should be treated, and that means exercising it and feeding it well. Not dieting, and not over exercising, but listening to my body’s cues and recognizing when more activity or more vegetables will give me more energy and make me feel less “blah” (you all know what I mean when I say feeling blah). When we really practice, I believe that our bodies will find a way of letting us know what we’re needing. I will try to start listening better.
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Hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park at 6 months pregnant!
  • Tell myself that wherever I am is good enough. I don’t need to look any certain way for any person. I need to be healthy and happy to be the best mom I can be for my son, and beating myself up emotionally because I don’t look a certain way is not going to make me happy. If making some changes is a goal I have, then instead of getting frustrated that I’m not where I want to be, instead reminding myself that I am a work in progress and being proud of what I’m doing to take care of myself in the moment.

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  • Identify one thing I like about myself daily. This does not need to be appearance related. Maybe you like your sense of humor, that you’re a good wife/mom/friend, that you work hard in your job, that you’re creative with your kids, that you make great pancakes. These are all things that increase our worth without having anything to do with what we look like, and these are the things that should be celebrated. Today I like that I’ve been putting myself out there with this blog. That’s big for me!

 

  • Find resources that promote body positivity and acceptance. I want to do a whole post on this in the future, but I’ll leave a link here for my favorite Instagram page here. This page, called “Positive Body Image” shares great quotes that are so encouraging and real.

 

Mamas, tell me about your journey with your wonderful, beautiful, strong, capable mom bod. How are you accepting or loving yourself today, what do you like about yourself today? What are some resources you enjoy for fostering self-acceptance and body positivity? Comment below and let me know!

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Monday morning 

It’s Monday morning. Usually I’m rushing around getting everything ready for Jack and I to get out of the house. Bottles and food, check. Extra clothes and diapers, check. All of my stuff for work, check. Then out the door to Gigi’s house. 

Today was a little different. This Monday morning, I was also saying goodbye to my parents who were staying with us for the weekend. They volunteered to take Jack today, since it was on the way for them to get home. So this Monday morning I’m taking my time getting all of my things ready. Max is at doggy day camp today, and the house is quiet. 

A quiet house is good most of the time, but not on Monday mornings when the only things keeping me company are my thoughts. This Monday morning, the weight of missing my baby is heavy on me. It feels like unending pressure on my chest, my throat, my heart. My eyes burn with tears as I gather my things and prepare to fight traffic to work when all I want to be doing is snuggling on my couch with my cozy, warm, wiggly baby. Or as much as he will let me snuggle him! I move slow as I gather my things. Maybe that’s because I suddenly feel zapped of energy, or maybe I’m trying to avoid starting the week as long as possible. 


I started missing him the moment I buckled him into his car seat. I miss his soft, fuzzy hair that still smells sweet from his last bath. I miss his red cheeks, big blue eyes, and even bigger smile. My arms ache to hold him and I count down the hours until 8:00pm when he will be back in them, just in time for a few minutes of kisses and playing before bedtime. 


So baby, Mama will tough it out through another Monday morning. I know you are in excellent hands today and every day you’re not with me. There is no skill or tool to make me stop missing you, but I’ll remind myself that I’m going to work today for you. To make sure you have everything you need. Even though it hurts in every possible way to be away from you, I’ll do it because I love you. 

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