Fighting the Zs with Better Habits

Getting Real With Shadra Bruce

Plenty of SleepSometimes that morning coffee just doesn’t do it for you. We’ve all had days where we are just dragging, whether we are low on sleep, overworked, or just plain worn out. But if you’re having a hard time shaking sluggishness in general you might need to make some changes.

Some people can’t recall the last time they didn’t feel somewhat tired, which may be a sign that something is a little off. Chronic sleep problems could be a symptom of something other than stress. Constant fatigue is also a potential sign of depression. These are things to look into if you think there may be a serious cause.

But before you go running off to the doctor you might want to try out some simple fixes. Your diet can have a major impact on your energy levels as well as your level of activity. Incorporating exercise and healthy eating could not only boost energy but help you sleep better. Also, some people react differently to caffeine. That soda with dinner may not be much but it could be keeping you up at night.

If you find yourself fighting exhaustion all the time try to figure out why. A few changes to your day could have you feeling healthy, energized and ready when the sun rises.

Sugar High

Getting Real With Shadra Bruce

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASugary treats are fun. I have a hard enough time saying no to ice cream for myself, so imagine how hard it is when the kids want it. Dave and I could give in each time the kids want some sort of dessert but it’s really not the message we want to send. We try to restrict treats for all our sakes, because it’s definitely not the healthy choice.

Too much sugar is not good for you or your kids. Cavities are a huge risk with a high-sugar diet. Childhood obesity and other health complications have been directly linked to sugar consumption.  Worst of all, the habits your kids form now will likely influence their health and habits as adults.

The easiest way to limit sugar is to keep it limited inside and outside the house. Set the right example, and show your kids how to have balance. A couple of cookies after a healthy dinner? Sure. A whole package of oreos for an after school snack? No way.

It’s all about moderation and balance, teaching our kids to make healthy choices most of the time so that a treat is a treat and not a habit.

Keep Pedaling

1351011551ud4zbNothing in life is worth doing if you’re not passionate about it. And if you’re passionate about it, it’s always worth it. The simplest job can be a wonderful experience if you can expand your mind enough to see how it fits into your bigger picture and appreciate the skills and experiences you gain from it. Every step we take, professionally and personally, is part of an overall journey of discovery. Make the most out of your journey by keeping an open mind and fully engaging in every experience.

It’s easy to be distracted by everything that life throws at you, but the people who achieve the most success are the ones who stay focused. Achieving your goals requires more than just effort; it will require consistently putting one foot in front of the other while maintaining confidence in your own agenda (even – and perhaps especially – when it differs from what others might expect from you). Think of the effort it takes to make that first push on the pedal of a bike: the first push is the hardest, but then, as long as you keep pedaling, you keep moving forward. If you stop, you have to give it that big push all over again. So stay focused – and keep pedaling.

Don’t let momentary setbacks keep you from seeing both the progress you’ve made and the view up ahead. Sure, you’re going to have rough times. You’re going to change directions, question yourself, and worry that every step you’ve taken is wrong. If it wasn’t hard to get there, you wouldn’t appreciate it nearly as much as you will. And one of those things you may have to learn with time is that even when the road has a lot more curves than you expect, you’ll eventually look back and love the journey you took to get where you’re going.

Healthy Snacking

Getting Real With Shadra Bruce

healthy grocery shoppingFrom fruit snacks and juices to crackers and cookies, there are a lot of snack choices in the grocery store isles. If your kids are like mine, they are begging for all o them.  What’s worse is that every single one of these potential snacks is likely to have some label boasting about its nutritional value. It’s tot that they are lying. There really are essential nutrients buried somewhere beneath the sugar.

It’s frustrating to navigate, because even the snacks you thought were healthy probably aren’t. Fruit snacks are loaded with sugar and other go-to snack choices have high sodium levels and trans-fats. You also have to watch out for organic products, because the label for organic by itself does not guarantee healthy eating, as organic products can have just as much sugar and calories as a non-organic snack.

When it comes to snacking for both you and your child, try to shop fresh produce as much as possible. Vegetables and hummus make for a delicious snack and  a piece of fresh fruit satisfies the sweet tooth. It’s pretty easy to pack a small bag with an ice pack to keep snacks cool, and if you do really need a portable snack, consider a handful of nuts (for those without food allergies) or a string cheese.

Making smarter snack choices is good for your kids and teaches them better eating habits, but it’s good for you, too.

Play Dates for Adults

Getting Real With Shadra Bruce

1509319_10203647724500798_8824631631744993255_nIt’s all too easy to get wrapped up in the social life of your child. Even when you do spend time interacting with adults, it’s often still child-related as if your life was nothing more than birthday parties, teacher conferences, and extracurriculars. You had a social circle before children, and the same circle can easily exist when you have kids.

The benefit of having adults-only time is that you can discuss things other than your child. It may seem obvious and even a little callous, but it’s reality. Sometimes you want to talk about yourself as a person and not as a mother, which is easier to do when your kids aren’t there. It can be a time to stimulate yourself intellectually with those you met in college or just catch up and have a good time with a lifelong friend.

If you have to schedule your own play date then by all means, make it happen. Life gets busy and it’s so easy to say to someone that you’ll catch up later. Make definite plans and schedule something fun to do with other adults in your circle. You might even be able to have beverages that you don’t find at children’s parties.

Blood Doesn’t Equal Family

Getting Real with Shadra Bruce

familyThink of the first five people that you would call in an emergency. Are they blood relatives? If they’re not, do you consider them to be part of your family? Family is not just about who you are tied to biologically.

Blood may be thicker, but your body is still made up of 70% water. You can’t live without either substance, and the makeup of your family probably isn’t much different. Unfortunately, there is still a misconception that biological ties are stronger than others. Family may be blood, but those who are not biologically related can still be family.

There is no clear definition anymore of what a family is, particularly with the way things are changing. Same-sex marriages are becoming legalized all over the country; high divorce and remarriage rates produce blended families. Adoption is common for all types of couples. And this isn’t even counting the “aunts” and “uncles” who aren’t really related but still an integral piece of the family unit.

I have learned firsthand that a family consists of those who care about and support you.Unfortunately, this doesn’t always mean blood relatives. Many of the people who are my family share no blood connection to me whatsoever, including two of my sons and one of my daughters, my brother-in-law, and some dear friends who are as close to me as my own siblings.

Families come in all shapes and sizes, and blood ties are optional.

Little Heroes

20140417_083937Despite the fact that we work at home, we are not immune to the demands of life when children return from school. Just because we are home doesn’t mean we’ve tended to the household (you should see the dust that piles up, normally until Dave can’t stand it anymore and he grabs the dust cloth).

But it’s the children who are most important, and we don’t want to ignore their demands – especially after they’ve been so patient with us finishing up our work. Even after a tough day ,you can’t simply ignore their pleas for both dinner and attention.

Most times, you’ll be able to find enough energy to play a game or spend time doing something with your kids for a while, but some days you just don’t have it in you. Some days, our brains are so frazzled it’s all we can do to pick up the phone, order the pizza, and get out the paper plates.

And that’s ok.

Kids will notice your lack of interest and attention, so admit to your child that you have had a bad o long or tiring day. They’ve had bad days too and can definitely relate. Give them credit.

You might be surprised at their response, whether it is playing quietly by themselves or helping to clean up the house.

When your kids really need you and you don’t have a lot of energy, choose a relaxing activity that you all can enjoy together. Let your child know you would really like to sit and read, or perhaps watch a favorite show together. You can share time together without devoting your full attention, and it will show your child that even on your worst days they can still make you happy. Just do them a favor and disconnect. Nothing sends the message to your kids that they aren’t important than you choosing your phone and Facebook friends over them.

[Tweet “Nothing sends the message to your kids that they aren’t important than you choosing your phone and Facebook friends over them.”]

As much as we want to be heroes for our children, sometimes they are our heroes.

Why Diets Fail

wine for dinnerThere are many fad diets out there, most targeted specifically at women. Lose 10 pounds in one week, shrink belly fat, and get toned by consuming strange mixtures of maple syrup and cayenne pepper and who knows what else. Fad diets all promise the same thing: they all offer quick fixes to a goal that takes long-term dedication.

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The first problem with fad diets is that they don’t take into account individual differences. One type of diet, such as Paleo, might work for one person but it certainly isn’t going to work for everyone. The other problem is that many fad diets constrict your diet to an extreme extent. I don’t know about you, but the second I’m told I can’t have something it’s literally all I want. So cravings and binge eating tends to become a huge issue surrounding fad diets.

The other thing that fad diets fail to emphasize is exercise. You can cut all the calories in the world, but you aren’t going to reach a healthy place. And that goes both ways. Simply because you hit the gym that morning does not mean you can swing through McDonalds for dinner every night. Healthy eating and exercise go hand in hand.

[Tweet “Hitting the gym in the morning doesn’t mean you should have fast food for dinner.”]

Ultimately, you have to do some experimenting to decide what is right for your body and lifestyle. You may not have time for the gym, but maybe you can take a walk with your dog or partner. If lunch out is a huge draw, pack healthy snacks and meals that you can look forward to. Feel it out and choose what works for you, because if you don’t like it, you won’t stick with it.

[Tweet “In the end, it has to be less about the latest fad and more about making lifestyle changes you can live with.”]

(im)Perfect Moms

Getting Real with Shadra Bruce

dusty house happy kidsBeing a mom is a full-time job by itself. Balancing family, your personal life, school and work, as well as everything else that life tosses in your direction can sometimes seem overwhelming. One way to save your sanity and learn to enjoy your life is to realize that it’s not about being a perfect mom but more about being the perfect mom to your kids.

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When you’re under a lot of stress, the first thing you can do is prioritize. If dinner is hard to handle, prepare meals on your off days that can be cooked when time is short. If the house is looking a little messy, enlist the help of your children for small rewards such as an extra bed time story or extra time with their electronics. And honestly, if you would rather play with your kids than spend time cleaning nobody is going to mind the mess.

[Tweet “If you would rather play with your kids than spend time cleaning nobody is going to mind the mess”]

It’s a hard truth to face but you’re not going to juggle it all every time. You’ll miss a ball here or there, whether it’s skipping a shower, forgetting a meeting at work or swinging through the drive-thru because it’s easier than cooking.

Lucky for us moms, kids are pretty resilient. They’ll survive being fed the occasional cheeseburger or pizza, and if you skip cleaning the house to spend time with them, you’ll be their hero, not a bad housekeeper.

Exclusive Interview with Alexi Lawless, Author of Complicated Creatures

Full disclosure: Alexi Lawless hired my business, DaSh factor, for marketing & consultation. It was just a deliciously wonderful surprise that I’ve ended up loving her book (a curl up and read romantic-erotic-adventure) enough to recommend it here on MomsGetReal.

Getting Real with Shadra Bruce

I sat down (long-distance, via Skype and email) with Alexi, my new FAVORITE author, for an interview to get to know the writer behind the well-paced, uber-exciting, now-available-on-Kindle Complicated Creatures.

[Tweet “Read my interview with Alexi LAWLESS, author of Complicated Creatures.”]

We skipped the boring questions and got straight to the meat.

MomsGetReal: What do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors?

Complicated Creatures_ebooksmAlexi: I’m a die-hard Anne Rice fan. She had me at “Lestat”. I think my mother was incredibly worried that my dream man was an 18th century vampire with a penchant for leather pants, hot blood and the debauched streets of the French Quarter. When I read “Exit to Eden” at fourteen, I was pretty certain being a Domme was my intended job description, and may actually explain a great deal of my career path in strategy and management consulting (those hard-ass executives seem to jones the most for chronic abuse after all).

I’m a big fan of some up-and-comers too. Tarryn Fisher writes an evil plot twist that makes me want to hurl my Kindle across the room and purr with pleasure at the same time. CD Reiss may write some of the hottest sex scenes I ever read (and that’s saying something given my proclivities for the dark arts) with some fantastic character development and CJ Roberts is both spell-binding and disturbing in an entirely Rice-esque way. (I think she may have actually been torn from Anne’s rib). Alice Severin writes a rocker like no other– she makes Mick Jagger look staid compared to her vision of Tristan and I thoroughly enjoy that woman’s turn of phrase.

Your profile says: “Corporate Runaway. Novelist. Wanderer. Bourbon Drinker.” What are your drinks of choice (besides Bourbon)?

[Tweet “Pinot I drink by the case. Bourbon I drink by the bottle. Martinis I drink by the glass. #ComplicatedCreatures”]

Writing is hard work. What inspires you?

Music. I can’t write without music. In fact, I’m so reliant on it, I find no matter where I am in the world, if I turn on my playlist for the book/scene/character I’m writing, I can transport to that pretty quickly.

Check out Alexi’s playlist.

Your book spans the globe, almost literally. Where are your favorite places to travel?

I spend a lot of time on the road. I think I’ve traveled something like 60% of the world. I just finished a several month stint in South America. Next up: the Middle East. But I’ve been all over Asia, Europe, North America, South America, Northern Africa, Western Asia, Eastern Europe and the Pacific Ocean.

What do you do for fun?

Travel. Read. Drink. Write. Read while drinking. Write while traveling. Sadly, the drinking while writing is rarely productive, so we had to put a curb to that.

Are you a curl up with a good book kind of girl or a discotheque ‘til 4am kind of girl? In other words, how similar is Alexi to Samantha?

In the words of Sandra Cisneros, “I’m an aim-well, shoot-sharp, sharp-tongued, sharp-thinking, fast-speaking, foot-loose, loose-tongued, let-loose, woman-on-the-loose, loose woman. Beware, honey.”

What are you working on now, Alexi?

I am knees and elbows deep into writing Complicated Creatures Part 2. I also spend a bit of time thinking about who I’d like to play the key roles in Complicated Creatures if it became a movie.

I’m grateful Alexi took the time to chat with me about herself…and I do HIGHLY recommend the book. This is not your typical read-it-in-an-afternoon romance. It’s a highly evolved, deep story about a very strong woman, Samantha, who alternates her time between dodging bullets and dodging heartbreak…and if you think she is awesome (she is) just wait until you meet Jack.

If you are a blogger interested in reviewing Complicated Creatures, we have review copies available. To join the blog tour that runs June 25-July 31, sign up here.

Find out more about Alexi LAWLESS and Complicated Creatures:

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