Last week I sat down (on the phone) with Natalie Bodenhamer, the woman behind the hello day blog. I’ve followed her blog and Instagram for a while and really enjoy the positive, yet real, tone she sets. Talking with Natalie was a blast and she was patient with me as I peppered her with questions about how she stays fit and healthy as a mom. Part one was posted earlier, here’s part two.
Devin Pope: So, do you have any routines that you’ve found helpful? Whether it’s food prep or otherwise?
Natalie Bodenhamer: Okay, I do, this week. But one thing to mention is that as a mom, I think your number one thing that you need to remember when you’re developing routines is that it will always change, and always fluctuate. My routine that works really well when I have one kid who is six months old is very different than my routine when I had two kids and the youngest was six months old. And it’s different now. Sometimes I get frustrated by that because I’m like, “Wait, wait, I had a good thing going and now you don’t nap anymore or you don’t like the kids club at the gym, oh now you like it.” So it’s tough as a mom because you have to be very adaptable about your routine sometimes.
Devin: It’s hard for me to not see change in routine as failure.
Natalie: Right, right. I just think, how can we work with this? Moms get pretty good at that because you have to do it with everything from your sleep, to when you shower to when you work. We as moms are pretty good at adapting. So, that would be number one. For me right now, where my kids are at it actually works very well for us to go to the gym together. That’s been something that I have to try to navigate – what’s the best time of the day? what’s the best time for them, is it morning or afternoon? when will they be in the best spirits? I have to be pretty diligent in sticking to that even if other things come up. I recently was reminded of the fact that we can be good at many things, but we can’t be great at many things. It just reminded me that I can say no to things. I need to be able to say no to things if I really want to be successful at anything. So for right now, my jam is getting to the gym and that works really well. And doing a few runs a week, maybe with or without my kids. Also, it’s definitely helpful setting up that routine at the beginning of the week. Saturday I start thinking about the following week and Sunday I really solidify, write things in my calendar, like “Running Thursday morning with Jaime” or “Gym while Reese is at school, with Vera.” Everyday I identify the time and then if I have other bonus things that really want to do in addition to that, like fitting in 30 minutes of yoga in the afternoon while they watch a show, then that’s gravy. But I know my baseline of what I need to do and everything beside that is a bonus.
I’m not really good at food prep. I shop for 3-4 days at a time and work in those chunks and loosely know what I’m going to make. I know what ingredients I buy – so I know that we’re having chicken and ground turkey and fish – but I don’t necessarily know how that’s going to play out. When I was working full time, I was a lot more dialed in on this regard and I’m still just celebrating the fact that I don’t have to be and I can play it by ear. So I’m not great at food prep because I don’t have to be right now which is great.
Devin: That freedom is nice too. Are there any apps, websites or products that make your life easier?
Natalie: I am a big music person when I work out. And when I don’t work out. But I rarely workout when I’m not listening to something, so Spotify is what I use on a regular basis. I have some of my own playlists and I follow some other playlists. The Tone It Up girls have some good ones and so do Nike Women and Nike Training Club. So having good music and even music that you don’t have to curate yourself is great. I use Nike Training Club the app often for workouts and I also use some Tone It Up workouts. I usually mix up my workout with those two things. Like I was at the gym today and I did ten minutes of treadmill and then an arms routine and then ten minutes of treadmill and another arms routine. I customize my own workouts but definitely when it comes to strength training I use other people’s developed workouts, whether it’s Nike Training Club or Tone It Up. Those are my two go-to’s. I’ve been happy enough with them that I haven’t reached out to find any others. For running apps I use RunKeeper and Nike Running. Right now I’ve been using Nike Running because we’re kind of drinking the Nike Kool Aid over here… [laughs] my husband works there. So those are good. Right now I’m actually not tracking any of my fitness related things outside of writing them down in my calendar. I don’t have any advice about using MyFitnessPal or any apps like that. I’ve done it in the past but it’s nice to kind of let go of some of the tracking of things since I’m not training for anything right now.
Devin: I understand… I’ve used MyFitnessPal to track food, but I’m not doing it right now. It’s nice to have a break.
Natalie: Yeah, that resonates with me. I don’t track my food at all. I just cannot or it puts me into a very unhealthy mindset. So when I do track things it’s tracking my activity level.
I do have one other thing to mention. I think that there’s a tendency to think that we have to workout for twenty minutes or thirty minutes or an hour to really make it count and, again, motherhood really taught me that even if I have ten or fifteen minutes, and that’s all I have, it’s better than nothing, and to really take advantage of those small sections of time. Not so much because you gotta get your burn, baby, or to erase that muffin you ate, not from a calorie standpoint, but from knowing what ten minutes of exercise does for my body and my whole mindset. It’s just a really good reset. I know some people may not have that same approach but it’s definitely something I can do when I only have ten minutes and I’m a bit anxious or on edge because of my kids. Even just five rounds of five exercises for thirty seconds each. Or a quick segment of yoga. I really had to learn that that matters and to not neglect those opportunities. And also don’t be obsessive about it, but in a balanced way and in a way where you don’t give yourself that excuse of “Oh, I only have ten minutes I better not do anything.” Because I’ve found that can lead to the next day thinking the same thing and the next day and all of a sudden you’re like I used to work out, I’m not sure what happened.
Devin: It can feel so hard to start back up again if I haven’t exercised in a while. It’s like I lose momentum.
Natalie: Right, exactly.
Devin: We’re almost done here, but I wanted to touch back on the whole mind and body aspect. Do you do anything in particular for that, like meditate?
Natalie: I wouldn’t say that I sit down – even in yoga – and specifically say that I’m going to meditate right now. But sometimes I will set myself on something to think about and really focus on thinking about that thing for the duration of my run. It’s usually when I’m running outside – I don’t do that so much when I’m in the gym, I’d rather blast JLo or something. But if I’m in an environment I will – for me I feel more alive when I’m running outside. So if I’m running outside I will sometimes listen to a short podcast and then tell myself after the podcast, really think about these things for the duration of the run to give myself a framework for thought and then be okay with wherever that goes. I am also the praying type, so that to me it’s thought, it’s prayer, it’s all of those things in one. I try listening to myself and even writing those thoughts down or calling a friend and sharing it with my friend if it’s a big nugget of thought to makE sure I don’t lose it. I usually don’t do those things in a vacuum, I call my husband or I call a friend. But sometimes exercise for me is a place to mentally check out too, and that’s where I get into my thing where I’m in the gym and just want to zone out to a certain beat and feel like I’m dancing. Other times it’s more contemplative and I do some thought work. It’s a mix of both.
Devin: Do you have any advice for parents? Something encouraging to leave with them?
Natalie: Gosh, parenting can be super hard and depending on the type of person we are we can be really hard on ourselves or not, but I would say that surrounding ourselves with other people who are also doing it and who we can just be honest with is very important. That can be from a group of five people, a group of thirty people, or it could be just from your partner. But don’t be isolated in your parenting because that can be a really dark place. Kids can really suck the life out of you and you can feel so down in the dumps about even the trajectory of the rest of your life. Is this going to be the rest of my life? Am I going to be sleepless and yelled at by kids forever? I can’t do anything right – is this my life? So I found in those moments, almost regardless of who I shared with, but sharing it with someone so they can say, “Hey Natalie, yes this sucks but it won’t always suck. This is not the rest of your life, your kids will not always be this way, they will sleep through the night.” Whatever the issue is, but just getting outside of my head and sharing it with someone else helps me greatly. And that’s when you’re down in the dumps, having a community is also for the greatest joys that your kids bring you. It’s so much fun to have people around you to share it with so that they can see the little victories or the big victories that parenthood has too, so you’re not experiencing it all by yourself.
Devin: That’s great – it makes me feel better just listening to that.
Natalie: [laughs] Yes, you’re definitely not in it alone.
Thank you again, Natalie, for speaking with me for Parenting Collective! I know I got a lot out of our conversation.