Getting my sparkle back

sparkling detox sweat pink

I’m five weeks postpartum, and while I’m still in the honeymoon phase of new baby life, I can already tell you that for me, transitioning from one to two kids is way easier than from zero to one.

 

At the beginning of my journey as a new mom, I really struggled to find time to take care of myself. My exercise was sporadic, my nutrition about as ad hoc as it gets.

The adjustment to momlife required lots of trial and error until I finally found my stride—and of course once I felt like I’d ‘made it,’ I got pregnant again. (Note to self: what were you thinking?).

So this time is my do-over. I get to start from scratch, again, and to my own surprise I’m really excited to do that. To see what I can achieve knowing where I might like to end up. To discover what new reserves of strength I have as a mom of two.

 

I’m just starting to exercise again, so while I’m ramping up my physical activity, here’s how I’m taking better care of myself:

I’m giving myself a kick start with the Sparkling Detox

 

I’m participating in the Gerolsteiner Sparkling Detox for the third year in a row (!!) to help me temper some habits I picked up during my bonus 10 days of pregnancy, when I was sure it would never, ever end.

 

Those habits are fine in moderation, but I don’t want too much cold brew, lemonade, and red vines to become my new normal.

The Sparkling Detox is something I do every year, and its genius lies in its simplicity: you replace all beverages for a week with Gerolsteiner Sparkling Mineral Water. It’s fun—who doesn’t love sparkling water?—and an easy way to hit reset on any habits that are keeping you from your most hydrated self.

This year, Gerolsteiner’s Sparkling Detox happens from August 27-31.

Register here and you’ll be automatically entered to win a case of Gerolsteiner!

I’m making food really, really easy

 

 

During that week where I’ll be replacing all my beverages with Gerolsteiner, I’ll also be making my food very predictable. Boring, if you will. As a person who will happily eat the same thing day after day, this makes sense for me.

I’m planning out my meals to basically have the same thing every day for a week, so there’s no decision fatigue around figuring out breakfast or lunch. Formulaic eating for the win.

 

I’ll choose boring over exciting any day of the week, as long as it means I’m nourishing myself in a healthy way. Breastfeeding can be so depleting, and it’s doubly essential that I take care of my whole self so that I can in turn take care of my kids.

I’m finding new ways to calm my nerves

Lack of sleep and general stress has a way of taking a toll on your nerves—at least, I find that I need extra help calming down anxiety and stress these days.

 

 

And magnesium, it turns out, is key for a healthy nervous system. A liter of Gerolsteiner contains 25% of the daily recommended dose of magnesium, plus 348 mg of calcium and 1800 mg of bicarbonate, so my water intake is truly working overtime to help me be healthy. Since magnesium supports healthy energy metabolism, muscle function, and nervous system function, I’m optimistic that my sparkling detox experience will also help me feel more relaxed and more on top of my game.

 

I love finding ways to multitask on taking care of myself – I’m such a sucker for efficiencies – so getting hydrated and getting chilled out at the same time sounds pretty darn amazing. Yes please and thank you.

You can join me and the whole sweat pink community in the sparkling detox, even if you’re not starting from scratch like I am. Just enter to win a free case of Gerolsteiner here to make it even easier to sparkle. Or find Gerolsteiner near you (Austin friends, Central Market definitely has!)

Let’s sparkle together, shall we? 🙂

On patience

On Father’s Day, I watched my two year old “help” my dad assemble a shelving unit. Her busy little toddler hands sought out the parts he requested, lost half of them on the journey from her grasp to his, and scattered shreds of packaging and packing tape around the room.

A task that would have taken him 10 minutes ballooned into over an hour of this Sunday afternoon, while he taught her the names for various pieces and tools she found and lost.

His patience with her was as revelatory as it was familiar: I have so many childhood memories of assembling furniture or painting walls or completing other household tasks with my dad when the process was the whole point. I always felt like a valuable contributor, a BIG helper, and never like I was burdening or detouring from the finish line.

That incredible patience, too, feels uniquely foreign: if I had to identify my defining character flaws, impatience just might top the list.

The contrast between his tirelessness with that shelving project and my own tendencies was especially striking this weekend: restlessness and anxiety are the mood du jour as I watched my due date come and go, with nary a hint of labor.

No matter how well I intellectually understand that a due date is just a silly guess, that I am still pregnant, four days later, has me on an emotional high wire, second guessing and over interpreting every spark of sciatica and whimper of a would-be contraction.

40 weeks.

Part of me suspects my body is hanging on to this baby because it can’t bear to bring him into this world. Every time I think I’ve hit maximum heartbreak, the relentless cycle of lies and outrage and partisan howling cracks open brand new fissures in my naive understanding of humanity and the nature of progress.

I’m taking a break from the news, and all non-work-related social media. I’ve even taken the long-overdue steps of unfollowing a few people whose posts reliably send me into a tailspin of woe unto the world.

These are steps I should have taken long ago, but in a moment of clarity—thanks to a cleansing, affirming conversation with a friend—I realized that keeping these people as part of my online diet in the name of openness to other points of view was awarding them undeserved power. No longer will these strangers so casually manhandle the levers of my emotional equilibrium.

I won’t step back forever. Stepping back is a luxury and a privilege, and I like being informed so I, too, can howl into the algorithmic void. But right now, I have to chill the fuck out. There’s no vacancy in my headspace for trolls or tribulations. Instead, I’m nurturing my paltry reserves of patience to let this baby boy come on his own terms, in his own time.

Pregnancy insomnia and the power of influence

I bought a jacket online sometime in the wee hours this morning, when pregnancy insomnia had me mindlessly scrolling fashion blogs and then Facebook.

I bought a jacket that I likely won’t wear for nearly a year—something about vegan leather moto jackets and summer in Austin doesn’t quite mesh.

I bought a jacket I didn’t really need because a random woman in a fashion blogger’s Facebook group looked really cute in it, and she happened to mention the brand in her caption.

As I was clicking purchase, the momentary shot of new-clothes-dopamine was tempered by a pang of regret that this blogger, who produces incredibly time-intensive, thoughtful, and high quality content, and who brings together hundreds of women in these community groups, will never ever get any kind of credit for this purchase. To my knowledge, it’s not a jacket she’s ever even discussed on her channels. There’s no affiliate or tracked link to follow. There’s no discount code to apply that identifies her as my source.

Her sponsors and advertisers won’t see my purchase—or undoubtedly, the hundreds or thousands of purchases just like it—as part of her sphere of influence, but it is.

I have so many discussions with clients about ROI. We talk, too, about content quality and follower counts and engagement rates, but at the end of the day, all those conversations are circling the real question at the heart of every sales call and every analytics report: ROI. It’s a frustrating problem, no matter what. We all want to be able to track, end to end, the entire universe of influence, and to be able to identify and measure with scientific precision what actions drove which sales.

Don’t get me wrong: few things make me happier than hearing a client share that our campaign achieved an X:1 ROI. I know that when they report those kinds of results, that that’s just the baseline impact of our work together, because that’s what they were able to track.

Those reports don’t count the prAna sweater I sold to my dermatologist, a full six months after we wrapped up a fall campaign. I watched her purchase my identical sweater on her office computer. I didn’t have a discount code to share with her, and I sure didn’t ask her to follow some (by then surely expired) custom link.

They don’t count the time a personal training client asked Tasha from Hip Healthy Chick about her Momentum Jewelry bracelet. Tasha took hers off, gave it to the client, and the client went on to purchase another. Untrackable.

It doesn’t count the time an woman in our community brought homemade protein powder energy balls to a friend’s house, and in that moment transformed her friend into a brand loyalist. Untrackable.

It doesn’t count all the people who have bought the same Sparkle Skirt Toni wears for many of her races—she recommends it to everyone on her running team and gets questions about it constantly. Untrackable.

It doesn’t count the number of coworkers in Vicki’s engineering office who have downloaded the C25K app on her recommendation. Untrackable.

It doesn’t count all the times the extended networks, the friends of friends, the anonymous online audience, make purchase decisions whose trail leads back, in indirect and surprising ways, to an influencer. Untrackable.

These are the examples we know about, and they barely scratch the surface of the kinds of interactions that we all have around products we use and love. It’s why we always encourage clients to think bigger picture: that demonstrable ROI is really fun to see happening, but it’s the cherry on top of a bigger picture: of showing up in organic conversations, being included in evergreen and authentic content, and gaining access to a network of purchasing decisions that, despite big brother’s ever-increasing encroachments on our lives and habits, are as yet invisible.

It strikes me as not uncanny that yet another form of invisible work is largely carried out by women, and that credit and reward for this kind of work are begrudgingly doled out, regarded suspiciously unless validated with black and white line items on a sales report.

Women drive 70-80% of purchasing decisions. Social media users are predominantly women. #MeToo has begun to prove the efficacy of whisper networks; it bears considering that those networks operate just as powerfully under other, less serious hashtags, too.

So: what are we do do about it? I have a lot more to say about this, but here’s the short version:

Brands: treat influencer marketing as marketing and brand building. It’s incredibly validating and fun when you can measure concrete results, but that focus is shortsighted at best. Building a brand and working with influencers is a long game. This is not to say every Jane Smith with a blog is a good investment of your time and resources, but that people who treat their work as professionals and who are passionate about your brand are doing more than you’ll ever be able to see or quantify.

Influencers: know your worth. There’s a tremendous lack of standards around compensation in our industry, and a huge variance in brands’ ability and willingness to invest in your services. Treat your job like a job; choose clients and opportunities for the right reasons; and include those softer measures—such as anecdotes of how your audience responded to your work—in reports back to clients in addition to more traditional metrics like traffic and engagement rates.

These are my initial thoughts, anyway. I used my early morning hours (up at 4am, WHY WHY WHY) to hash out this first draft of a topic that’s been percolating for me for a while now. And then I did a Gixo workout, and drank coffee, and enjoyed the early morning quiet even as I knew it would come back to haunt me later in the day, in the form of inevitable naps.

Is this the ultimate early Monday morning insomniac selfie or what?!

 

 

 

 

Limits are so last year

gixo iamlimitless

When we first got married, one of the ways that I could reliably frustrate my husband was by being overly optimistic about timing. For example, if I was out to dinner with friends and our food hadn’t arrived yet, I’d tell him I’d be home in about 30 minutes. That estimate totally covered time to eat, pay the bill, get another drink (or two?) and of course the one hour plus commute home from San Francisco.

In other words, I was 100% dishonest. It came from a well-intentioned place of not wanting to let him down in the moment: saying “I’ll be home in 30 minutes” sounds so much better than “at least 3 hours from now, and that’s if the after dinner cocktails aren’t super delicious, and if the train schedule improbably works in my favor.” Of course my lie would come back to bite me in the ass when it was inevitably revealed, but that was a future problem that I could avoid for, well, another 30 minutes.

It’s not a respectful way to treat your partner, consistently and knowingly offering alternative facts about your plans.

My habitual tardiness may be a silly example of how well our culture teaches us to fudge or obscure any news that we fear might be poorly received. (Just look at how many women intensely identified with Cat Person).  I know I’m guilty of dissembling to maintain (an imagined?) social good all the time, for matters mundane and trivial.

In recent years, that unwillingness to put others out has manifested more in form of not asking for what I need, because the idea of either inconveniencing someone, or feeling as though I’m asking permission, feels alternately uncomfortable or stifling. And since I’m at a life stage when I need help more than ever—toddler mom, knocked up, full time job—not asking for support means I’m not showing up for myself. I’m putting up walls and limits where they don’t belong. I’m sacrificing my own health and well-being for … what, exactly?

This year, even though all the cool kids agree that resolutions are dumb, I’m using the new year as an opportunity to reflect and reset. This year, I want to reassert myself. To make space for me without guilt or excuses. To ask for the support I need instead of hoping it will be offered.
sweatpink iamlimitless gixo
In 2018, I recognize that the limits I saw on what I could achieve and who I could be were self-inflicted. In 2018 I choose to leave behind those restrictions. I choose to be limitless. The decisions and sacrifices I will make this year will be thoughtful and proactive, not reactionary or fear-driven.
I’m going into this a realist. I know my toddler and my unborn child’s needs will ultimately come first, but from here on out, that’s an approach I choose instead of a condition I submit to.
sweatpink lovetabio
In 2018 I show up for myself, without reservation. Without apology.  Without regret. With honesty. With full presence.  With an eye to the big picture.
sweatpink iamlimitless gixofit
Also, I’m going to stop reading the news so damn much. Not helpful.
This year, in partnership with Gixo, we choose to leave behind all that doesn’t serve us, and to declare #IAmLimitless. Join us for community support in achieving your goals this year, and doing more than you ever dreamed possible. 

 

 

Only in Texas: guns and parenting

The night before Sunday’s devastating church massacre, I learned a parenting lesson that I never would have thought to seek out on my own.

I was sitting around a dinner table with parent friends whose kids are a few years older, chatting about the ins and outs of slumber parties, when the subject of weapons in the home came up. I’m so grateful the conversation landed on this topic because it never would have occurred to my oblivious California-bred self that one of the pre-screening questions for playdates or slumber parties, at least in my neck of the woods, needs to address whether there are weapons in the home.

And not just that question; it’s a good start, but it can’t stand alone. Instead, it’s a conversation that needs to be primed and carefully managed to make sure you feel comfortable sending your kids to another home, and to also make sure potential guests are comfortable in your home. Here’s what I learned:

“Do you have guns?” can be interpreted lots of ways

This sounds so crazy to me, but people will answer “No” to the question “Do you have guns” because they don’t have, for example,  a gun case with 50 rifles, or they don’t consider themselves collectors or hobbyists. That doesn’t mean that they don’t have a handgun in their bedside table or another gun in their truck for hunting. Instead of saying, “Do you have guns?” ask “Do you have weapons in your home?” The question is (hopefully) broad enough to remind them of the various types of weapons that may be stored somewhere on their property.

Start the conversation yourself.

Asking about guns in someone’s home can be a potential landmine, especially in a region where people have strong opinions about their arms and their rights. The consensus around the table was to bring it up yourself, by offering something like:

“Would so and so like to come over for a playdate? So that you know, we do have guns in our home that are unloaded and locked in a safe in the garage.”

Of course that’s a simplified script, but by proactively offering the information yourself, it opens to door to ask in return without putting the other family on guard.

If you don’t have weapons in the home, my friends recommended not saying “we have no weapons,” but instead starting the conversation by saying, “How do you store your guns?” That way, you don’t risk making gun owners feel judged, or that you might not green light a playdate if their answer is different from yours. Of course, non-gun-owners can just say, “Oh, we don’t have any.”

Don’t ask “Are they stored safely?”

Instead, ask, “How are they stored?” The definition of safely stored varies, from “oh, we just keep the one in our bedside table, it’s loaded, but that drawer is so hard to open, no kid will succeed,” all the way to, “we keep guns unloaded and locked in a safe in the garage, and ammunition in  a separate, locked safe with a different password.”

Terrifying set of questions to ask, isn’t it? I admit I was completely in the dark before this weekend about just how fraught and necessary this conversation is for potential playdates.

The next morning, it felt so timely, in the worst possible way. Sunday’s massacre was horrifying, with the chilling bonus of being just down the road from us. And most horrifying of all is just how routine this kind of news is beginning to feel, from the initial reports of a mass casualty event, to the predictability of how it will be interpreted and spun by our leaders and media. We can fill in the blanks of the narrative with just with a few variables: what color was the shooter’s skin? What color and religion were his victims?

From there, the story just falls into place, and we begin screaming at each other over semantics—what kind of gun was used, whether it was legally obtained, whether he’s a terrorist, whether it was mental health to blame, whether the good guys with guns stepped in fast enough, whether now is the right time to address policy changes. Those deeply felt arguments, shouted into the algorithmic void, are just as rote as the mass shootings that keep happening, again and again.

I find the conversations happening online mortifying. How easily our leaders regurgitate the same anodyne statements that do nothing to help and nothing to prevent. How adeptly the reactionary public contorts a tragedy to support its own world views. How quickly we spread memes and misinformation to blame, vilify, retrench.

What kind of sick culture uses a community losing nearly 10% of its population as a catalyst for more violence against our neighbors?

Why can’t we all concede that we have a problem with gun violence in America? That acknowledgment does not invalidate your strongly held beliefs on gun ownership or gun control or masculinity or mental health or immigration or hate crimes or politics or anything else, other than that we have a gun violence problem in America.

You can remain pro-2nd Amendment and still recognize that this epidemic of tragedies is surely not what our Founding Fathers intended.

You can be pro gun control and still engage in pragmatic and productive conversations about how to stem this tide of violence.

Let’s stop spewing bile from our firmly established trenches. Our lives depend on it.