Welcome to the first of my new series, Momumental Mothers.
I decided to create Momumental Mothers to celebrate women from all walks of life. Each of the women I will feature are different, but they are all united in motherhood.
Today it is my pleasure to introduce you to Rebekah.
I wanted to interview Rebekah because in the last four years she has been inspirational to me. She has created Facebook groups to support and motivate others to exercise and be healthy. She inspired me to become more active after I had my first child and has been a friend who has helped me stay accountable with my diet and exercise habits. As a nutrition coach, she taught me about the psychological reasons behind reaching for certain foods, overeating, and stress-eating. I often see her post-workout photos or photos from races she’s run and think I should be doing that!
I have known Rebekah since we were in kindergarten. I have memories of making chocolate chip cookies together in her Easy Bake Oven and us sitting on my four poster bed under a makeshift tent made of CareBear sheets, singing “We Didn’t Start the Fire.”
When I moved away to a different town after second grade, Beka was the only one of my friends that wrote to me and the only one who I spoke to on the telephone.
I moved back to the same school system before the start of sixth grade and we continued our friendship. Middle school and high school are not easy years, as anyone who has experienced them can tell you. She was always kind and friendly to me and never acted like one of the cliquey mean girls. Her mother kindly crocheted me a beautiful afghan as a high school graduation present, which I still have and use today. Rebekah and her husband, Courtney, are really the only former classmates that I still correspond with.
Rebekah, can you tell my readers a little about yourself?
I’m thirty-seven, have been married for thirteen years and have two kids. I’ve been a high school English/Journalism/Computer Technology teacher for thirteen years and recently changed my career course after becoming a certified nutrition coach.
How old are your children and what grades are they in at school?
Our oldest is ten and will be a fifth grader. Our youngest is seven and starts second grade in the fall.
What do you feel is your biggest struggle as a parent?
My biggest struggle right now is remembering that we can’t control everything our kids think, say and do. I’m learning to let go and let them make their own choices about things and be their own person and occasionally fail to learn from their mistakes, but it’s really hard to do that sometimes.
What do you think your parents did when you were growing up that helped you be a responsible and successful adult? What do you wish your parents would have taught you or given you that they didn’t?
My parents managed to raise five kids! That right there is huge to me. Having two children of my own, I can’t imagine the extra energy it would take to feed, clothe, bathe, attend ballgames for, etc. that many other humans.
I appreciate that they set high expectations for us. We weren’t about to skip a homework assignment or miss a practice–it wasn’t even an option. Another thing I loved is that we played a lot of sports. My dad loved baseball, basketball, and golf and got out and played with us a lot. He taught us so much and even coached some of our teams.
I used to wonder why my parents did or didn’t do certain things, but as I grow older I think my parents did the best they could with the tools they had–which is what we’re all trying to do, right? I’m sure my kids will be like Why on earth did my parents make us eat zoodles?
I try to get my kids to get zoodles too, and it never works. I did throw some fresh spinach into the spaghetti sauce that I made yesterday- both kids and my husband ate and didn’t pick it out. I consider that a win!
How do you handle everyday stressors?
This is an area where I am always working to improve. I have found that I do my best with the little, everyday things when I am meditating, eating well and exercising regularly.
As a mom with more experience under your belt, what are your tips for staying sane each day as everyone gets ready for school/work and evening/bedtime?
Oh, man. I am having flashbacks to when my kids were little and the insane mornings trying to get them to daycare so I could be to work on time. Those were challenging days, for sure! My best mornings were the ones where I got up early (and didn’t hit snooze a million times), got my workout done and was ready for the day before the kids were even up yet.
For mornings, my advice is to have a routine and do as much as you can the evening before. Pack your lunch and lay out clothes–yours and the kids. Make some overnight oats, yogurt and fruit parfaits, breakfast burritos, or some ham and egg muffins early on in the week so you don’t have to think too much when it comes time to feed them.
To make weeknight evenings easier, I’m a big believer in taking a couple of hours on Sunday to make a list of meals and prep as much as I can! I boil eggs, chop veggies, roast or grill chicken or a pork tenderloin. It saves so much time, patience and sanity if you already know what you’re having for dinner before you even leave the house. It also reduces the chance of stopping for pizza, fried chicken or other fast food options on the way home.
A while back, you and your family took time off and traveled around the country, which I think is awesome. I loved reading the blog you wrote to keep everyone informed of where you were and what you were doing. Can you tell me a little about that year?
Oh my gosh. That year was probably the best thing we have ever done. We were both burned out on our jobs and day-to-day routines and knew things could be better. Our kids were the perfect ages, five and seven. We planned and saved for at least a year and then took a leap! My husband and I left our jobs and started our year of adventure with a camper in tow and without a job waiting for us in Oregon. Fortunately, he ended up getting a job in southern Oregon and we found a hotel room with a kitchenette to stay in while he worked there. I home-schooled the kids, Courtney was off of work by 3:00 p.m. most days and we spent our afternoons and weekends exploring everything we could.
We ended up staying in Oregon for about six months, visited family back in Kansas for the holidays and then took off for jobs in Tennessee and North Carolina where we spent our final six months.
The whole year was a learning and growing experience for all of us as individuals and as a family. We came back with adjusted priorities and, as cliche as it sounds, memories we will treasure forever!
How did you become interested in nutrition and becoming a nutrition coach?
I really started learning about nutrition during our year of adventure–because I actually had time to read, listen to podcasts and prepare healthy meals while I was home with my kids–who were at an age where they didn’t depend on me for everything. No more diapers. They could dress and bathe themselves and help with chores. So after our school work was finished, we all had time to do our own thing, which meant play time for them and ME TIME for ME! 🙂 So, I learned as much as I could and discovered just how crazy our food system is and how people are eating what is marketed to them as healthy when it’s actually not.
After we returned from our trip, my husband passed along some information about a nutrition certification course and I went for it! I LOVED everything about the course and learned the best ways to help people make lasting changes to their health. I feel like this is how I can help people best: by teaching and encouraging them to make small changes that add up to big results and life-long benefits.
Proper nutrition is something that I worry about for my children. When Abby first started eating table food I was pretty strict about always getting the proper servings of all of her food, tried to completely stay away from high fructose corn syrup, never let her have juice, Kool-aid, or soda… and then family happened. Now she knows all about donuts, Chips Ahoy, Lunchables, ice cream cones, Happy Meals, you name it- and she wants to have those things regularly at home. Are your children on board with eating healthy?
They seem to understand that eating real food and moving a lot throughout the day are important parts of being healthy. We are constantly talking with them about why we eat certain foods (vegetables) at every meal and why we only eat other foods (dessert) every now and then. We talk to the kids about food A LOT. When we are on vacation and go out for a meal or for ice cream, they understand it’s a treat, not an everyday item. But they’re kids. So they complain about having to eat healthy foods and would probably choose the sugary treat over a healthier option if they had the choice. As their parents, we’ve decided that while they are eating in our house, we make the rules and we buy the food. We’re the gatekeepers! And all we can do is hope we are setting a positive example and that eventually, they will grow up to care about their health and choose foods wisely.
We don’t have cable at home, so Abby was not exposed to a lot of commercials and advertisements until relatively recently. I can tell a difference because now she asks for certain snack foods when we are at the grocery store or she will see any kind of packaging with her favorite cartoon characters on it and think that she needs it. How do you balance healthy meals and snacks with the not-so-healthy foods marketed to kids and advertised in media?
Our kids don’t have access to Nickelodeon or the Disney Channel, so they don’t see as much advertising as they could. However, when they do see these commercials, billboards or signs in the grocery store, we have a conversation. I think it’s important for our kids (and adults, too!) understand that just because something is marketed as healthy, it’s important to read the ingredients. If there are things on the list you can’t pronounce or have never heard of, do some research and see what it is you’d be putting in your body. Did it COME from a plant or was it MADE in a plant? is a great conversation starter.
If they see some dino-shaped chicken nuggets and say, “Mom, we need some chicken nuggets,” we’ll look over the ingredients and talk about ways we can make our own without all the extra stuff.
Another thing I do is get them involved in the meal and snack planning and prepping so they have a voice and some ownership in the process. If they choose it and help prepare it, they are more likely to eat it.
One last question: do you have any suggestions for healthy and kid-friendly meals?
Something we made recently that my kids gobbled up was this chicken pot pie. It was packed with veggies!
You can visit Rebekah’s Facebook page, @squareonenutritioncoaching, where she shares a lot of recipes and ideas. I enjoyed her nutrition coaching services and you may too, so check out her page for more information. Thank you, Rebekah, for allowing me to interview you!
I will be featuring another fabulous woman next Monday, so be sure to return and check out the next Momumental Mother!