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10 Health & Happiness Hacks For Crazy-Busy Moms

Written by Jessica Williams

Photography by Photo Courtesy of Spread The Health Now

Making small lifestyle changes to improve your overall health and happiness can really add up. Just ask Stacey Capobianco, the Brooklyn-based health coach behind Spread the Health Now and a truly inspiring mama of three (Violet, 3, Sonny, 6, and Lola, 8), whom we first heard about through our Mother subject Lisa Fine.

After being diagnosed with two brain tumors while 8 1/2 months pregnant with her youngest, Stacey became determined to change her life for the better. While living a clean, healthy life was always an interest, after her illness, it became a way of being. She studied over 100 dietary theories and practical lifestyle management techniques at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition to become a health coach, and now counsels clients on everything from their food, stress, sleep, and exercise habits to their home environment, partnering with them to make holistic lifestyle changes that stick.

Below, Stacey opens up about everything from managing stress to getting a better night’s sleep to persuading picky toddlers to try new (healthy!) foods. After reading her tips, you might just realize that improving your own health and happiness is easier than you think…

Let Go of Perfection: “Mothers and women are especially hard on themselves. I’m always telling my clients that it’s not about perfection. Being stressed over perfection is so bad for you. The thing to try to do is to try to meet your goals most of the time and then really let it go and enjoy yourself. There’s this idea of the 80/20 rule that kind of applies to everything, where 80% of the time you’re really doing your best and you’re trying hard and you’re trying to accomplish whatever your personal goal is. And the other 20%, you’re just really enjoying letting go and forgetting it. Completely forgetting it. Keep the balance.”

Try a New Recipe: “Many people think that healthy food is not delicious and that being healthy means you have to live this restrictive lifestyle. Personally, it’s been completely the opposite. As soon as my family and I started to eat cleaner, all the sudden I had so many more food choices. I was cooking with vegetables and spices, I learned how to cook so much better than when I started. Some of our favorite recipes are the oatmeal chocolate chip cookies from Clean Food by Terry Walters, the butternut squash mac and cheese from Rich Roll’s The Plantpower Way, the chickpea pancake from Oh She Glows, and these No Bake Energy Bites for treats and special days.”

Add Lemon, Sauerkraut, and Avocado: “I feel like I run out of lemons every day. I use lemon with my green tea in the morning, it’s in everyone’s water, it goes in every soup, in my salad, in my salad dressing. It’s amazing having this boost of vitamins, it’s detoxifying, and it breaks down your food so you can digest it better. I often make a dressing with lemon juice, oil, and some miso. So, I love lemon. I always put sauerkraut with my food and my kids’ food. That’s my go-to for probiotics. And avocados. We are running out of those in my house all the time, too. It’s a great healthy fat to add on top of anything.”

Give Picky Toddlers Choices: “My biggest tip for kids is to really give them choices. That’s what I do with my kids, all the time, for everything. I think kids, like adults, like to have a say in what they’re eating. They don’t want to be told what to do all the time, especially as they get older. So, I don’t nag my girls to eat certain things. I basically cook everything—or my husband does—and put everything down on the table, so maybe there are three choices on the table and they’re choosing how much of it and what they want to have. But these are all my choices to start. To me, it’s about giving them this ownership and letting them participate.”

Sit Down for a Family Meal: “I know it’s a really busy world, but as much as people can sit down for a family meal, that’s where kids learn so much. If you can, do it on the weekends, or find your own balance for your kids. That’s where kids learn social things around health and where they try new things. They’re watching us all the time.”

View Vitamins as Insurance: “I think of vitamins as insurance. They will never take the place of a healthy, balanced diet, but there’s no harm in them. Just make sure they are high-quality, without fillers. If people want to take a good probiotic, too, for themselves and their children, that’s always a good thing. But, again, I get my nutrients for my family through food.”

Fall Asleep Before Midnight: Eight hours is the average amount of sleep an adult should get, but the timing is important. “The time before midnight is actually when you’re in the deepest sleep, and that’s the most restful and restorative.”

Try Epsom Salt or Essential Oils: Along with turning off all your devices a couple of hours before bedtime, try taking a warm bath with epsom salt. “Epsom salt is an amazing thing to get yourself into the mindset or chamomile tea. I’ve also started using essential oils, like doTERRA, to aid sleep. Everyone’s asking me for lavender in my house. It really puts you into a deeper state. So, I put it on my feet at night. I infuse it in my girls’ rooms, I put it on their blankies. And I swear, it helps me fall into a deeper, more restful sleep.”

Schedule Time Instead of Multitasking: “I listen to podcasts all the time. There’s a guy called Shawn Stevenson, who runs a show called The Model Health Show. How he functions is that he chunks his day. He really takes big pieces of time. And I was like, ‘That’s what I have to do!’ So, I have a day for my clients, I have a day to research, I have a day for my finances. Then when I switch back to being a mom, I really try to be doing that. And to put the other stuff down. It’s a work in progress, but for me, it’s to really try to be into what I’m doing and then move on.”

Get Outside, Especially as a New Mom: “Being a new mom is really hard for everyone. There’s been a new mom before you and one who will come after you. I heard this quote once: ‘Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.’ It’s so easy to look at other people and think, ‘Oh, they’ve got it.’ But everybody is different and you just have to be where you are. We all need breaks. I definitely have had them myself. The first thing I tell people to do if they’re losing it is go outside. Get outside and walk. Fresh air is so important. If you have to bring your kid with you, that’s fine. Just get into nature.”

Make Time for Yourself: “I think it’s also important as a new parent to go out with your friends, go out with your spouse. Remember to have fun. Put the mom bit to the side for a little while because it’s not just about being a parent. It’s about finding a balance, where you are, too.”

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