Ancestral Parenting Part 1: Preconception

Welcome to the Ancestral Parenting series. Find the introduction article to this four-part series of preconception through postpartum here!

My first pregnancy happened just before my 24th birthday, four months into a relationship so I won’t sugarcoat it…there was no planning involved other than I wanted a baby, but I was totally clueless! My subsequent pregnancies were planned out so I’ve been in both places. As a Nutritional Therapist now, I wish I knew more before I got pregnant and had to quit smoking, wean off antidepressants, and learn that Coca-Cola doesn’t count as water just because it has water in it.

I’ve come a long way, baby.

Genetics

In this day of genetic technology, it can feel like doomsday when you get that 23andme health report back. Feel free to go down the rabbit hole where you find out you have every SNP for cancer, autism, red hair, twins, and type II diabetes. Oh wait, that’s my DNA report!

If I had known 16-years ago that my DNA belongs on the psych ward, would I have gone ahead and had children? For sure!

We live in a world with a million options at our fingertips. Passing on mutations and stressed out genes to our kids may seem cruel, but there are so many ways to offset genetic expression. However, this is where some amount of preparation comes into play. Once you glimpse the rabbit hole of your DNA test results, you may want to hide under the blankets with a box of cookies and a weeklong binge session on Netflix. I encourage you not to do that and to instead realize that most of those SNPs don’t mean much to you. Knowledge is power as long as you don’t let it completely freak you out.

Epigenetics is a complicated science we’re just cracking open. Heck, I found out I’m 4% Neanderthal from my DNA test. I’m still wrapping my head around that one!

There is so little we actually know about our genes and how they may express even with access to all of this technology. These tests didn’t exist when I had my daughters. What I did have was my intuition and it has guided me through all of my mothering endeavors. I slowly built confidence to rely on my gut about what was best for my daughters. Some of it scared the daylights out of me and I second-guessed myself every minute, especially when it seemed like relatives and friends were telling me I was wrong. I know now that 100% of the time my intuition was spot on and the only time it didn’t work was when I didn’t act on it.

The final note on genetics is that we can look to our mothers and our grandmothers for clues about our own DNA since their genes for reproduction are passed on to us. This too isn’t the whole picture, but it’s a starting place.

 

Nutrition

With or without genetic information, I would advise others to seriously consider your diet for pregnancy planning. I was in my last trimester when I left the medical care of an OB/GYN and moved to a Certified Professional Midwife for my homebirth. The first visit with Charlie went something like this: “If you don’t clean up your diet, I can’t be your midwife.” I really, really wanted a homebirth so I listened and let her knowledge sink in.

While I’m a little (a lot) embarrassed to say that I ate a cheeseburger and fries from a fast food place the night I went into labor, it was Charlie’s loving care and attention that evolved inside of me. I owe her for my eventual passion about healthy eating and my now title of Nutritional Therapy Practitioner.

The mainstream docs I worked with didn’t have the first clue about eating for pregnancy. While I firmly believe that a woman should choose the practitioner she is most comfortable with to guide her through her pregnancy and eventual delivery, she should also know that obstetricians know very little about nutrition and what they do know or the nutritionists they outsource to are using the USDA guidelines for pregnant women. These guidelines are not optimal for growing tiny humans.

If you choose to be under the care of one of these physicians, outsource your nutrition knowledge. Doctors specialize in medicine, not holistic health. You have the power to create a holistic pregnancy by deciding who to hire to meet your pregnancy needs and that could be an entire team of folks including your doc, nutritional therapist, body workers for stress, and maybe even a doula for your birth. But we’ll get to all of that!

Stress Management

Speaking of stress…

I almost can’t believe I’m typing this, but perhaps even more than nutrition, stress management is basically everything when planning your pregnancy.

Have you ever had a friend or known of someone who was deemed infertile and chose to adopt? Next thing you know, their new child joins the family and shortly after, mama is knocked up. That’s because the stress of the infertility is removed and her body says “Oh I’m good now, let’s get baking!”

 

It’s not that simple of course, because if it was, the infertility business wouldn’t be rolling in the dough and folks wouldn’t be taking second mortgages out on their houses to get pregnant.

Chronic stress is a disaster for baby making in many people. If you are super stressed out now, and I mean like your hair is practically falling out, it doesn’t mean you won’t be able to easily get pregnant. What it does mean is that you want to get on top of that stress before you do have a tiny human in you…because your stress is your baby’s stress.

If you are currently facing infertility, first of all…so many big, giant hugs to you. This experience is one of the most stress-inducing struggles a woman can face. I would encourage you to make a commitment to uncovering the sources of all of your stress and getting it managed. Often times when women are going through infertility, they lose sight of themselves in the process and become hyper-focused on getting pregnant. Stress management is the key to helping you navigate your way through this difficult time.

Want to know where to begin when it comes to all things stress management? I’ve created just the thing for you! Reclaim Your Power: The Ultimate Guide to Self-Care is free. It includes a deeper understanding of what is causing our stress and what our stress is causing, plus worksheets to start practicing daily self-care. Grab your copy here!

Thank you for reading and please share your own experiences as they relate to pre-pregnancy planning.


Ancestral Parenting Series: Preconception to Postpartum

If you’re a woman who is thinking that you may want to have children soon or down the road, I’m glad you’ve landed here! Nearly 16-years ago, when I myself was only 24, a lovely, plump ten-pound baby was put to my chest and all I could think was, “I have no idea what I’m doing and now I have a tiny human who relies on me for her everything??”

That baby girl is now preparing for early college and I still feel guilty for not knowing she was clinically blind until she was six. When she got her glasses, the first thing she said was “that’s what leaves look like?”

Go right ahead and hand over my mother of the year award.

That’s pretty much what you can expect from parenthood. Even with all its guilt and challenges, there is no thing in this great big world I’d rather be doing.

I’ve had some time to reflect on what has worked for our family and what we could have done without. This is the disclaimer portion of the article: None of what I share going forward is intended to be judgmental or steer anyone in any direction of how to raise their offspring. It is not professional advice and it is up to each individual to make decisions about what is best for their body and medical care.

 

 

Before I got pregnant, I had very few resources that supported the way I intuitively wanted to raise my children. While the resources are abundant now, thanks to the interwebs, I want to share my personal journey of making babies (I’ll leave out the TMI) and having babies and my now professional journey of helping other women start their lives as mothers.

When I became pregnant in 2000, I didn’t know there was a movement of women to reconnect to ancestral ways in parenting. Years before I was pregnant, I knew that when I watched The Baby Story on TLC I liked the calming, peaceful water births that women had at home and I didn’t connect with the idea of a hospital birth.

Just weeks before I found out I was pregnant, I met a woman who had those peaceful water births in her home. As soon as I saw those two pink lines on that rainy November night, I knew she would be my natural parenting guru.

Years after all my babies were born, I delved into the ancestral health community. The way I’d been parenting finally connected to these new discoveries for me: nutrition, sleep, stress management, mindfulness, movement, digestion, and community. I realized quickly why I love the ancestral health community so much. It was the missing piece to the ancestor puzzle I’d been putting together my entire life.

 

Ancestral Parenting versus Attachment Parenting

This is my personal version of modern-day parenting through an ancestral lens and not everything falls under the scope of attachment parenting. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that you have to navigate your way to what intuitively feels right for you and your family.

My early parenting was black and white and that thinking led me to experience a great deal of perfectionism and need to be the best attachment parent there was. Here’s the thing, tribes who practice what “attachment parenting” is created after have an entire tribe to support them! You and I, my friend, do not.

Unfortunately, becoming mothers tends to trigger old childhood wounds of not being good enough that we have trapped inside. My version of Ancestral Parenting is, “take what you want and leave the rest”…especially the perfectionism and the shame. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

Babies greatly thrive under the guise of being attached and I think it’s an important tenet of Ancestral Parenting, but I believe mothers need self-care and support first and that’s far more important to the wellbeing of our children. This is why we need a balanced foundation to start from as we create the template of our parental journey.

That foundation begins with the ancestors.

The story of all the women who came before us is locked inside of our DNA. This story is crucial to the future of our offspring and all the generations to come. For the first time in generations, we are desperately disconnected from the ancestors and their ways.

While I was in no way consciously connected to my ancestors before I began making babies, they were definitely there guiding and protecting me. It’s the only explanation as to how I went from chain-smoking Virginia Slims, drinking copious amounts of caffeine, and eating three fast food meals a day to becoming a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner who had several homebirths, breastfed, and discovered the connection I had with the women who did it all before me.

I am excited to share with you this series of Ancestral Parenting: Pre-conception to Post-partum. It is a four-part series based on my personal and professional experiences. Please join the conversation and let us know where you are in your journey.

If you are ready to get a jump start on your pre-conception planning, hop over here to read the first installment!


Born Primal Episode 76: Robb Wolf, Wired To Eat

This is the podcast I’ve spent the last four years waiting to bring you! My long-time personal Paleo inspiration, Robb Wolf, joins me for a conversation to chat about his new book Wired To Eat!

Robb Wolf is a former research biochemist, health expert, and author of the New York Times bestseller The Paleo Solution. He has been a review editor for the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism and Journal of Evolutionary Health; serves on the board of directors of Specialty Health medical clinic in Reno, Nevada; and is a consultant for the Naval Special Warfare Resilience Program.

 

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Wired To Eat explains how more willpower and better discipline are not the missing pieces to health and fat loss. Our genetics are working against us in the modern world of super tasty foods. In this new book you will learn about neuroregulation of appetite and how hyperpalatable foods can bypass our built in “off switch”, causing us to eat far more than we otherwise would. The genes that made our ancestors successful are setting us up for troubles today. You will learn how sleep, gut health, stress, exercise and community can work with or against our goals of health and leanness.

With Wired To Eat you’ll embark on a program to rewire your appetite and regain your health. We will start with a 30 Day Reset that will normalize the neuroregulation of appetite and help us not only to eat the right amount, but also begin to appreciate simple but delicious meals. After the 30 Day Reset we will use the 7 Day Carb Test to map what specific carbohydrate foods we do best (and worst) with. This will move us beyond  one-size-fits-all dietary dogma and into the modern world of Personalized Nutrition. This system will help us take advantage of the amazing machinery that is our human body by using the latest behavior change strategies and simple biometric tracking.

Wired To Eat includes over 60 whole-food recipes and includes meal plans for the 30 Day Reset as well as for autoimmune and ketogenic diets.

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Born Primal Episode 75: Angie Alt & Mickey Trescott, Autoimmune Paleo

This week I welcome Angie Alt, NTC and Mickey Trescott, NTP from Autoimmune Paleo to Born Primal! With five autoimmune diseases between them, they found their path to better health through the Autoimmune Protocol. Now it is their mission to share this approach through nourishing recipes, practical resources, and community connections.

As successful cookbook authors, they came together to create the brand new The Autoimmune Wellness Handbook-A DIY Guide to Living Well with Chronic Illness!

 

The way autoimmune disease is viewed and treated is undergoing a major change as an estimated 50 million Americans (and growing) suffer from these conditions. For many patients, the key to true wellness is in holistic treatment, although they might not know how to begin their journey to total recovery.

The Autoimmune Wellness Handbook, from Mickey Trescott and Angie Alt of Autoimmune-Paleo.com, is a comprehensive guide to living healthfully with autoimmune disease. While conventional medicine is limited to medication or even surgical fixes, Trescott and Alt introduce a complementary solution that focuses on seven key steps to recovery: inform, collaborate, nourish, rest, breathe, move, and connect.

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Why Men in Power Need to be Better

The first time it happened I was just shy of my 21st birthday. He invited me into his office. I had known him less than a few weeks when he told me to close the door behind me. His office door was never closed. I wondered what the women working in his office were thinking. They surely had seen him flirting with me the days before. I will never forget the cockiness of this man, nearly twice my age, when he looked at me from his desk. I was standing across from him.

 

“You like to have fun. Would you like to have fun with me?”

 

This man, my doctor, was asking me to have sex with him.

 

I was his patient. I was paying him to treat my injuries, and he was asking me to have an affair with him. I didn’t report him, and I allowed him to pursue me, because I simply did not know that I didn’t have to do it. That’s the shame rub.

 

That was the day I became part of the problem. Not because of my doctor’s actions towards me, but because of my lack of action, and inability to defend both myself, and other women who had the courage to stand up to men like him. Because of the years of shame surrounding that experience, and the many more I would have in the future, I felt the need to defend the bad behaviors of men in power. I defended them, to protect myself and the guilt and pain I was experiencing. I thought I was responsible, and in that I demeaned other women who were fighting for women’s equality.

 

I had a voice inside of me, that I attempted to numb out for so many years with drugs, men, wine, food, drama, stress, more of everything because nothing was enough… I now refer to that voice as Grace. Finally listening to that voice happened to be an unexpected and most wonderful side effect of both sobriety and a lot of soul searching deep down into the trenches of my darkest parts. I realized that I was put in a victim role, and my perpetuator knew this. He was in a position of power, and I was a victim. I was not “bad” or “wrong”, I was mistreated by someone in power.

 

Grace spoke to me when I stopped defending the things that used to hurt myself, and others, and started being offended by those very things.

 

This immense change in my entire being has made me reconsider everything I’ve ever believed or been taught. The unraveling of who I was before addiction recovery, a woman capable of allowing men to hurt me and defending those actions, into the woman that has always churned inside of me.

 

How it starts…

 

I grew up being taught that men had power, and they were to be chased, feared, and made excuses for. They would either abandon you, or they would provide for you, but they would hurt you and demean you. Hurt people, hurt people. I also learned at a much too young age that my value in men with power was only in my sexuality.

 

In my heart, I now recognize many things from my past that I could not see before. All men have a responsibility to women, but especially men in powerful positions. The latest statements that came from our presidential nominee, has created a new level of outrage for women. We’re trying to understand why Americans are okay with voting for a man into the most powerful office, when he has an entire history of demeaning and assaulting women! Even talking about his own daughters in a sexual way.

 

In response, women are sharing their accounts of men in power abusing those positions and they are being shamed for it! By none other than….fellow women.

 

Can we see the problem here? Instead of supporting our fellow females, women are, downgrading, and blowing off these accounts of men in powerful positions getting away with sexual assault.

 

Women against women.

 

But wait, there’s more…

 

The most recent account of a man in a powerful position taking advantage of me happened just two years ago! He at one time held one of the most powerful positions in my city. Now he is pushing 90-years old, but still likes to help pretty girls get jobs. I was attempting to find some corporate work to help support my family. It was early on in sobriety and with all of the emotional growth I was facing, I needed a break from writing and speaking publicly.

 

A female headhunter sent me to this man. She told me exactly what to expect from my encounters, leaving out the sexual harassment. Just as she said he would, I was invited to attend a large luncheon with most of the power players in the city. He paraded me on his arm to no one’s surprise. They all seemed to expect this behavior from him, saying things like “… always has the pretty women on his arm.” Instead of discussing job opportunities at the end of the event, he told me I should go to Hollywood and be a model or an actress.

 

Then, as the headhunter predicted, he invited me to lunch at the country club. A couple of days later we met there and he spent the entire lunch asking to see my breasts. The only time he wasn’t talking about what he would do to me if I hadn’t been married, was the few moments he insisted we pray when lunch was served.

 

Once again, in my stunned state of mind, I didn’t leave. I tried to figure out when I would bring up my resume. Where did I squeeze that in? Between his stories of using Viagra with his 50-year old girlfriend or him asking what my cup size was and insisting I not tell anyone about this?

 

He wasn’t senile. He didn’t have dementia. He was an elderly man with all of his faculties. At least with the help of a blue pill, apparently. I knew it was wrong. I knew that his connections and a job were not worth this bullshit. I was a 37-year old mother of four girls. Yet I didn’t walk out on him. I didn’t make a scene in the country club. I endured it. How could I go home and look my daughters in the face, when they asked how my business lunch went at the fancy country club?

 

“Well girls, mommy got groped by a rich, white man who is old enough to be her grandpa today and if you don’t have a college degree and have been a stay-at-home mom for years out of the work force, this is what getting a job looks like.”

 

Instead I said, “The salad was good, but I’m not getting a job.”

 

“Boys Will Be Boys” Mentality

 

Many of my friends are raising boys and I ask them what it’s like to have difficult conversations with their sons about rape culture. These brave, wise parents tell me they do it because they have to. They teach those young men about consent and they drill that meaning into their developing brains. Men who are raised with a conscious know that this climate of sexual assault isn’t “locker room” talk.

 

We are finally having the hard conversations as a nation. They are painful and we are triggered. Women are being forced to hear that we aren’t worthy of men not talking about assaulting us. That it’s a joke and it’s a laughable offense to talk about grabbing our most private, sacred parts.

 

I, like so many others, refused to accept that I was a feminist, or that I really deserved equality. I defended much of the bad behavior we are now reading all day online. I made excuses for the men who used their power to hurt me.

 

I was part of the problem. For that I am deeply sorry. I know very clearly now that women have to support each other. Even if we can’t identify, we must try to see the pain our fellow women are feeling. That’s called empathy.

 

We also have to take off the layer of protection around our own pain of assault and look deeply into what has happened to us. To tell women that reading books like 50 Shades of Grey cancels out their concern of sexual assault is demeaning and amoral. We are human beings with strong primal urges for sexual encounters. What consenting adults do together is no one else’s business. The key word being…consent.

 

This is a time to get real honest with ourselves and our past experiences. It is not a time to say “let’s just stick to the real issues.” If we, as a country, do not see that the demeaning of women on a national level as not a “real issue” then we will never heal and grow as equal sexes who support each other.

 

I am no longer angry towards the men in power who took advantage of me during my vulnerable times. I feel sorry for them. Perhaps they grew up with men and women who were afraid to share with them the importance of respect for all humans or they themselves had never been taught. Perhaps they watched their father’s demean women, which perpetuated a cycle of negativity toward women. Or perhaps they have chosen to act out childhood trauma in this way instead of getting the help they so desperately need.

 

I now have empathy for the men in this culture who have been hurt, and act out sexually defiant towards women. But more so, I have empathy for the women who have been acted out against.

 

As a nation, we can no longer be silent about this cycle of abuse, and demeaning of women. Male silence has to stop. Women will never be equal until men support us, and speak up in support of us. We must talk about these dark, shame-filled corners of our existence. And together…we must heal.

 

healing

 

 

 


Born Primal Episode 74: Melissa Joulwan, Well Fed Returns

Welcome back to a new edition of the Born Primal show with returning guest, Melissa Joulwan, author of the best-selling Well Fed cookbook series and the blog www.MelJoulwan.com, where she writes about her triumphs and failures in the gym, in the kitchen, and in life. Her newest cookbook is Well Fed Weeknights: Complete Paleo Meals in 45 Minutes Or Less (November 1, 2016.)

 

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Well Fed Weeknights will be released on November 1, but PRE-ORDER NOW to get awesome free gifts including:

  • An exclusive meal plan from Mel Joulwan
  • Free grass-fed burgers and $10 off from Butcher Box
  • Free jar of Justin’s Almond Butter and 1 month free at Thrive Marketing d
  • Free issue of Paleo Magazine plus 20% off a 1-year subscription

 

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Born Primal Episode 73: Darryl Edwards, Primal Play

This week I get to welcome my dear friend, Darryl Edwards, Movement Coach, Natural Lifestyle Educator and creator of the Primal Play Method. Darryl developed the Primal Play methodology to inspire others to make activity fun while getting healthier, fitter and stronger in the process.

He is also the owner of Fitness Explorer Training and author of several books including Paleo Fitness and Paleo from A to Z.  His work has been published in titles such as Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Elle Magazine, Men’s Fitness and featured on the BBC documentary Eat to Live Forever.


 

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I Asked a Stranger for a Hug

This morning I went to the store to get this book by Melody Beattie recommended by my confidant. She thought it would be helpful for my current chronic pain experience. Thanks to her I walked away with so much more than the book.

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In the self-help aisle there was a woman sitting on the floor with a pile of grief books next to her. She was on the phone with a woman who had just lost her father. The woman in the store was giving her advice based on her experience of losing her own father. She told her to go through social media and print all the photos of her dad. She told her to write down every single memory she could think of.

It felt really invasive listening to this private, emotional conversation. I walked away a couple of times unable to find my book. I came back and she got off the phone and started crying. I wanted to hug her. But weird, right? I thought okay I’ll just hold space for her. I won’t be weird and hug her. Then she made a phone call to another friend and I realized my book was right where she was sitting. She got off that phone call and I walked behind her to get the book I’d been searching for. My heart knew my head had to do something.

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Born Primal Episode 72: Lenore Eklund, Food As Medicine The Movie

Food As Medicine is a This As That Production documentary film that follows the growing movement of using food to heal chronic illness and disease.  Food As Medicine documents the journey of food, health, community and hope. Soon to be released on Food Matters TV, this film includes interviews with The Paleo Mom, Terry Wahls MD, Mickey Trescott of Autoimmune Paleo, Dr. Julie Briley, Naturopathic Doctor and Courtney Jackson, ND of Food As Medicine Institute.

 

From Lenore Eklund’s personal healing, inspiration grew to create a positive film about people addressing disease with food. There are a lot of negative messages about the state of our nation’s health and diet, and they were inspired by the community of people they found who are fighting back against this downward trend. Food As Medicine wants to reach people who are dealing with disease and don’t know where to start in terms of addressing it through lifestyle changes and inspire them with real stories.


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The Center for Disease Control reports that nearly half the population in the United States of America lives with at least one chronic disease. These diseases are the leading cause of death and disability and are the most costly and most preventable of all health conditions in the country.

It is imperative that we start changing our food culture now. Food As Medicine follows the growing movement of using food to heal chronic disease. From individuals empowering themselves to change what is on their plates to hospital groups administering vegetable Rx programs, we can already see the change happening around us.

Food As Medicine movie trailer from This As That on Vimeo.

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Born Primal Episode 71: Jason Seib, AltShift

You guys LOVE when Coach Jason Seib stops by Born Primal, so you’re in for a treat this week! Jason stopped by for a conversation about his new program that’s taking over the Ancestral Health Community, AltShift.

Jason Seib is creator of the popular AltShift Diet, the author of The Paleo Coach, co-host of the popular JASSA Podcast, founder and co-owner of AltShift Fitness and Fat Loss, a successful small gym in the Portland, Oregon area, as well as founder and co-owner of JassaFIT.com, an on-line training site and community.

He speaks on the subject of fat loss regularly, delivering his Sustainable Fat Loss Seminar around the US.  Jason’s passion is guiding normal people to extraordinary levels of health and fitness. Marrying his extensive knowledge of fitness and nutrition with his love of psychology, he has built his career by helping thousands of people change their perspective and find a healthy, sustainable path to their goals.


 

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