Ultimately, you realize it doesn’t matter. 

Seeing the crumbled probiotic wrapper on the counter today made me smile. Not because my husband succumbed to my constant nagging to remember it, but because I realized I didn’t care whether he did or not. He’s the one that got our daughter up and dressed and fed – and shoot – if she goes without probiotic powder for a day, sister will be juuust fine.

Parenting can be the ultimate exercise in teamwork and the ultimate exercise in battling controlling tendencies. “What if he forgets XX?” “What if he doesn’t do XX the way I do?” 

Ultimately, you realize it doesn’t matter. That he loves her just as much as you do. And you’re both doing the best you can for the tiny human at all times.

The last year I’ve learned to let go a lot. Of “my way” and “Well I heard that…” 

Gosh. How many sentences did I start with, “They say…” 

Who are “THEY,” anyway?

I’m getting better at trusting that children are given two parents for a reason, because there’s way, way more than one way to get things done. 

   
 

Shakeology: a perpetual over-sharer makes no exception.

Stick with me on this one.

Juuuust give it a read.

If it still sounds nutso at the end, then ok.

***

So I talk about Shakeology a lot. Pretty much all the time. I’m a perpetual over-sharer and this is no exception.

YOU ROLLED YOUR EYES, DIDN’T YOU?!

It’s ok.

But since I tend to get a ton of questions from people trying to figure out what all the fuss is about, I wanted to try to answer a lot of those questions together in one place. I know it’s hard (and unnatural) to trust a product you’ve never used or heard much about. There are tons of places to get info and the best place to start is here, but for simplicity’s sake, I’ve combined information from lots of resources to create the FAQ below:

What’s your deal; why are you so obsessed with it?
When I first heard about Shakeology, I thought it was an overpriced scam. I already ate healthy and didn’t want to add anything that came in a shiny bag from a company called Beachbody to my regimen. But after reading testimonial after testimonial, and with an urge to boost my immune system and energy as a brand new mom, I decided to try it. After one week though – of one shake a day – I had lost weight and had a huge increase in energy. I felt like a fog had lifted; like I finally got the right prescription for my vision, only it was for my body and brain.

After three weeks of one shake a day, I felt happier than I had in a long, long time. I had gained muscle, had lower anxiety and was sleeping better. I had fewer sugar cravings and was less bloated. The benefits only continued as time went by. I noticed how the shakes boosted my workouts and that my nails and hair and skin were healthier. I stopped taking my other vitamins and the iron supplements my doctor had prescribed, as well as other medications, and when I had a full blood panel a month later, all my results were better OFF my meds and on Shakeology.

Will it help me lose weight and feel better?
It absolutely can, as part of a healthy lifestyle. When used in combination with a healthy diet and exercise program, it works wonders and can dramatically improve how you look and feel. BUT…it works as part of an overall commitment to health. Meaning, if you drink a shake every morning, but then have pizza or a cheeseburger for lunch, beers every night and find excuses not to work out, you’ll certainly still get the nutritional goodness packed into the shake, but I don’t imagine you’ll see dramatic changes to your energy or appearance.

Does it taste good?
It’s delicious; not grainy or artificially sweetened. My favorite flavor is vegan chocolate. I blend mine with water, ice and unsweeteend almond milk. Sometimes I add greens, or berries, or peanut butter, or peppermint extract…

Why is it so expensive? Because it’s part of a giant corporation?
It’s expensive because – as in most areas of life – you get what you pay for in terms of quality and results. Shakeology doesn’t claim to be the cheapest, it claims to be the best. And for everything you get in one shake (nutritionally) for about $4, you’d pay $41 in groceries, vitamins and supplements. And that ‘giant corporation’ sources fair-trade ingredients, creates jobs in underprivileged nations and prioritizes philanthropy in incredible ways.

From the Shakeology blog: Sure, Shakeology is a bit more expensive than other protein shakes on the market. But there’s one very important thing you’ve got to remember, and that is Shakeology is far beyond a protein shake. It’s a nutrition shake. Designed for people who know they need more than just protein. The truth is, protein alone isn’t enough to make you, and keep you, healthy. Your body desperately needs other stuff like fiber, minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, phytonutrients, superfoods, adaptogen herbs, prebiotics, and digestive enzymes (just to name a few) to run at optimum capacity. You could spend more than $700 on supplements, just to re-create all the healthy ingredients in one bag of Shakeology.

I already eat super healthy and make green smoothies, why would I want to use this?
One big reason is soil depletion. Because of soil depletion, crops grown decades ago were much richer in vitamins and minerals than the varieties most of us get today. So while you may be making solid efforts to consume a nutrient-rich, balanced diet, your food alone can’t give you everything you need. This article gives a scary but interesting summary. Other perks:

  • Shakeology has been tested and certified by an independent lab to have a Low Glycemic Index (GI) of between 14 and 29 (depending on the flavor). This is lower than most fruits (an apple has a GI of 39, and a ripe banana has a GI of 62).
  • Shakeology’s ingredients are derived from whole-food sources. All too often, the “magical ingredients” in other shakes have been isolated from their enzymes and phytonutrients. And when that isolation occurs, those magical ingredients are no longer effective when consumed.
  • Shakeology is specially formulated so all of its ingredients work together like a symphony. While each and every ingredient has a strength of its own, when partnered with the right supporting ingredient, they form a bond that’s undeniably stronger than when they stand on their own. This is why some brands of vitamins are way more effective than others, it’s their ‘delivery system.’
  • Whey Protein Isolate (WPI)—the protein source used in Shakeology—is a very pure form of protein that contains 87% to 95% protein and almost no fat or lactose. On the other hand, Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC – found in many protein powders) is only 34% to 80% protein. So even though a WPC label can legally say “100% Whey Protein Concentrate,” technically that means there might be only 34% protein content in that shake.

Is Shakeology Organic?​​​​​​​​​​
Beachbody has put every effort into making sure that the ingredients in Shakeology do not contain pesticides, are not destroyed in processing, are produced using the best of the fair trade practices and have many of the benefits of what is considered “organic.” You might ask why it is not “certified organic?” The experience of the Beachbody development team has shown that sometimes certified organic does not necessarily translate to higher quality. Certifying something can simply drive up the price, especially with ingredients of this quality and quantity. Beachbody decided to focus on making sure the quality and integrity of the product lives up to the promise, without asking you to pay the premium.

Is Shakeology safe for pregnant and nursing mothers?
I get this question a lot, and am not super comfortable giving medical advice since I went to med school online at google.com. From the website: Shakeology should only be taken by pregnant women and nursing mothers under the direction of their physicians. From dozens of people I’ve spoken to and know personally: I had a shake everyday pregnant and nursing and felt amazing. Bottom line: do what’s best for you and your family, and talk to your doc first.

What if I can’t have gluten/dairy/soy?
The Tropical Strawberry and Chocolate Vegan Shakeology are dairy free, lactose free and soy free. Shakeology is not certified gluten free but is made with gluten-free ingredients.

What is the Beachbody “Bottom of the Bag” money-back guarantee?
Shakeology is sold with a 30-day money-back guarantee. Customers can return Shakeology packages that have been opened and used, even if the bag is completely empty.

Is Shakeology FDA approved?
The FDA does not approve any dietary supplements. Chew on that for a second, will you? Because that is straight TERRIFYING.

A multi-billion-dollar industry of things we consume, for health, isn’t regulated by the FDA. However, the FDA does set regulations and guidelines for the manufacturing of supplements, which the creator’s of Shakeology follow. Shakeology is manufactured in a facility that is registered with the FDA, adheres to current Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and is GMP-Certified by the NSF (National Science Foundation) and the NPA (Natural Products Association).

Are there any chemicals or artificial sweeteners added to Shakeology?
No, there are no chemicals or artificial ingredients in Shakeology.

Should I try it? How do I get my paws on this magic?
A thousand times yesssss. You can comment on this post, email me {jesstaylor55@gmail.com} or visit my site to order.

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CRAP in my coche

If asked to air a fatal flaw, I would readily admit my completely lacking ability to keep my car clean. I panic when I have a meeting where carpooling is involved, because if I’m asked to drive it’s going to be more than a little awkward.

I love my car, and generally am a pretty neat person, but my car somehow always seems to serve as a receptacle for everything in transit in my life. And cleaning it is typically at the very bottom of the priority list.

I happened to look around today, and had to laugh at the truly maddening combination of CRAP in my coche. Let’s discuss:

  1. A 12″ x 18″ glittery sign that daycare made for Lila’s first birthday last week. Falls under: “I really should be sentimental and save this,” and “This thing is huge and sweating glitter EVERYWHERE.”
  2. Four tupperware containers. None stank, thankfully, but gross nonetheless.
  3. An unopened package of Dr. Brown’s stage 2 nipples. No idea.
  4. Copies of Lean In and The Five Love Languages. To freak out valets.
  5. Six tumbler cups I bought as gifts that have yet to be delivered. Sigh.
  6. A cardigan we had to use to clean up a baby mess [insert questionable bodily fluid] and I forgot to wash.
  7. An iPad cover. Note: I do not have an iPad.
  8. A stuffed rabbit and a wooden penguin. Jealous yet?
  9. 45 Bed Bath and Beyond coupons. Yes, yes, they’re good at Buy Buy Baby, even when expired, but why are they so HUGE?
  10. Cheerios. Everywhere.

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Don’t you already have a job?

A lot of people have questioned my decision to become a Beachbody coach over the past few months. I get everything from sarcastic comments to well-intended questions, and everything in between. And it’s ok, because I admit, it’s a little weird.

Don’t you already have a job? 

Isn’t that just an expensive protein shake?

You seriously only work out at home?

It’s a marketing scam, right?

Players, please.

While I’m usually the type that gets defensive about these kinds of comments, for some reason it just makes me laugh when it comes to coaching. I think it’s because the whole thing was as much of a surprise to me as it was to everyone else, so there’s a hilarious irony to it all.

But here’s the thing: if anyone is a freak about health and fitness, it’s me. I have binders of workouts organized in my house. I’ve belonged to every gym there is, and have easily spent a year’s worth of mortgage payments on personal training. I’ve practiced Bikram yoga, hatha yoga, Sumit’s yoga and Pilates. I’ve trained in functional fitness, Crossfit, long-distance running and aerobics. I’ve worked out in warehouses without air conditioning and pristine multi-million-dollar health clubs. I could do 100 push ups at five months pregnant. It’s just in my DNA. That being said, I ate half a container of chocolate frosting on Saturday night, and way too many tacos yesterday. I recognize that health is an ongoing balance and journey, and that it should never take away from living your life.

But coaching? That’s where the story gets really interesting. Those judgy comments up top are exactly what I said before I joined on. I disliked the shiny packaging, the company name, the endless selfies coaches posted in sports bras. It didn’t feel like anything I could get on board with.

And yet, here I am. I started to see the “why” behind the work and I was sold.

Helping others? Check. Encouraging heathy living? Check. Having a ton of fun and learning new stuff everyday? Check. No coach is perfectly trained or magically qualified, but every coach’s unique story gives her something unique to offer others. You don’t have to be an “after picture” to coach. You just need a drive to inspire.

So if you’re wondering what it’s all about…I don’t have fancy certifications. I didn’t get my degree in kinesiology. I don’t pretend to know everything (or even close to everything) about the human body. But…coaching lets me take what I know and love and use it to inspire others. I’m able to connect people to programs and tools that help them improve their confidence and their health, and I get to create communities of accountability and support. I unite people looking for an outlet — something just for them — and help them do things they didn’t believe they could do.

We all just want to be a tiny bit better today than we were yesterday. That’s all.

I know not everyone gets it, nor will they. And I’ll continue to laugh at myself right along with you! But in just five months, I’m amazed at the ways this opportunity has changed my life.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask. I might even get a little giddy.

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The last can of formula (and some emotional purging).

I’m really good at sharing cute pictures of my daughter and laughing as I look back at tough times. I can write about the hardest days and eloquently embrace the lesson or the good parts. But some hard times are particularly rough; less fun to write about and remember. Not everyone is going to agree with my thoughts and decisions, I don’t expect or ask you to. But I do hope if there’s someone out there who needs to hear this, it comes at the right time. I’ve debated sharing this for a year, but for some reason I’m compelled to share this now. 

Tonight we threw out our last can of formula. Lila is on whole milk now and we finally used up our stores. It felt symbolic. 

Instead of the guilt and shame I associated with feeding formula for months, tonight I felt gratitude. That this wonderful alternative existed and was available when I needed it, to ensure my baby was happy and healthy. I felt pride. That I made a hard decision in a dark time and can now recognize that it was the right decision.

When I was about three weeks post partum, the “baby blues,” as they’re so often called, weren’t lifting. In fact, they were getting worse. You know the little black rain cloud that follows Eeyore around? Mine was a little black tsunami. 

I was fortunate to be surrounded with support, but unless you’re the one going through it, it’s hard to know exactly how to help. I don’t know that I can share it all in detail in this kind of forum, as much as I love truth telling, but if you’re experiencing anything you think goes beyond typical new-mom exhaustion and stress, I urge you to be brave enough to ask for help. There is nothing wrong with you. No one will judge you. 

Throughout this early period, nursing was – for the most part – going really well. I was fortunate that we didn’t experience any of the dozens of challenges so many women and babies experience. I produced enough, she latched. Just the usual learning curve. But as the tsunami darkened, I started to resent this attachment I was told I should be embracing.

One day it came to a head. I completely freaked out one of my best friends the night prior when she came over with food, and I couldn’t compose myself the whole time. I was shaky, unable to eat or sleep, and saw no light at the end of the current tunnel. I saw my doctor around this time, desperate for anything that could make me feel better. And fortunately, her office was nothing but supportive and attentive as I sobbed in a crumpled heap, communicating more through nose blowing and sign language than actual English. 

There was no condescending, “All moms go through this,” or “Hang in there, it gets better.” They identified what I was feeling and knew that I wasn’t positioned to be the best mom I could be. It was at this time they asked if I would consider not nursing.
Sound the alarm bells. Were these people…these medically trained experts, who dedicated their careers to  bringing babies into the world safely…actually suggesting I stop doing the one thing I was convinced I had to?

I was indignant. No, I would not consider stopping. I’d never heard anything but praise for nursing mothers, and had been subtly convinced through the mommysphere that formula was akin to lead paint. Why would I give that to this perfect human? I was disgusted.

My doctor’s office was respectful, but did their part to educate me that making a decision that could help me and my baby feel better, and bond better, was not “giving up.” It was not failing. 

They simply wanted me to see that if I stopped, my body had a much better chance of feeling better faster. And that would allow me to enjoy motherhood. 

Without giving you a biology lesson, there is significant regulation of hormones when you stop nursing, more options for medication, and access to better sleep. Things that help in tsunami abatement.

Flustered, I left. Then a day or two later I called my best friend, crying outside a smoothie shop, sweating my face off in the Arizona summer. I laid it all out: I felt weak giving up, like I wasn’t enduring this essential rite of passage that unites good moms. I felt lazy. I felt worried I would change my mind. But I also felt desperate. 

I talked to my mom and my mentor and lots of friends – and was touched and surprised that those who’d been the most committed to nursing themselves, were the most supportive that I stop . I think these mommas, being ahead of me in this journey, had the wisdom to know how hard everything is as a new mom, and that you need to do Whatever It Takes to be the best mom you can be.

So I stopped. I switched to formula. For 11 months.

And I’m blessed beyond belief with a happy, healthy and spitfire little girl. 

They told me she’d be a picky eater. She’s not. They told me she’d gain too much weight. She didn’t. They told me we wouldn’t bond the same way. We did.

So without dipping my toes into the madness that is mommy wars, I want to share that it took a long time to get here, but I am ok with this decision. Better than ok – I’m proud of it.

And while sure, I sometimes have pangs or moments of questioning and wondering, “what if…” I have those in every area of my life (don’t even get me started on my college major), and I’m sure there will be hundreds more of these feelings on the parenthood path. 

I think this whole story supports the notion that when you make the best decision for you, OWN IT. You don’t have to rationalize or explain it, it’s yours and yours alone. 

And moms, we’ve heard it before, but my hope is we can all be respectful of whatever feeding choices we make. And acknowledge that there is no “best,” there only the best for each family. Breast, bottle, SNS or feeding tube. If you’re feeding you baby, you’re winning.  

   

The struggle is part of the story

I used to be the girl who got anxious in meetings when my peers were all furiously taking notes. I would sit there silently wondering what they could possibly be writing down, and what was I missing?? But, since I was in the thick of my must-rapidly-ascend-corporate-ladder days, I caved to what I thought the right thing was, and began the habit of taking mindless notes in meetings. You know, to appear more engaged while being less engaged. This then became a platform for advanced doodling. And I wasted a lot of paper.

But then a few years ago, I listened to an executive coach whose guidance was less traditional. She kind of rocked my world when she suggested bringing a notebook and a pen to all meetings, and keeping the notebook open to a blank page, but to never actually take notes.

This woman, who is wildly successful (and has coached many, many successful leaders), argued that taking notes while someone else is speaking can actually make you look insecure or disengaged.

Find the happy medium in all of this and send me a postcard, k?

My point is, you’ve gotta do what works for you, but after filtering what works for me through the advice of others, I lean toward having meaningful direct interactions with minimal note taking.

I do ALWAYS have a notebook with me though. Shoot – I probably have 10 or 12 half-filled ones right now, between my house, car and office. I’m constantly writing things down that I want to remember: quotes, book recommendations, cards to mail, things to do.

When I do on rare occasion take formal(ish) notes, it’s because something really resonates with me.

This happened a few weeks ago at a regional event for Beachbody, the company my health and fitness coaching is affiliated with. I not only took notes, I then TOOK A PHOTO of my handwritten notes so I’d have constant access to them on my phone.

In typical motivational event fashion, speaker after speaker got up that morning to share a personal story, describe her path to success and how she overcome various obstacles. It wasn’t a new format, but something about this particular event was unique.

Because…None of the presenters gave out magic advice. There was no secret sauce, rules to live by, or list of “three simple habits” to find success. No one told me to lean in.

It was quite the opposite, actually. The presenters were forthright about NOT having any answers for us. They candidly shared that there wasn’t one thing different about any of them that allowed them to be successful. That looking back, none of them was cut out for this business if you looked at experience and skills.

Each presenter stated in her own way that the only differentiator contributing to her success was that she kept going. That was it.

She kept going.

When people told her no, scoffed at her ideas or closed doors on opportunities.

When there were really bad, discouraging days, and huge setbacks.

When it would’ve been way easier to quit and walk away.

She just kept going. And sharing her story.

This simple piece of advice was mind-blowing. I guess because I’ve never really considered success to be an equal playing field. There’s always someone who knows someone, or went to a better college, or was so-and-so’s sorority sister. Someone who was willing to sacrifice more or play unfairly. And to a certain degree, success is never a truly even game. But to consider that maybe all you need to do to succeed is just keep going – to throw away ALL your doubts and just do the next right thing at any given moment – is so freeing.

I am someone who always plays it safe. I take the expected path and make the “right” choices. My venture into coaching is the only area where I’ve ever been independently accountable for my own success without a smidge of a guarantee. It’s scary and humbling every single day, and a lot of hard work, but it’s the most rewarding thing to be a part of. My work matters for the first time. And right now, I’m starting to see that the struggle is part of the story, and I’m thankful that this is part of mine.

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364 days ago

…Was the day before I met you.

It was my first day of maternity leave. I had a week before your due date and spent the day at the DMV with your dad. Their computers went down, causing a crazy long wait, and I had to leave for a while to get food while dad stayed.

For dinner, we went to get sushi. We got a ridiculous dessert called The Ninja (or something equally stupid) and I was full beyond capacity.

A few hours later, my body sent your eviction notice, and by midnight we were at the hospital.

And then we got discharged.

“Not active labor,” was the verdict. Which anyone who’s been there knows is the kiss of death to any remaining composure in a woman who is nine months pregnant.

“YOU MEAN TO TELL ME WHAT I’M FEELING ISN’T REAL LABOR?!” Because I’m pretty sure it felt like an elephant was dancing on my spine. No worries though, I got a sweet Scottsdale Healthcare water cup as a consolation prize.

So we went home, defeated. Dad got some sleep and I cried and sat on an exercise ball all night. I remember messaging with Leslie, Ally and Jennelle, and probably several others in half consciousness, before finally going to the doctor when they opened.

The rest, as they say, is history. Herstory.

You arrived without much of a fuss at 6:55 p.m., and here we are.

Here we are, sitting in your nursery. You’ve been asleep in my arms for a half hour but I’m not ready to put you in your crib. It’s silly, but part of me is resisting bedtime tonight because it feels like a teensy part of the “baby” you will be gone tomorrow. You’re standing and taking steps and gosh darnit – do I have to stop referring to you as a baby now that you can toddle? More importantly, is toddle a word?

It’s insane to think of the events of the past year. The hours spent rocking in this chair. The tears, laughter, fear and joy. The pediatrician visits, frantic runs to Walgreen’s and SO MUCH GOOGLING.

There were moments where I didn’t think I could do this another hour. I doubted myself in ways that felt ugly and dark. But somehow, there was always a light at the end of those hard days.

I don’t think anyone has to have kids. And I know our lives could have felt full without you. Full of plans and things and adventures, unhinged freedom of time and thought. But I believe our souls would lack the same depth and meaning that we have today, because of you.

So I’m sitting here in the dark, writing this on my phone, listening to your soft breaths and reflecting. You always lay one hand on my chest as you fall asleep and there’s something purely humbling about holding a sleeping baby. Even the fussiest, wildest ones are completely peaceful as they slumber. Once again tiny and vulnerable, once again all parts baby.

We’ve gone through a lot this year, and always done our very best. Never perfect, but always better one day to the next.

Happy almost birthday, sweet girl.