25 Things That Scare Me About Having a Baby

How can something so tiny fill me with so much fear?

How can something so tiny fill me with so much fear?


Whelp. It's official.


I'm pregnant. Like actually, for-real, now-into-the-second-trimester pregnant.

We found out on our fall trip to Germany and Italy (obviously, the best places on earth for beer, wine, soft cheese and cured meats is an ideal place to learn you're expecting), and it's been a rollercoaster ever since. I'm currently 17 weeks in, and while the initial shock and onslaught of overwhelm tears have mostly subsided...


Becoming a parent is by far the scariest thing I have ever done. 

 
Anyone who is having a kid or plans on having a kid and isn't a little scared hasn't really thought this through. Getting pregnant in the first place can be anxiety-inducing, and often heartbreaking (something I learned first-hand last fall). Pregnancy and childbirth are scary as hell, too. And then after that, you have a kid. Forever. 

Here's just a handful of the things constantly running through my head these days. Just writing it all down made me feel better.


* * *
 

1. Getting my head wrapped around the idea of having a kid.

For pretty much my entire life, "getting pregnant" would've been one of the worst things ever. And my parents learning that factoid? Heart attack city! But after you get married, it becomes the only thing your parents want. And you're supposed to really want it, too. For me, it's like holy shit this is exciting and holy shit this is a lot to think about.

In less than six months, my entire life will be turned upside down. It'll all be new. It's scary. It's exciting. It's scary. 


2. Feeling like I'm not ready.

The other day at the gym, I casually mentioned after class that I am with child. A few of my fellow gym goers, most in their early to mid-20s, were like, "I don't think I'll ever feel prepared for a kid!" I was like, yeah, I'm 33. Married. Own a house. Make a decent income. Have health insurance and literally drive a station wagon... and I STILL don't feel prepared! 

My head tells me, you're not ready for a child, you selfish mess of a human being! But my gut says it's never the right time, and I'm not getting any younger, and don't-worry-about-it-Molly-you're-going-to-be-great. So, bombs away!


3. Not being as excited as I "should" be.

I didn't cry tears of excitement when I saw two blue lines. I did cry a lot, later, because holy shit we're having a baby and life as we know it is over!  But there have been so many times when I totally forget that I'm pregnant, or don't seem to have a strong connection with the baby. Sometimes I feel like I'm broken because I haven't even thought of what will go in the nursery. I don't know about strollers or carseats or anything. And at this exact moment, I don't even care. 

However, I've had glimmers of excitement. Like when we had our first sonogram and heard the baby's heartbeat. I cried then, and not because I was scared. It was happy tears! This gives me lots of hope that once this is really real and really happening, I will be excited. And that makes me feel a lot less guilty and a lot more normal. Also, my husband could power all of Las Vegas with his excitement, so I think between the two of us, we're good. 


4. What's going to happen to my career?

I work from home. For myself. This one-woman company I'm running doesn't have sick days, or maternity leave or daycare. So how is this little bundle of joy going to change things? I just don't know. What I do know is that it's next to impossible to get anything done with a 14-week old puppy in your house, and you don't even have to feed them every two hours using your actual body. So will I have time to work? Where will I find the energy? How do we afford childcare? Is my career on hold? I just don't know and it's freaking me out.


5. What's going to happen to my life?

I stopped going out a few nights a week years ago. I go to bed early, I get up early. My lifestyle is very baby-friendly. But the thing is, I do things when I want and how I want. Yoga at noon? Why not! 

When this baby comes, that's over. I'm on someone else's watch, and that someone else can't walk, talk, or even stop him/herself from pooping in their pants. Want to go out to lunch today? Too bad, I have an earache and am just going to cry about it for the next few days until you figure it out. Enjoy! 


6. My dog :(

Everyone says when you have a kid, your dog goes from being your fur baby to being just a big pain-in-the-ass, D-O-G, dog. I get it. But you see, my dog is literally my bestie and she's already helped me so much during this pregnancy. She slept by me every day for the first 3 months as I shoveled crackers and Coke into my nauseated face. She encourages me to go on walks, even when it's really cold. And she's become super-protective of me and this little human I'm schlepping around.

I can barely even stand to think about how this will change everything for us. I'm trying to be optimistic, but it's what I've cried over more than anything else. 


7. The size of our house.

I know babies don't need that much space, but I still worry about the size of our two-bedroom, one-bathroom place. Yes, I realize people deal with a lot less (heck, I think my grandparents had nearly a dozen kids in a two-bedroom with a bunk bed-filled attic), but just because it's been done before doesn't mean I don't get to stress out about it! 


8. My body.

I saw myself in the mirror yesterday and for the first time was like who is that? My body will be different forever. And I know it's because of this baby I'm going to love more than anything in the whole world... but still


9. Stretch marks.

Let me take you back to Stillwater Junior High School, circa 1996.

I was in Ms. Madsen's health class and we were "learning" about how babies are made. Anyhow, one day she asked the class why we might not want to have a baby at this stage in our lives (8th grade). After my classmates chimed in with the normal answers (expensive, big responsibility, embarrassing, can't hangout with your friends as much, blah-blah-blah), I raised my hand and said, "I don't want stretch marks."

Ms. Madsen audibly scoffed at me, then proceeded to tear me a new one in front of the class. This is serious, Molly. This is not a joke! 

Well excuse me for thinking of one of the actual ramifications that might persuade a shallow 14-year-old to not get pregnant. 

Two decades later, here I am. 33 and pregnant. And guess what? I still don't want stretch marks, and neither does anyone else I know! Riddle me this, Ms. Madsen: if stretch marks aren't scary, why are women swapping strategies for not getting them like hotdish recipes in a Lutheran church basement? We know they happen, but we still don't want them. So shame on you for shaming me!


10. Wearing a bikini while pregnant.

I actually can't decide if I'm scared or excited about this one. I've never cared for my belly, and when it's just a big basketball, maybe I'll actually feel confident in my skin. Who knows, but this is a fear I am definitely planning on facing in the next few months!
 


11. Pre-natal yoga

I'm not sure if my fear of "things geared specifically toward pregnant women" is founded. I am sure it's mostly me being judgmental. But it's just the truth: I fear going to pre-natal yoga (or birthing classes or anything like it!). I feel like the class is going to be too soft, touchy-feely, and heavy on phrases that make me want to hurl, like warrior mama. I don't know... there's just something off-putting to me about it. So obviously I am going to take a class and tell you how it goes! 

I'll probably love it.


12. Mommy-hazing.

You know what I'm talking about. It's when moms tell you all the negative, scary shit that happened to them while pregnant, while giving birth or the crazy, messed up thing that's happening now that they have kids. I don't know why people do this, but I do not like it at all. As if anyone needs more things to freak out about while pregnant! 


13. Becoming a mommy-hazer. 

But what if I start mommy hazing?!?!?!


14. Becoming a "Mommy Blogger."

There is nothing wrong with being a mommy blogger, but I just never wanted to do it. Will I have other things to write about during the first few years I am a mom? I'm not sure!


15. Letting myself go.

I spent my first trimester wearing dog hair covered yoga pants and a frumpy sweatshirt most days. Is this my new normal? Now that I'm feeling better, I've been trying to shower, do my hair and makeup, and get dressed. It's not easy. And it's not going to get easier with a baby. Will I let myself go? Will I even care? Am I destined for a makeover show in a decade? We'll see. 


16. Giving birth.

Scary AF. No explanation needed.


17. Getting an epidural.

Oh boy... what would it feel like to not feel my legs?!?! I don't know if I'd like that! 


18. Not getting an epidural.

I don't think I like this either. Ring of fire!


19. Post-birth recovery.

I accidentally read this post and was like, no way. Read if you dare!


20. Unsolicited advice & judgement.

Apparently, everyone knows everything about being pregnant, childbirth, breast feeding, child rearing and more. I can't wait for them to bestow their knowledge on me!

Wait, wait. Just kidding.  


21. Lack of Sleep.

Last week, I had to get up at 1am, 3am, 5am and 6am to let a whining puppy outside to pee. Dude, I almost lost my damn mind after one measly night. I'm trying to imagine that exact night happening over and over, a la Groundhog's Day, and it is not pretty. 


22. Not feeling connected to the baby.

What if this happens? I know it does happen... so what if it happens to me? Staying optimistic that it won't.


23. Postpartum Depression

And if this happens to me, I hope and pray I know when to tell people what's up, when to ask for help, and when to ask that I be left alone.
 


24. Breastfeeding in public.

I vow to do this at some point if I am able to breast feed. I'll probably have to anyhow. I'm not contrarian by nature, so I certainly would never whip out my boob in the rotunda at the Mall of America (that's so not me), but in a back booth at a restaurant? Or discretely on a park bench? I mean, Hey Eleanor! Let's feed this kid. 


25. Driving a Mini-van

I worried about this one until last week when my husband showed me a photo of a black Town & Country he said he wouldn't mind driving. Crisis averted!


Who am I kidding? I could do way more than 25 of these.


Pooping on the table (I know it'll happen), paying for everything, and simply thinking about the health of my child. I couldn't even bear to give that last one a number, it's just too hard to think about. And then there is the scariest thing of all-- and the thing that makes it extra terrifying is that it's the only thing that 100-percent is going to happen. Right this second, centimeters below my elasticky belly band, there's a tiny human who I will worry about every day, for the rest of my life. 

I will love this person more than anyone or anything, ever, in the history of the world. Josh and I are responsible for helping shape this person. We're going to make mistakes, and this kid is going to make mistakes and do dumb stuff that makes me want to pull out my hair because I thought I taught you better than that! This scares the ever-loving shit out of me.

But I can't change any of this, so why spend any additional time worrying about it. 


Instead, I'm trying to focus on the good stuff: 

  • I'm having a kid with the coolest guy I know. He's going to be the best dad. He'll take the kids to Home Depot and show them how to build stuff and fix stuff. He'll teach them how to swim and ski (waterski and downhill!) and will probably let them get a lot dirtier than I will. A kid needs that parent.
     
  • I am not worried about being a good mom. I won't be perfect, and that's okay. I know when this baby arrives, I am going to love him or her so much that all this other fear [mostly] washes away.  
  • Lastly, there's the thing I'm the most excited about: teaching my kid my awesome dance moves. When they're old enough to think my belting out of Bruno Mars songs paired with my mom moves are embarrassing, I'm not going to stop. That's my job as a mom.

* * *

Having kids is some scary, but amazing business. Here's a few other posts about it: The first (and only) time I ever changed a diaper, what it's like to have a baby in a foreign country, and some straight-talk from an amazing midwife. Oh-- and if you don't want to have a baby, here's why you still might want to quit taking hormonal birth control
 

Stuck in a rut?

SIGN UP FOR ACCESS TO THE #HEYELEANORCHALLENGE!

(plus a FREE copy of 107 Ways to Expand Your Comfort Zone)

Dare: Quit Following People Who Drive You Crazy Online

Are you a hate-follower? I sometimes am. 

Are you a hate-follower? I sometimes am. 


Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Snapchat: I am on all sorts of social media platforms. I mostly follow friends, family, brands and people I like. But I have to admit, there are a few accounts I've grown to despise. Instead of unfollowing, I do something totally unhealthy. 


I hate-follow.


You're probably doing it, too. There's that person from high school who always posts things that are TMI or legitimately insane on Facebook. Or that person who clearly spends hours curating the perfect Instagram photo-- an overhead shot of their [super-trendy brand name] purse's contents all over a table, with lip gloss, a moleskin notebook and something intentionally quirky (M&Ms! A tiny teddy bear! Fruitstripe gum!) placed just so
 

Following some people makes my blood boil. 


And yet, I can't stop doing it! I recently realized I was addicted to scrolling through the feeds of people who lead these ridiculous online lives. There's a woman who always posts photos of herself in a bikini eating fried chicken and drinking a big gulp (you didn't eat that!), a guy who keeps posting inappropriate Facebook updates about his marriage (My wife sucks. Should I get a divorce?), and one woman who live-tweeted her birth (allegedly not attended by a doctor, midwife or doula :-/ ) from the woods. I never comment. I just hate-follow from a safe distance.
 

It's like a car wreck. I know I should stop, but I can't stop looking


And then boom, last week I saw a post from one of my hate-follow accounts. I spent a full minute going through all the feelings I had about some stupid, totally fake-y artsy photo they'd shared. Anger, frustration, and finally wanting to shake the person who posted said photo and scream get over yourself!!!! And then I had a moment of clarity.


Why do I do this to myself?  


So, I unfollowed them. And then I unfollowed their equally irritating girlfriend's account. And then the fried chicken girl. And then birth-from-the-woods lady. 
 

It felt so, so good.  


I don't know why I didn't do it sooner. Yes, actually I do. I fear missing out. I think we all feed off the crazy of social media. It gives us a hit of emotion-- happiness, sadness, excitement and even anger-- that can be completely addicting. I am guilty of it. But last week, I decided I'd had enough. Why do I need hits of frustration and anger many times a day? I don't. So I unfollowed. I already feel happier. And if for some reason I'm craving a hit of hate-follow, I can always just go look at their feeds. Just because I stopped following doesn't mean they've stopped posting. 

Be honest: who are you hate following?


Maybe you should take a break.


I dare you to unfollow the humble-bragger from work, or the person who lives the "perfect" life online (but in real-life, you know it's a mess!), or the gal who thinks you actually give a shit about the outfits she instagrams every day (with a big, fat LiketoKnowit link, or whatever). Hate following, while addictive and fun, probably isn't enhancing your life at all.  


* * *

If you haven't noticed, I think quitting can be awesome. Here's a few ways that you could quit & make your life better!


STUCK IN A RUT?

SIGN UP FOR ACCESS TO THE #HEYELEANORCHALLENGE!

(plus a FREE copy of 107 Ways to Expand Your Comfort Zone)

How to Let Go of Something You Feel Obligated to Keep

Birds symbolizing my real-life lesson in letting go.

Birds symbolizing my real-life lesson in letting go.


Quite some time ago, I interviewed Karen Young, the psychologist behind the mental health blog Hey Sigmund. I liked her site right away because A) the name and B) she writes truly helpful posts about depression, anxiety and mental wellness. Anyhow, one of the things she said really stuck with me:
 

Stop hanging on to what's trying to let go of you.


I think she's probably talking about stuff like a bad relationship (romantic, friendly, or with a toxic family member), a job that's keeping you down, or really anything that's causing emotional strife. But for whatever reason, these words brought to mind something I'd been struggling with for the last 12 years. 

This story begins at UW-Madison, where I somehow earned a degree in journalism and mass communications without sacrificing my partying.


My parents were so proud. 


During my sophomore year, I started dating a guy I'd met working at the newspaper. He wasn't my type at all. A total hipster before hipsters were a thing, small enough to wear my jeans, and an art major. My parents disliked him, most of my friends thought he was weird (he was) and even I was often like what am I doing right now? To be fair, I don't think many of his people thought much of me. 

College is a time of curiosity. You can date a starving artist and a musician and a football player and whoever the hell you want. That is what college is all about: learning who you are as an adult. That and education, of course.

I dated art guy for about six months. He was nice, and we had fun for awhile, and then the relationship ran its course.  
 

We broke up a week before my 21st birthday. 


I did the breaking. When my birthday rolled around, he text me and asked if he could drop something off at my apartment. I said sure. A half an hour later, he showed up with this:

The infamous chair.

The infamous chair.


Yeah, so.

A month before The End, he'd started painting the chair for me as a surprise. It was supposed to be the two of us. He looked exactly like himself. I ended up looking like a mix of Mariah Carey and myself, and not in a good way. I was pretty shocked that he'd given it to me after the breakup, but I guess what else was he going to do with it?


Bewildered, I accepted the chair.


Since receiving The Chair, I've moved six times. I've dated people, I eventually got engaged and married. And The Chair has been there for all of it.  

Do you drop off a piece of furniture with a painting of [sort of] your face at Goodwill? Or throw it away? Or what?! I just wasn't sure. It felt weird to just get rid of it... like when you see people's framed personal photos at a thrift store. Yet it also felt weird to have a chair with a painting of me and my ex-boyfriend sitting in the house I share with my husband. 


As I write this, I see the ridiculousness of the scenario.


I should've gotten rid of the chair long ago. Instead, I bought a seat cushion for it from Ikea and stuck it in our guest bedroom. 

It's not that I was really attached to The Chair in an emotional way (except I did love showing it to people at dinner parties. A fantastic conversation starter!). I never truly liked the thing, though maybe I was attached the gesture? Nobody else has painted something with my face on it, and I sincerely doubt it will ever happen again. Maybe it's like how Sharona feels every time she hears the song, "My Sharona." I was once thought of as so awesome it inspired ART! I felt obligated to keep the damn thing.

A few months ago, as I was KonMari-ing my house, I happened upon The Chair.


It was then I realized it must go.


It gave me no joy whatsoever. It gave me the opposite of joy. And it really, really bothered the guy who I'd vowed to honor and respect 'til death do us part.

I considered repainting it, but quickly ruled out that idea. No matter what it ended up looking like, it would always remind me (and my husband and friends and anyone else who knew the story) of my college boyfriend's strange declaration of his affection. 

Instead, I was reminded of my friend Carter's words. He owns a vintage furniture store and once told me that "any furniture you put in your back alley will eventually get picked up by someone." What I would think if I saw a random painted wooden chair sitting in a back alley? I'd probably love it! I'd wonder about the people on the chair, why someone might get rid of such a thing, and proudly display the odd piece in my entryway or something.  

Before I could change my mind, I picked up The Chair and put it at the end of our driveway. But not before I wrote a note on it and taped it to the bottom.

My college boyfriend painted this chair for me in 2003. We've long since broken up. I'm married (to someone else, obviously) and just need to get rid of it. Hope you enjoy this quirky piece of my history. 

Goodbye, chair.

Goodbye, chair.


Two days later, it was gone.


I finally stopped hanging on to what was trying to let go of me.
 

It felt surprisingly satisfying. I have no idea where it ended up, but it tickles me to think of this weird little chair sitting in someone else's house, spurring conversations about who may have owned it, and how someone could've ever just thrown away something so personal.

But this chair was never personal to me.

That's why it's important to ask yourself WHY you're hanging on to certain things. Who cares if it was your great-grandma's tea set if you don't like it? Or an ill-fitting itchy sweater your aunt Linda knit for you in 1998? If you don't like it, or it's done serving it's purpose, get rid of it! You can't be forced to feel a certain way about a gesture, heirloom or a gift. Even if your face is painted on it.

Besides, that's not my face. It's Mariah Carey's.


* * *

Want to get rid of things? Me too! Here's how I got rid of tons of my clothes (nearly pain-free, too!), plus where to get rid of your unwanted crap

STUCK IN A RUT?

SIGN UP FOR ACCESS TO THE #HEYELEANORCHALLENGE!

(plus a FREE copy of 107 Ways to Expand Your Comfort Zone)



This Week's Best Stuff on the Internet

In case you're one of the six people who hasn't watched this yet, I highly suggest you remedy that. Personally, I'm kind of like, "Adele has a new album. Good for her." I dunno, I guess I'm not much of a ballad gal. BUT I do love Adele the human being. She's so cute and funny and I wouldn't mind drinking five glasses of wine with her. 


Do you love shapewear (a la Spanx)? Trick question! Nobody does. But here are some shapewear alternatives that will have your clothes draping on your bod attractively without squeezing the crap out of your organs. 


I am highly interested in integrative (aka eastern meets western) medicine. Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl digs in to what makes it so great, plus why my home state of Minnesota is a leader in the field. Go us!


Fat pants feeling tight? Maybe your lymphatic system is on the fritz. Here's a few things you can do to get it back in order. 


I am mourning the death of David Bowie like whoa. I was a big, big fan, and it all started with the Labyrinth (if you haven't seen it, watch it!). It's one of those movies that sort of awakened me to all sorts of things back in tween years-- something I couldn't quite explain in my own words, but this BUST article by Ali Drucker states my feelings perfectly. 

And since we're on the topic....


Pete Wells, dining critic at the NYT, gave Señor Frog’s in Times Square a raving review. And I can't really blame him.


Feeling stressed? Here's 5 ways to reduce stress & boost your mood, including a coupon for my secret weapon, 5-HTP. 


* * *

STUCK IN A RUT?

SIGN UP FOR ACCESS TO THE #HEYELEANORCHALLENGE!

(plus a FREE copy of 107 Ways to Expand Your Comfort Zone)

5 Ways to Reduce Stress & Boost Your Mood

Host a dinner party for your favorite people. 

Host a dinner party for your favorite people. 

Maybe it's the total lack of sunshine, temps in the single or negative digits, or that my summer glow has been replaced by a dry pallor, but winter often leaves me simultaneously stressed with a serious case of the blahs. And when I get the blahs, I make poor decisions. Not like spring break poor decisions, but like eating junk, laying around, feeling like a waste of space. Eventually my slothiness catches up to me, pushes my stress and anxiety into overdrive... which often leads me back to the junk food and the laying around.

Every year I make a conscious effort to break through the winter blahs. Here's five ways I do it.

* * *

Try Something New

If you come here often, you know I am all about trying new stuff. Last weekend, I went snowmobiling for the first time. I was a little scared, preemptively embarrassed (because what if I looked stupid?!), and afraid I'd crash or fall through the ice (unlikely on a -17 degree day). But you know what? Spending a mere 10 minutes on the sled left me smiling, feeling accomplished and totally stress-free. I spent the rest of the day walking on air and reeking of exhaust. So whether is motorsports or trying a recipe, get out of your comfort zone and watch your blahs melt away. 

5-HTP

Hello, old friend. 

Hello, old friend. 

Nope, it's not C3PO's cousin. I've been taking 5-HTP on and off for years. My therapist (yep, not ashamed to admit I have one!) recommended it to me many years ago when I was feeling a wee bit stressed and anxious. It's a drug-free supplement that promotes positive mood, energy, and helps alleviate stress by helping body’s synthesis of serotonin. It's also known to boost your metabolism, which I've certainly noticed. But maybe I just had more energy to workout. Who knows. All I can say is that I love it. 

PS If you'd like to try 5-HTP, Natrol (the brand I've taken many times) is offering a $5 coupon here. Learn more about these guys via Twitter or Facebook.

Put the Pizza Down

If I want to feel stressed, bloated, sad and lethargic, I like to eat a bunch of pizza, then wait 20 minutes. Don't get me wrong, I love eating pizza. If I could eat it every day, I would. But if I did, you wouldn't want to be around me (and neither would anyone else). When I eat healthy things, like fruits, veggies, nuts and lean proteins, I am the best version of myself. Happier, healthier & certainly less stressed out. I've found that enjoying a smoothie packed with nutrients in the morning helps set me up for success the rest of the day. Here's a few ways I make sure my smoothies are extra delicious

Get Outside

Go walk your dang dog. 

Go walk your dang dog. 

Yes, it might be crazy cold where you live (sure is here in Minnesota!), but 30 minutes of fresh air boosts immunity, increases happiness, helps you get your daily vitamin D, and naturally energizes you. Anecdotally, I'll just say that taking my dog on a 45 minute walk is often the thing I look forward to most-- after some fresh air, I am relaxed and ready to get back to work, with a smile on my face to boot. 

Host a dinner party

Hanging out with the people I love is literally what gets me though winter. It's rejuvenating, fun and puts me in a great mood for days. If the thought of hosting a dinner party stresses you out, maybe just order takeout. Or subtly suggest the idea to a friend who loves to cook & will host. You get all the benefits, without all the dirty dishes.  


* * *

What are your go-to stress reducers? Oooo I forgot Epsom salt baths! And taking three long, deep breaths. Those are great, too. Anyhow, share your tips in the comments. 



SIGN UP FOR ACCESS TO THE #HEYELEANORCHALLENGE!

(plus a FREE copy of 107 Ways to Expand Your Comfort Zone)

9 Healthy Tricks To Boost Your Morning Smoothie

This berry smoothie tastes as good as it looks. 

This berry smoothie tastes as good as it looks. 


I've been on and off the smoothie train for the better part of two decades. In the 90s, I was so down with frozen yogurt, syrups and maybe some actual frozen fruit (so healthy, right? PS let's call those "smoothies" what they really are: ice cream). These days, I try to pack as many nutrients into my glass as possible. Usually frozen fruit, a big handful of spinach, some cold-pressed juice, and a few less common ingredients. Here's how I gussy up my drink.
 

* * *

Acid

Citrus juice is the salt of the fruits! 

Citrus juice is the salt of the fruits! 

No, I'm not talking about LSD (thought that would probably take your day in a very interesting direction). I mean citrus fruits. I like to think of citrus as the fruit version of salt-- a generous squeeze of juice enhances flavors and brightens up everything. Since I often use tropical fruits in my smoothies, my normal go-to is juice from half a lime (unless your lime isn't yielding much juice. Then go nuts and use both halves). But lemons, oranges and even grapefruit work well, too. 

Mint

The only reason I don't put mint in my smoothie is because I'm out. 

The only reason I don't put mint in my smoothie is because I'm out. 

The only reason I don't put fresh herbs in my morning smoothie is because I'm out. Mint is a go-to lately. I think it tastes great with berries, tropical fruits, and even a banana/nut butter smoothie. Think about where you see mint normally-- juleps, mojitos (super-refreshing drinks, right?) and rich, chocolate-y desserts. It's a versatile herb and trust me, you'll love it all blended up for breakfast. I usually add four or five springs to my drink, stems removed.

Nut Butter

Dear Costco, Thank you for selling nearly everything I need to make delicious smoothies. 

Dear Costco, Thank you for selling nearly everything I need to make delicious smoothies. 

A tablespoon of nut butter adds a rich, full flavor to literally any smoothie. Even if you're like... hmm, I'm not sure nut butter goes with this, trust me. It does. My favorite is almond butter, but sun butter (made with sunflower seeds) also works. So does peanut butter, but I try to avoid it as there's some evidence that peanut butter isn't really that good for you, and so if I'm going to eat it, it's going to be in a Reeses peanut butter cup.

Hemp Seeds

No, you can smoke this. 

No, you can smoke this. 

This is a new ingredient for me, and I am loving it. I'm currently doing an eat well challenge with my gym, and we're avoiding dairy... which means whey protein powder is out. Hemp seeds (Whole30 approved, if you give a crap about stuff like that) are rich in omega-3, omega-6 and offer 10g of protein per serving. I don't personally notice a huge difference in the flavor or texture of my smoothies, but my hubby says they add a bit of a nutty flavor. Either way, a tablespoon or two does the trick.  

Cilantro

Cilantro, not just for salsa anymore. 

Cilantro, not just for salsa anymore. 

Either you're a cilantro person or you're not. If not, move along to the next ingredient. If you like it, you still might be wondering why in the hell you'd add it to a smoothie. Here's where we hold hands and take an imaginary trip to Thailand. Cilantro is a stand-out ingredient in that tropical cuisine, and it pairs so well with pineapple, mango and banana. Add a tablespoon of nut butter, a squeeze of lime and it's like all the good parts of pad thai with some awesome fruit mixed in. I'll take six or seven sprigs, remove most of the stems and toss the leaves in the blender.

Avocado

Before you get all ewwwww on me, let's talk about how avocado is eaten everywhere except north america. We certainly love our guac, and there's few things I enjoy more than pimping out a BLT with avocado, but in many places around the world, avocados are reserved for sweet, not savory purposes. I'm talking ice cream, shakes, pudding... you name it! And it makes sense. The stuff is creamy, rich and basically should just be called vegan butter. Add half an avocado to your smoothie for a boost of good fats, fiber and loads of vitamins.  

Almond Milk

Califia Farms almond milk... or as I like to call it, Wiz Khalifa Farms. 

Califia Farms almond milk... or as I like to call it, Wiz Khalifa Farms. 

I'm not going to get all preachy about why I prefer almond milk over cow's milk in my morning smoothie... especially since I still eat cheese on occasion and drink coffee with half-and-half because it's delicious. But almond milk is my go-to choice most of the time. It's got more calcium than milk (no matter what you want us to believe, Got Milk? campaign!), and doesn't make you fart all day long. My favorite brand BY FAR is the unsweetened version from Califia Farms (or as I like to call it, Wiz Khalifa Farms)-- this one doesn't have any sugar, which is quite notable once you start reading your ingredients. Guys, just because it sounds healthy doesn't mean it necessarily is.  

Basil

Hey! More fresh herbs! There's no better way to make your berry smoothie more delicious than by adding basil. And nut butter. Do you see a pattern here?

Stainless Steel Straws

Get these straws and thank me later.

Get these straws and thank me later.

Not an ingredient, but I bought these over seven years ago and I still use them all the time. Drinking a smoothie out of a straw is way more enjoyable than gulping it straight from the glass. However, plastic straws are pretty darn wasteful (not to mention they're flimsy AF). These stainless steel ones elevate your smoothie experience from basic to awesome. Worth the very small investment. 

*** Super Important Smoothie Tip ***

Since I already have your attention (maybe, unless you quit reading after I my fart comment earlier), I'd like to draw your attention to a conversation that happened between me, my mom and mother-in-law over Christmas. My mom said her last teeth cleaning took forever, and my MIL (who runs a dental office) asked if she drinks a lot of smoothies. Bingo.

As it turns out, if you don't brush your teeth right after finishing your freshly pressed juice, smoothie or lemon water, your teeth get a nice coating of film that takes lot of elbow grease to remove. It also can wreak havoc on your enamel (especially for you lemon water drinkers!). My MIL's professional advice: Brush your teeth with water after ever smoothie or juice you drink. When it comes to tooth enamel, there are no backsies. And while smoothies are delicious, you don't want a liquid diet to one day be your only option. The MIL said she's seen a crazy amount of young people with enamel issues already, and think this may be the culprit. 

So now you know.

What's your favorite smoothie ingredient? The weirder the better (actually, just plain delicious is good for me, too). Share in the comments!

* * *

Looking for more healthy eating tips? Great, I got a few (though I am no nutrition coach, I am a lover of delicious food). Here's how doing a Whole30 will actually make you feel, plus my before and after Whole30 pics. Oh also! A bunch of healthy-ish cookie recipes
 

STUCK IN A RUT?

SIGN UP FOR ACCESS TO THE #HEYELEANORCHALLENGE!

(plus a FREE copy of 107 Ways to Expand Your Comfort Zone)