Episode 5

credit: jiyounglee.space

In today’s episode, Jenn will share plenty of tips she uses for her family, her favorite tools and how she helps other moms feel good in their bodies.

AFTER this interview, I watched Embrace, a documentary on women’s body image by Australian photographer Taryn Brumfitt. I think you may want to watch it too! Here is a link to Common Sense Media’s review (for those of you who may not know, common sense media is a great resource for parents and caregivers about how age appropriate are the media. Since 2003, Common Sense has been the leading source of entertainment and technology recommendations for families and schools. Every day, millions of parents and educators trust Common Sense reviews and advice to help them navigate the digital world with their kids. Together with policymakers, industry leaders, and global media partners, they’re building a digital world that works better for all kids, their families, and their communities). In the US, you can watch it on Netflix.

Here is the full transcript:

Virginie: Hello, everyone, and welcome to What Gets You Cooking, the podcast revisiting the way we look at food, cook it and share it. This is Virginie your host and today my guest is Jenn Middaugh from Mom Bods. She’s going to give us her perspective on food. Jenn launched Mom Bods with Denise about a year ago. It is a fitness lifestyle community designed to help women take care of their bodies and create life changing results through exercise and nutrition. Hello, Jenn, how are you today?

Jenn: I’m good. How are you?

Virginie: I’m doing well. Let’s dive in right now. Can you tell us a little bit about what is it that you’re doing at Mom Bods?

Jenn: At Mom Bods, we’re trying to be a motivating and inspiring resource for moms who are maybe struggling with their own body image after having kids, struggling to make things work, living a healthy lifestyle, but being really busy and tired. And also just trying to make it work feeding yourself healthy food and feeding your family. The same healthy food right? A lot of moms want to be on a diet. But that doesn’t always work if you’re trying to feed your kids the same food.

Virginie: Yeah, absolutely. We all know that struggle.

Jenn: Yeah. 

Virginie: So how did you get started being interested in food, especially related to helping moms?

Jenn: I think my journey started when I was a kid. I really struggled with my body image as a kid and I had an eating disorder starting around adolescence, I wasn’t really brought up around a lot of whole food, I definitely was in the microwave food generation. So a lot of sugar, a lot of low fat, which of course we now know isn’t the best way to go. And then I had all these eating issues. And, as I grew up and got education about fitness and nutrition, and then started working in the fitness industry, I didn’t want people to go through the same things that I went through. I know as a mom that our kids are looking at us ao we need to set the example so that our kids don’t have those body image issues and bad relationship with food that I had.

Virginie: Wow, that’s a very interesting mission. And there’s a lot to do in this area.

Jenn: Yes. And I see it with my daughter, too. She’s 10. And around this age, you already start to see some of those body image issues, comparing ourselves to other girls.

Virginie: yeah, and it does start early.

Jenn: And it’s tough. Right? So how can we establish a healthy relationship with food for ourselves, when we’re going through our own body image issues after having kids? And then let our kids see that and be able to relate to that?

Virginie: Yeah, absolutely. So regarding the cooking aspect of things? I think it’s a balance of things, as you said, it’s not only the food we put in our bodies, but also how we use our bodies, and workout and everything. But what gets you cooking, what is inspiring to you, when you’re in your kitchen?

Jenn: I’d say I’m very whole foods, and I have sort of a paleo mindset. We try and reduce processed food as much as possible and just eat from the earth. Things that are easy to cook. Where we’re not spending a long amount of time. I use my slow cooker a lot too. And then things that the kids can get involved in as well, with chopping foods and mixing and all of that sort of stuff. I know a lot of people say that kids should have a fun experience with food and for some of my family members, that means they should be having Oreos and food like that. But we try and limit that and create fun with food by making our own cookies or cupcakes or whatever it may be. And then we try and reduce the amount of sugar and increase the amount of fat, healthy fats, that we’re getting as we do that.

Virginie: I agree with you. It’s important to have kids exposed early on, so they can get involved and interested in all kinds of foods, not just what’s what’s ready made for you.

Jenn: Yes. And knowing that the work we put in the kitchen is part of it.

Virginie: Absolutely.

Jenn: And try to create an experience around that. So it doesn’t seem like it’s always a chore. But know that you do have to put some time into it if you’re going to take care of your body.

Virginie: And how is that going on? Maybe not daily basis, but weekly basis? Do you think that they help you once a week? or How often would you say that the whole family cooks together?

Jenn: On the weekend. The weekdays are definitely tough with that. But we try and do as much food prep as possible on the weekend so that things are pretty easy to grab and go through the week.

Virginie: Yeah, I think that’s very smart. And that’s what I’m seeing more and more people doing at the moment. I think it’s very helpful.

Jenn: Especially once your kids are in that school age. And you’re sort of running around all over the place, taking them to school, and then after school activities. And there’s not always time to have a sit down meal together for dinner and whatnot. But of course, we don’t want to just let the nutrition slide because we’re busy during the week.

Virginie: So what’s your favorite food or your favorite tool of the moment?

Jenn: I would say we’re doing a lot of the vegetable noodles right now the zucchini noodles and squash, butternut squash noodles, beet noodles. The kids seem to really take to that, especially when I put them in things like last night, we had a green curry chicken that I added the zucchini noodles too. And once they get to that right consistency, they’re soft enough that the kids will really take to them. That’s a great way to get extra vegetables in them.

Virginie: I think that’s a great idea. And I’m curious about the tool now that you’ve mentioned the zuchini noodles. What do you use? Do you make to make them at home? Do you buy them already made?

Jenn: A mix of both. I use this spiralizer on the weekends, but a lot of grocery stores now have those noodles you can buy pre made. And it’s definitely one of those things that, if I’m short on time, I will just run and grab those.

Virignie: Yeah, that is helpful.

Jenn: We also do a lot of smoothies, which have been popular for a long time now. I always add in spinach and or kale, and sometimes some green powders and algae powders. And then mix in and things like chia seeds, hemp seeds as well, you can just put so many things in there that aren’t always the easiest things to get kids to eat. And it’s so quick and easy. Throw everything in a blender, and then that’s meal for the whole family.

Virginie: I think that is very helpful, because you can do it even in the morning if you have everything set up. It’s definitely helpful. I remember the lady who cared for the kids at my oldest son’s daycare, was doing a lot of smoothies for the babies because some of them were really picky. And that was her way of including beets and spinach and all of that. Blend in with bananas. And they loved it!

Jenn: I always found that when my kids were babies, I was surprised more people didn’t use smoothies for their babies. We’re always making these baby purees that have really cooked food for long periods of time. But we don’t seem to give babies smoothies with fresh raw foods in them. Which maybe isn’t good when they’re six months old. But once they’re getting past a year it’s ok to give them more of that.

Virginie: Absolutely. I think that’s a very, very nice and easy way to get more veggies.

Jenn: Yes. And then for anyone to that feels like they’re short on time on weekdays. One of my go to if we’re having a really busy week, is to use the slow cooker. Put some sort of meat, whether it be a roast beef or chicken, add some frozen vegetables and little bit of bone broth. And that’s it.

Virginie: I think that’s also a very good thing to use. At the moment more and more people are using the instant pot. That’s really similar to a slow cooker. And you have so many great recipes now. And, as you said, it doesn’t have to be fancy or take a lot of time. That’s helpful for working moms.

Jenn: I haven’t gotten into the Instant Pot yet, although I’ve seen it around a lot. But one thing that I really love about the slow cooker, is how easy it is in the morning to throw everything in there. And then your house fills with that aroma of the food for the whole day.

Virginie:  Absolutely.

Jenn: It helps to build everyone’s appetite.

Virginie: So talking about appetite, it brings me right to my next question for you. That’s how do you share your food?

Jenn: Within our family? or?

Virginie: Yeah, in general, whatever take you want to take on it.

Jenn: So I would say that we are not very fancy. We’re not big on the way we present food. And part of that is probably just because my kids are quite young still. And I would say that the favorite way to share our food is outside. Having our meals outside and enjoying nature as we are eating seems to calm everybody down. I feel like the kids really get more into their meals when they’re outside. Whereas when they’re inside they tend to be a little bit more rambunctious and running around.

Virginie: That’s a very interesting perspective. Last week in my solocast I was just saying that I was also inspired by that, talking about simplicity, because we went camping. So eating outside and yes, I think there is something to it.

Jenn: Even just that, like when you’re camping, cooking over a fire or, if you’re at home cooking over the BBQ is just seems like a different perspective on food. It feels more primal for sure than when we’re inside cooking over the stove or using the oven. I always feel like it’s a more enjoyable experience.

Virginie: I think you need to take your time. And you really need to, for me at least, think about things in a simpler way, like less tools, less dishes and all of that.

Jenn: Yes, dishes is a big part, right? I feel like on my busiest nights, the dishes can really turn me off from wanting to cook anything.

Virginie: That is very true. I think a lot of people will recognize themselves in that.

Jenn: And then I would also say one other thing that really inspires me in food is that I definitely have a sweet tooth. And I’ve had to learn over the years how to prepare desserts and sweets without using real sugar so that I can stay healthy and stay fit. And then I want to share that with my kids. It’s always a fun experience having things like cake and ice cream with kids. But how do we indulge in these things without  derailing our healthy lifestyles? So I’ve learned how to use a lot of almond flour, coconut flour, using alternative sweeteners like stevia and monk fruit. And as we cook that becomes a lot of our sharing experience with the kids too. When we’re creating those dishes together and finishing them off with things like the sprinkles and all of that.

Virginie: I think that is very helpful. And it’s nice to share those resources. So what do you what do you share with those moms that you’re helping with Mom Bods?

Jenn: We try and share tips that will make it easier for them to enjoy healthier foods with their families, as well as how to fit fitness into your lifestyle. We focus on express work, 10 to 15 minutes, so you don’t have to spend two hours at a gym every day, and you can get what you need through that workout. So then you have more time to do things like spend time in the kitchen or spend time with your kids.

Virginie: I think that’s very useful. I’m following that kind of model for my own lifestyle. So I agree completely.

Jenn: And we’re also just trying to help people have a better body image, especially after having kids, as a lot of us tend to feel uncomfortable in our own skin, and maybe set some unrealistic expectations of what we should look like, or maybe it’s society that sets those expectations for us.

Virginie: Being French, I can relate to that strongly. Being in the US, it’s kind of interesting, or having traveled, more than being in the US, I feel that this is a little bit less strong here. But every time I go back, it is very, very strong. Yes. The perfect woman body that you are expected to get back to quickly.

Jenn: And I think the idea of a mom bod, if we all think about our own mothers, it wasn’t as much of a concern back in the days to be super fit and have all this muscle tone that’s expected now after having kids. And women were a little bit more covered up back then too. But now, we’re seeing on social media, celebrities that have babies and very quickly, they’re showing off their abs. They set the bar pretty high for the average woman when, in that postpartum period, most of us just want to focus on nurturing our babies and breastfeeding rather than hitting the gym and being on a strict diet.

Virginie: Right. So when did you start this business?

Jenn: We’ve been doing it for about a year now. Denise, my business partner, and I were both personal trainers. And most of the women that we work with are in that 30 to 50 age category. And we just see so many women suffering with this bad body image, and really wanting to get to that point where they’re looking good in their bikinis. But it’s almost like we have these mental roadblocks, we’ll get to the gym. And we’ll try and focus on the way that we’re eating. But eventually, we hit that mental roadblock. And it’s, it’s almost a negativity that we can’t get past and we feel so down that we just end up giving up. So we’re trying to give women a more realistic path, so that they can get to that point where you want to get by being moderate in your approach to fitness and nutrition, rather than feeling like you have to go so hard two hours in the gym every day and eating really lean, which always ends up failing.

Virginie: So is that a membership base? Can you tell us a bit more of how it works? And who can join? Does it have to be local? Is it all online?

Jenn: It’s all online, and we have a Facebook page, it’s under mom bods. And anyone can like our Facebook page, we also have our blog, that’s mombods.ca. We will be launching a subscription based service for our private page. Right now we’re allowing anyone to join our private page. So if they’ve liked our public page, then they can sign up for our private page for free. But eventually, we’re going to start the subscription based service for that.

Virginie: And once you joined, how does it work?

Jenn: In the private page, which we call the mom bod squad community, you get daily workout. At the beginning of every month, we release seven workouts for the first seven days. And then you repeat those seven workouts throughout the month. So it gives you that workout program to focus on. And then every month, it changes the workout program. We also just try and provide a community sense within the group. So everybody is working together, uplifting each other, sharing advice.

Virginie: Very interesting. I like that. What is one of the best tip that you have given to those women or that you’ve heard or received yourself.

Jenn: Actually an article I just wrote was about six pack abs and how this seems to be the goal for so many people. To have that nice definition in the abdominals. And a lot of women come into personal training with that goal of the really lean stomach. But this article that I wrote was really telling women that the healthy body fat percentage for women is 21 to 32%. And, at that body fat percentage, we don’t have defined abs. And so many women spoke to me after this article, because they really, really appreciated it. It’s something that they didn’t know.

Virginie: I think everyone should hear that.

Jenn: And we talked about your what it takes to have those ads, your body fat percentage has to be between nine and 15%. And it’s not that we can’t get to that point, but you’re going to have to sacrifice a lot to get to that point. For most moms, we don’t want to make those sacrifices, because we want to be able to enjoy life with our families. And that means enjoying food and not being in the gym all the time. And, even if we can get to that body fat percentage, our bodies don’t naturally want to stay there. So you’ll get there, and then that body fat will start to creep back on because we need that amount of body fat in order to have hormonal balance. That’s normal fertility, and just the maintenance of good general health prevention of chronic disease.

Virginie: Thank you. That’s a great note to end the show today. I want to thank you so much for coming and joining us and sharing all those great tips.

Jenn: Yeah, no problem. Thank you for having me.

Virginie: Once again, where people can join you is on the Facebook page at mom bods.

Jenn: Yes, that’s right.

Virginie: And you can sign up for free. So take advantage people!

Jenn: Perfect. Thank you.

Virginie: Have a great day today. Yes, thank you

Jenn: have a great day as well. Bye.

Virginie: Bye. Bye. Thank you everyone for listening today. If you like what you heard, leave me a review in iTunes or wherever you get your podcast. I’ll share all the resources and the show notes on the website at what gets you cooking. See you next Tuesday.