IN HONOR OF MATERNAL MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS MONTH THIS MAY, WE WILL BE FEATURING GUEST BLOGGERS AND INTERVIEWS, EACH OF WHOM BRING THEIR OWN UNIQUE EXPERTISE AND PERSPECTIVE TO THE DISCUSSION. IT IS MY HOPE TO HELP EDUCATE AND NORMALIZE THE EXPERIENCES OF ALL MOMS.
Lori Ann Code is so amazing. She founded Mama Bootcamp, a facility in Sacramento, CA that provides support and training for women to reach their wellness and bucket list goals. She's also the author of "[find your mojo] 52 Weeks to Transformation, Inspiration and Fitness". I had the pleasure of chatting with her to discuss the need for accountability and community for women, the importance of movement for the body and the brain, and so much more. Check it out.
CATHERINE: Hi, I'm Catherine O'Brien, a Marriage and Family Therapist with www.HappyWithBaby.com, and today I have Lorri Ann Code here with me from Mama Bootcamp. Since May is Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month, it's my hope to raise awareness about these issues and to let moms and their families know that they're not alone, and I know you work with a lot of moms here in Sacramento and the surrounding areas. Can you tell us a little about you and your passion for helping moms?
LORRI ANN: I'm very, very passionate about helping women, because I think that there hasn't been a lot of resources for women, and people are really--doctors especially--are really quick and easy to slap a pill in someone's hands instead of giving them tools to really, really help them. My passion was born out of a very chaotic childhood, which I think a lot of people who are passionate about what they do--it doesn't always come from good stuff, necessarily. So I own Mama Bootcamp and I've been in business with this corporation since the spring of 2007, and I've been in the health and fitness industry for over 30 years. I started as a personal trainer and a group-ex instructor and now we're franchising. I just wrote a book called "Find your Mojo." It's a guide to transformation, inspiration, and fitness, and I still love, love coaching. I love hands-on coaching.
CATHERINE: Well, I know exercise is really effective for overall mood, and so, in the work that I do, I often encourage moms to get out and get some exercise--even just walking, getting the fresh air and everything. Sometimes, the thing that I'll hear back is "it's hard to get going and get moving." How do you encourage moms to get moving, especially when you're in a place where things are really hard and you're feeling depressed or you're anxious about everything, or you have this tiny little baby and it's hard to get out. What do you say?How do you support them?
LORRI ANN: I really love for them to--what is their goal? I remind them, "What is your goal?" "What do you really want for yourself?" When you're in a dark place, it's really hard sometimes to see that, so to seek out the buddy system is phenomenal. So to link arms with other women that might be in your neighborhood, or maybe people you work with, and studies show walking's actually phenomenal for changing your mindset. There's actually studies that have been done with just 20 minutes a day can actually release enough endorphins to really elevate your moods, even over those who are given pharmaceuticals. Which I love that, because sometimes they are given pharmaceuticals because they're in a low spot, those also have their own side-effects. So to give people--not that people sometimes don't need them, there are people, I'm not saying that--but why don't we first try this and see how this works for you? And then, consistency over time is really important. Camaraderie, the buddy system, setting a time and then not wrestling with yourself. You know, by the time that you've been wrestling with yourself for an hour, like "I've got to go do this..." -- you could've had it done already. So I do always remind them of that, because I think every woman can relate to that. "Okay, I'm going to go walk at 9 o'clock. 9 AM I'm going to go for a walk." -- and then you start wrestling with yourself, and then you're all upset, and then it's 10 o'clock, and it's 10:30, and then you go "oh well, I'll start tomorrow." So "the goal is 9 o'clock. Make a promise to me, as your coach"--that's what I say. "Make a promise to me as your coach that you're going to go. Have some accountability and text me when you're done. And then, honor the time." So if you say 9, get prepped, so at 8:30, you're prepping to get yourself out the door. And then, pretty soon it's like--like do we wrestle with ourselves about brushing our teeth? Do we do that? Body and brain and endorphins are a beautiful thing. Body and brain need just as much attention as your teeth.
CATHERINE: Yeah, and I know I've had several moms that say that "once I got going, like I was just going to go for a walk, but once I got home, I picked up the little weights I had and started doing," so I know it can just lead to other things and feeling better and stuff.
LORRI ANN: That gets me excited! It does. It gets me excited if I get five texts in a row--and they could be texting you or texting a buddy or texting their husband or their partner. I mean, I just think it's really important for women to have a community.
CATHERINE: Yeah, I do this weekly "Mama Interviews," where I have different moms that fill out questions, and one of the questions is "What do you do when you feel overwhelmed, overstretched, or less-than?" So I'm just curious from you, who's really successful--you've come a long way in your business, and so--I'm sure there are still times when you have those moments. What do you do?
LORRI ANN: Oh absolutely--Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays are always like "Oh my gosh!!" What really, really helps me honestly is movement. When my mom passed away from lung, liver, and kidney cancer, and I was really overwhelmed, one of the first things I did was I went for a swim. It washed the stress off of me so I could start to process my feelings and my grief, and I really do feel that for me, movement is key to my life, and that's why I'm in the field I'm in. So I'll either go for a walk or go for a run if I'm angry. Running is really helpful--running hills is especially helpful if you're really upset. And I also do have a circle of women that I also trust, and it's really nice to be able to get it out of you--to talk about it with someone you trust and get all those emotions that you're afraid to share with somebody else. It's really important to have. Even if you just have one person you can talk to, it can be very powerful. So movement and get it out of your body by talking about it.
CATHERINE: Where do you find the women and people you trust in building a community? Because I know that's also really important in just dealing with feelings and the overwhelm of parenthood and stuff if just having a good "tribe" or community. How do you do that?
LORRI ANN: I unfortunately have learned the hard way, because sometimes you look at somebody and say "this is somebody I can really trust," and then you invest in them, and then you find out that that wasn't really the right person to trust and it's hurtful. I mean there's no other way around it. So now, when I get the--I always say that, and I have faith, so this is what I say, "sometimes God first goes 'I don't think that you could trust her. I think that maybe there's a little red--I think that there's something going on here--a little red flag. Maybe it's best to not say your true inner feelings at this point.' And then you keep moving forward, okay? So then God says 'Okay, I asked you,' and is shaking you, and then pretty soon you're getting slapped in the face, and then you go 'that's why you told me not to--that's why I had that inner intuition." I do really feel that women have an inner intuition. I think a lot of times we shut it down. I think a lot of times we don't trust ourselves. I think we always know more than we think we do, and to first start trusting that inner feeling. So, for example, if something looks like a snake, the old me would go over there and start poking it with a stick just to make sure it was a snake, and then it would bite me. So now, I go, "you know what? That looks like a snake. I think I'm going to go over here." That has served me well the last five years, and it's taken me a long time to learn those lessons. So finding my "tribe," a lot of them are women I spend time with--people I run with, people who work for me, actually, are some of my closest friends.
CATHERINE: Oh that's wonderful. So, I know you're a mom. How many kids do you have?
LORRI ANN: I have three.
CATHRINE: So what is one of the greatest lessons you've learned being a mom?
LORRI ANN: Oh my gosh...I love my kids so much. I have two boys and a girl. I'm very grateful. I'm grateful for having a relationship with them. I'm grateful that I can listen to them with an open mind, because we're all so different, and I have to remember I learned my lessons--to not say, "please don't do that." I was one of the moms that was a helicopter mom. I totally was--Mrs. Marris, my first son's kindergarten teacher told me to stop tying his shoes, because he'll never learn how to tie his own shoes, and he was five and a half. And so, she said, "you need to back off and let him grow and tie his own shoes." So I've taken that lesson and I've applied it to other things. Sometimes my kids are going to go through things that hurt them and I just need to be there with an open mind, no judgement and always be their safe place for them to talk--super important.
CATHERINE: Do you have a favorite quote or anything that inspires you as a mom?
LORRI ANN: "She thought she could, so she did" has always been really important for me, because as a mom you're pulled in so many different directions and you're always torn. "I should be doing this," "I should be doing that," all those shoulds. What I have found, because I was a single parent for a long time and pretty much on my own--their dad lives in Texas. So what I've found is that it's really important for you to set an example--what it feels like and what it looks like to live a life that you're passionate about--because if you stop doing things for yourself because you feel like you're not giving enough to your children--I have rarely seen a woman who does not give enough to her children--I have rarely seen that. I have actually seen the opposite, which is why I love working with moms, because I like to be their advocate. Everybody's taken care of, except the mom. The mom can be down on the floor in a hot mess at 5 PM on a Monday having a meltdown, and everybody says "what's wrong with mom? We're all happy." And so I think that it's really super important that she also has her own passions and shows them that "'I'm a person too--I'm not just your maid, your driver, your cook" all of those things. I think it's important for them to realize that, because if they don't take care of themselves and have some dreams and goals of their own, how are they teaching that to their children? Even their daughters, especially.
CATHERINE: Yeah, and I always say then you can model for them how to take care of themselves so they don't get to this place.
LORRI ANN: Absolutely.
CATHERINE: Is there one piece of advice you like to give other moms?
LORRI ANN: To stop putting yourself last on your list. Please. Please stop putting yourself last. Again, going back to modeling that for your children, you're teaching your boys to put their wives last on the list, you're teaching your daughter that she's supposed to be--there's an unspoken value that's taught to your family when you put yourself last on your list. I think it's doing your children a disservice, because then you're raising people who don't respect the woman in the household, and a lot of times, the woman is the hub. She makes everything happen--she makes all the appointments, she knows what's going on with everybody, and it's really important that she does not put herself last on her own list.
CATHERINE: Right. Okay, so one more question. If there's one thing that you wish a woman who thinks they have, or know they have a postpartum mood or anxiety disorder, what is it that you would tell them?
LORRI ANN: They need to reach out and talk to somebody about it. And not necessarily their doctor, because a lot of times it's really good to have a good therapist. It's really good to have a good support group or a "tribe" who can direct you to the right person, because I've just seen too many women who just get slapped a pill and then you don't get to work through whatever's going on with you. And like I said, some people do need medication, but a lot of times--I can't tell you how many women I've worked with who said "I went to my doctor, I told him I was feeling like this, and the first thing he wanted to do was give me a prescription" and she said "and I didn't want that for myself. I wanted help." Some tools. "What do I do?" How about get moving? There's actually a study done on this where they did a blind study where they were given a sugar pill. They did a study on a group of women who were depressed. One group got a sugar pill, one group got prescription medication, one group was put on a walking program, like we were talking about, for 20 minutes a day. The group who had the most perceived well-being at the end of the 30-day study and most improvement, was the group that was walking. So I remind women of that.
CATHERINE: Yeah, so it's like everything--you need the whole package to get better.
LORRI ANN: Yes, absolutely.
CATHERINE: Well thank you so much for your time. Thank you for all the amazing things you're doing for the women in our community.
LORRI ANN: You're welcome. Thank you so much for being here.
Lorri Ann Code is an author, certified life and career coach, a certified fitness trainer and Pilates instructor, and a clean eating expert. She specializes in helping women achieve their highest potential in wellness and fitness through her personalized training, clean eating for optimal health and energy, and life coaching services.
She has been in the health and fitness industry since she was 17 years old and has come to realize the importance of approaching health and fitness by addressing the mind and spirit as well as the body.
In 2016, Lorri Ann published her first book, "[find your mojo] 52 Weeks to Transformation, Inspiration and Fitness".
n addition to her many accomplishments, Lorri Ann is currently a ranked IRONMAN All World Athlete for the 70.3 distance in her age group. An avid runner, Lorri Ann has competed at the 5K, 10K, half marathon, and marathon distances, and is a passionate triathlon competitor. She also enjoys golf, cycling, yoga, traveling, and spending time with her husband and three children.
Find Lori online: