Sara Gottfried, MD
Dr. Gottfried is a mom of 13- and 8-year-old daughters, a board-certified gynecologist, and the author of The Hormone Cure, in Berkeley, CA.
What’s your favorite parenting tip? Be the parent you want your kid to grow up to be. Don’t focus on the self-criticism and perfectionistic tendencies that our culture promotes.
I find that a square or two of dark chocolate (90% cacao or higher) and the right dose of orgasm help.
What has surprised you most about parenting? Parenting is harder, and has greater potential to hijack your hormonal equilibrium, than anything else I’ve done in my life–particularly if you’ve got the tape I used to have of never-enough, be-the-perfect mom. The Perfect Mom syndrome has a hefty price tag, higher than those cute red Jimmy Choos I’ve been coveting. It burned out my adrenal glands in my 30s, which are those sweet little pencil-eraser-sized organs on top of your kidneys in your mid back. That made my stress hormones go crazy, which left me in my thirties feeling frazzled with PMS, no sex drive, and full of blame toward my husband.
Seriously, I found parenting to be harder than medical training. Fortunately, I had medical training and recognized that I didn’t need an anti-depressant — I needed to change how I eat/move/think/supplement, which became the basis of my new book, The Hormone Cure. We’ve got to re-brand parenting without the unattainable, unsustainable Perfect Mom aspiration, and shift into the “Good Enough” mom from our cells to soul. That corrects your hormones. A little omega 3–say 2000 mg per day–helps too.
How do you get your kids to eat healthy food? This is an ongoing challenge. My kids gag at kale, and they run for cover when I start talking beet greens. My older daughter is adventuresome and will try anything; she’s not a problem. I fed her quite a varied mix of vegetables when she was a baby. I did the same thing with my younger daughter when she was a baby, but she had other ideas. Her favorite food color is white or tan. The only vegetable I can get her to eat is broccoli, so we work with that–as in bribes. We have a jar of pretty marbles. (She’s a true girly girl and loves pretty things, like me.) When she eats four cups of fruits and vegetables in one day, she gets a marble. Yesterday we went to a restaurant, and she ordered wild Alaskan salmon and steamed broccoli, on her own! I nearly fell out of my chair. She got two marbles for that one. Other, non-bribe strategies never worked with the younger kid. I tried Jessica Seinfeld’s concept of adding pureed spinach to brownies, and my kids were on to me immediately. Jessica, we need to talk about Healthy Eating 2.0.
How do you work exercise into your family’s life? Here’s the secret sauce on exercise: get smarter, and stop working out so hard. I used to go to the gym for an hour five days per week. It was a refuge from my kids. Now I run for 25 minutes with Sprint 8, and do it 4 times per week, which saves me 2/3 of the time I used to put toward exercise (here’s a link to how it boosted my happy hormones:http://www.saragottfriedmd.com/2012/05/10/biohacking-exercise-dose-exercise-rocked-growth-hormone/#). I get my kids to walk with me, and do push ups and wall sits while we brush teeth with that three-minute timer toothbruth. They love a good wall sit with mom! Okay, maybe not the 13-year-old, but the 8-year-old loves to win the wall set. Finally, I’m a yoga teacher, so I fit 5 to 30 minutes of yoga into my life every day. I try to get up before everyone else in the morning and rock a few yin yoga poses, such as a sacral release which prevents back injuries. Here’s a favorite, called butterfly, which I affectionately call “the-all-in-one-MOM-pose”: http://youtu.be/lxbAfrLxGlk
How do you recharge your batteries? I’ve learned from biohacking my own body and the biology of 20,000 women in the past 20 years that the most depleting thing a woman can do is have toxic relationships. So it’s time to do an inventory of all the emotional vampires in your life and remove them, or dramatically improve your boundaries with them. For women, we know that many are “semi happy” in their marriage. You’ve got to work on taking in and giving the love, and clearing your relationship of old resentments. Talk and touch more. Speak your husband’s love language, which is unlikely to be your love language. When I started getting super clear on how to be in a shared narrative with my husband, rather than shift workers competing for limited resources (“I need to exercise now!” “No, you got to go yesterday, and I need to go today!”), a whole new world opened up, and I didn’t need to recharge my batteries like I used to when I was 30 and dumb about such things.
Other proven rechargers for me and most women: really expensive wine. (My motto is: “Drink less/better quality” because it helps your good estrogens not backflip into bad estrogens. Limit alcohol to 3 to 6 servings per week according to a study in 2011 from Harvard), dark chocolate, and green “Hormone Re-balancing Shakes” which I offer on my website, and Orgasm (especially orgasmic meditation). I also believe the best way to recharge your batteries is to know the root cause of why your charge is low — and it’s usually hormonal! Take my free quiz to find your hormonal issues: http://www.saragottfriedmd.com/hormone-quiz-bonus/#
Dr. Gottfried’s Q&As