Anna Maria Locke

Healthy freezer meals to prep before baby!

2019Anna Locke
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I’m currently 3 days from my due date, bouncing on my bouncy ball in the “nurffice” (nursery/office), feeling pretty uncomfortable, trying to remain present and calm and go about life as if everything is COMPLETELY NORMAL but gosh it’s hard not to obsess about every little twinge in my uterus.

The cliche “nesting instinct” that supposedly hits women at the end of their pregnancies is so real. All last week I had this desperate need to deep clean the apartment and stock up on food, Ben keeps joking that we’re preparing for nuclear winter but honestly that’s how I feel! As if we don’t live in the age of Amazon Prime and aren’t surrounded by an incredible village of friends and family who will take care of us...the fact that my shower gel bottle is half empty is legit stressing me out and I needed to purge the house of every last speck of dust. Like, NEEEEEEEEDED!!!

Ben has been a great sport about it all and has fulfilled all my deep cleaning whims. I love him!

My mom came to visit a couple weeks ago and deep cleaned the freezer and grossness behind the fridge which was the best pregnancy gift ever.

And this weekend I re-filled the squeaky clean beautiful freezer with several crockpot dump meals and batches of baked goods! This sight literally gives me a hit of oxytocin warm fuzzies, can you hear the angels singing?

Baby Locke, we are ready for you!

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I’ve read that warming, nutrient rich meals are best for postpartum recovery. Even though it’s August I figure we’ll be keeping the air conditioning cranked, and I know I’ll be drinking alot of smoothies too because they’re easy and I’ve been craving them, so all the meals I prepped are frozen crockpot dump bags. The crockpot also makes life easy and doesn’t heat up the kitchen!

If there’s meat involved, it will take a little bit of forethought to partially thaw in advance (for food safety it’s discouraged to slow cook frozen meat) but I didn’t feel up to actually cooking food to freeze. I’ll leave that to our friends and family!

I found my biggest inspiration from this blog post from Eat, Live Run, and this post from Pinch of Yum. Ben’s manager also shared this epic assembly line style crockpot meal prep spreadsheet.

Here are the crockpot “freeze and dump” meals I ended up making! I used a sharpie to write any cooking or serving instructions so anyone else in the house can make the food for me:


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At ALDI we grabbed a couple boxes of bone broth to add to the crockpot recipes before cooking because it has more protein and nutrients than water or regular broth. We also stocked up on dry goods like pasta, brown rice, and some crusty bread to keep in the freezer to serve alongside the meals. I figure we can use Instacart or have my mom or a friend make a quick run to the store to pick up any fresh foods we need.

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The baked goods I made:

  • Lactation cookies 

  • Zucchini oatmeal muffins (increased oat/flour ratio to 1 c oats and 1 c whole wheat pastry flour)

  • Corn muffins (haven’t made these yet but we have all the ingredients and they look easy so I”m going to print the recipe and have it on hand for whoever is available to whip some up to go with the chili and soups)

  • Bran muffins:

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The bran muffin recipe is from my mother in law Pat and it’s one of my family faves. It’s the best because you make a giant batch of batter that keeps in the fridge for several days, so you can either scoop some out and bake a few muffins on demand, or else bake them all and pop them in the freezer. I decreased the sugar to ½ cup because the cereal has sugar as well, and they end up very sweet. Next time I might even omit added sugar altogether. I’d rather bake less sugar into my muffins and add honey if needed. They also have TONS of fiber, which I imagine I’ll appreciate ;)

Pat also made us an enormous batch of tortellini soup and is planning some breakfast burritos, so we have those on deck as well!

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And in the meantime as we wait for my uterus to call time and eject bebe, I whipped up a batch of these raw brownie energy bites because I’m trying to eat as many dates as possible to soften my cervix.

WE WILL NOT STARVE!

Hope this is helpful if you’re prepping for a new baby or want to help out a preggo friend!

xo Anna

How I'm planning for maternity leave as an entrepreneur and life coach

2019Anna Locke
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It’s crazy to be able to finally say that my baby is due next week !!

I guess I’m ready? At least I feel like I’ll be ready if we can hang in there through the weekend, ha!

One of the questions I’ve been getting is whether I’m taking time off work or how I’m managing maternity leave being self employed.

Maternity and paternity support in the US is an issue in itself, but planning for maternity leave as a solo-entrepreneur and first time mom is uniquely tough because there are no established policies or standard procedures to follow, and although I can learn from the experience of my entrepreneur/new mom friends, everyone’s business, relationships, babies, and financial situations are different.

Honestly, the whole thing has given me a lot of stress and anxiety, especially since I am a Type A control freak and like to have everything planned out. Obviously when it comes to having a baby there are so few things that are actually in your control, so the process has also been a big lesson in letting go, trust, surrender, and practicing what I preach as a life coach. Mainly, that breakdowns come before the breakthrough. Oh my gosh SO MANY BREAKDOWNS.

I’ve approached this whole trying to conceive/miscarriage/pregnancy/matrescence season of life as a personal and spiritual growth journey which has given me a really great perspective and allowed me to feel more or less grounded as I navigate the anxiety, emotional breakdowns, hormonal rollercoaster, and the general fears that pop up when you grow a baby.

I’m not really taking an official “maternity leave” because my work and business is an extension of my everyday life, so there’s really nothing to leave from. However, I am making conscious shifts so that I can be as present as possible during the first weeks and months at home bonding with our baby.

I’m thinking of these first few months more as a baby sabbatical than a leave.

Luckily the way my business is set up gives me complete flexibility. But it’s also kind of terrifying to venture into the unknown.

I’ve always wanted to be a work from home mom, so I’m not afraid of navigating work/life balance or figuring out the actual nuts and bolts of WORK.

For me, the biggest stress has been the financial aspect of giving myself time off, while allowing for a flexible schedule and lots of change and transition.

We depend on my income, so I don’t have the luxury of taking an extended time completely off. But I also want to make sure the hours I’m spending on work over the next several months are as productive, efficient, and income generating as possible.

After months of stressing, obsessing, listening to podcasts, crowd sourcing entrepreneur friends, and trial and error, I’m finally feeling good about navigating this next season of business and new motherhood.

Whether you’re having a baby, dealing with a health crisis, or simply want to take an extended time off from work, I believe one of the biggest perks to self employment is having flexibility and freedom over your schedule.

And personally, one of my primary motivations for being self employed is to work to live, not live to work.

Looking back on the last six months, I can distill the whole messy process of planning for self-employed leave or sabbatical into three components:

  1. Mindset work (bigger vision as well as finances and money)

  2. Plan for your return

  3. Creating and implementing systems

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  1. Mindset Work

Vision

Before diving into the “how” and all the details, it’s always important to start with your bigger picture values and vision for how you want life to look and feel like through the changes ahead.

What do you want your maternity leave to look and feel like? Do you want to completely unplug, have flexibility, how much time do you want to take off? If money were no object, how would that influence your decisions? What are your childcare options? What if your baby needs extra care and attention and you aren’t able to follow through on your back to work plan? Do you want to work up until you go into labor, or slowly decelerate and start your leave at the middle or end of pregnancy?

In January I invested in a 6 month spiritual womens’ leadership mastermind with Sara Avant Stover, and with her guidance and mentorship decided that my number one priority for this year was to create a work environment that centered around my pregnancy so I could feel mentally, physically, financially, and spiritually supported through this immensely powerful initiation into motherhood.

My ultimate goal is always FLEXIBILITY. I want to be able to focus on my baby and recovery with no pressure to make money or keep up to date with my inbox. I don’t know how much time we’ll need or want, but in a perfect world I see myself coming back to limited part time work hours by the end of the year, and then working flexible part time hours from there. I’ve always wanted to be a work-from-home mom, to be able to be home to raise my kids while also maintaining a personal creative outlet through work that fulfills me and allows me to make a difference and feel connected to the world.

At first I wanted to have all systems in place, projects completed, and feel comfortable with unplugging the last several weeks of my pregnancy so I could focus completely on resting and self care, but in reality I discovered keeping busy with a little bit of work combined with baby prep has felt the best to me, and has kept me from feeling too isolated or impatient with the waiting game.

Abundance mindset

One major personal lesson I’ve been learning the hard way is that whenever I’m stressed or overwhelmed (which happens a lot when pregnant or going through any major life change), it dredges up all my insecurities and fears around money and triggers my basic survival instincts around needing to feel supported...which in turn triggers obsessive worrying and feeling like I’m not good enough/not earning enough/not doing enough/won’t have enough. 

Some women turn to emotional eating, drinking, shopping, or other outlets when reacting to overwhelm, but I start to compulsively freak out about how much money I’m earning or not earning, even if what made me feel overwhelmed in the first place had nothing to do with it.

So LET’S TALK ABOUT MONEY!

I’ve always had an entrepreneurial mindset ever since I was in grade school, and LOVE earning money by selling things I create or do for others. The thought of my earning capacity being limited by a newborn really freaked me out and sent me down a desperation spiral of “MUST MAKE ALL THE MONEY BEFORE BABY IS BORN!”

But then I caught myself, because that’s a horrible energy to come from!

So when it came down to planning my work schedule over the last months of pregnancy and into the second half of the year, I had to be careful not to be motivated by my scarcity mindset and ego, and instead kept asking myself:

“If money wasn’t an issue, what work would feel fulfilling, supportive, and fun for me right now?”

In addition, I’ve been focusing on a lot of inner work around abundance mindset, and learning that true abundance isn’t just about earning or manifesting more money, but about releasing emotional attachment, and shifting from a scarcity mindset of “never enough//I need to control it” to a belief that money is energy ultimately is sourced and returned to a divine source.

If you’re sick of all the law of attraction//manifesting//just work harder dogma and interested in the spiritual and energetic aspects to money, I hiiiiiighly recommend Tosha Silver’s book It’s Not Your Money.

When we stop stressing out about having enough, our nervous system relaxes and this allows us to receive.

I’ve seen this happen magically over and over. Unexpected rebates, gift cards, hand me downs from friends, Facebook marketplace deals, extended payment plans with zero interest financing, generosity of our “village” of friends and family, we have been supported every step of the way.

I wanted to save more money than I did, but I am trusting I’ve saved enough.

I wanted to have more clients lined up than I do, but I am trusting they will be waiting when I am ready.

I wanted to be able to pay off my credit card balance before baby, but I trust it will be paid off in perfect timing and in the meantime it is a lesson in being ok with a little debt and re-writing old money stories and family beliefs about what it means to be “responsible.”

So most of my work prep for baby has revolved around doing energy and mindset work around my bigger vision, abundance, and shifting into a state of receiving, but obviously we live in the real world and need to make tangible plans as well.

It’s hard to find examples or blueprints of how to structure a sabbatical or extended leave as an entrepreneur because everyone’s business is unique and looks different, but in case you’re curious I wanted to share my plan and how I’m making it work in a way that feels good, which brings us to the next step:

2. Plan for your return to work

I think this is something I heard on the Startup Pregnant podcast and it is a GAME CHANGER:

Instead of getting caught up in the maternity leave itself, start with the end in mind and plan backwards from where you want to be when you plug back IN to work. This way, you won’t feel completely lost when you return and will be able to maintain or build momentum so hopefully your return to work is seamless and supportive.

I decided that what felt best and made the most sense would be to keep my Beachbody business “simmering” through the rest of the year, plan to enroll up to three private life coaching clients by November/December, and let everything else go.

3. Create your systems

This is where the details, strategies, and nuts and bolts come in. What moving parts, ongoing projects, or loose ends do you need to complete or delegate before baby?

I have three sources of income, and would recommend to any entrepreneur to diversify your income streams so you aren’t dependent on any one source.

Here is how I’m shifting biz around so I can still maintain base levels of income, while setting myself up for a successful return to the part-time working world when baby and I are ready:

Beachbody coaching

The majority of my income actually comes from my health and fitness accountability biz with Beachbody, and is about 85-90% residual (subscriptions and bonuses), and 10-15% new sales. I know everyone has their own thoughts on network marketing, but Beachbody has been the KEY to making things possible for me to back off my work hours, because I know no matter what happens, I have dependable income coming in every week due to the organization I’ve intentionally built over the last 5 years. This has been such a blessing and relief!

(and am now required to share the disclaimer that Team Beachbody® does not guarantee any level of success or income from the Team Beachbody Coach Opportunity. Each Coach's income depends on his or her own efforts, diligence, and skill. See our Statement of Independent Coach Earnings for the most recent information on the actual incomes of all our Coaches.)

What I’m doing

Since the majority of “work” for Beachbody consists of sharing my life on Instagram, focusing on my own self care, and chatting with other new mom friends, I’m not really planning to completely disengage but am giving myself permission to view it as a positive outlet for my mental/emotional/physical health, and not a necessity. I don’t want to feel pressured to show up and work when I am not ready or don’t have the energetic capacity, so I have set up systems to support my team and customers while taking a backseat for a couple months. 

I’m collaborating with a few leaders on my team to keep our groups fully supported, our team calls covered, our new coach trainings are on autopilot, and BECAUSE DIVINE TIMING ALWAYS COMES THROUGH there’s a brand new program with 20-30 home workout and a no-impact modifier releasing October 1st. Pending a smooth recovery this should be perfect timing for me to ease back into exercise, so I know my personal postpartum fitness plan is covered and I will open up my accountability coaching then for any other women or new moms who want to join me.

Life coaching

This income stream is partly from group programs and digital courses, but mainly from 1:1 private clients

What I’m doing

I’ve turned three of my most popular group programs into evergreen digital courses. I’m most proud of my signature program Wild Synchronicity, which will teach you how to plan your life, work, and self care around the cyclical energy of your hormone cycle.

Since I obviously won’t be able to be present for client sessions, I’ve phased out my 1:1’s and am putting my life coaching business on hold until later this fall or winter once we’re all settled in and I know I’ll be able to get baby care a few hours a week. Life coaching fills me with so much energy and joy, so I can’t wait to get back into it! My plan is to start with just 3 new clients this winter, and see how it goes.

(click here to join my waitlist to be the first to know when I open those spaces!)

In the meantime, I’ve set up an email series sharing my best posts on mindset, self care, and authentic biz from my blog archives, which will be scheduled to my email list and Facebook page over August, September, and October. I’m excited to share this valuable content with my community while not having to be physically or energetically present to create new posts or newsletters.

(click here to subscribe to my email series for free)

Etsy shop 

The Anna Maria Locke Etsy Shop started as a way to fund my yarn and fabric addiction, but has evolved into a really fun creative outlet and small income source, bringing in about $2,000/year. 

What I’m doing

Because it is so labor intensive (and not actually profitable when you account for the time I spend cutting fabric, sewing, and packaging orders), I am closing down the shop for the foreseeable future. This decision sounds kind of bittersweet but ultimately feels very freeing to me and not a loss at all. I’m easily inspired and could see myself shifting into the baby accessories market in the future… but for now I want to spend at least the rest of this year getting used to actually having a baby! And if miracles occur and I have a spare 20 minutes to sit down at the sewing machine, I want to be able to spend that time making things for my little nugget or my friend’s babies.

Final thoughts on prepping for a sabbatical or leave as a self employed creative entrepreneur

Overall I feel really good about this “plan.” It feels good, expansive, achievable instead of overwhelming and scary. I think the key is to remain completely flexible and detached from the outcome.

I’m learning it’s important to make plans, but even more important to hold them loosely and be open to things working out differently.

I am choosing to believe everything will unfold even better than I could predict or plan myself.

That having a baby will make my business EASIER, my overall life BETTER, my days more full of joy and happiness, and will launch me into greater levels of personal growth, service, and income.

And don’t hold back from asking for support, investing in a virtual assistant, and receiving help from others! I know it’s hard when you’re a solo-preneur and want to control everything, but trust me, you don’t have to do this alone.

Finally, a reminder for my fellow coaches: every time we grow and evolve, we bring that growth into our work so our clients get to benefit from our experience. Every time we are stretched past our breaking point, we gain resilience and a deeper capacity to feel and relate to others. 

So lean into the breakdowns, the overwhelm, the panic attacks, feel the feels, honor the sacred unraveling of everything you’ve known until now.

The very fabric of your business, identity, body, and life is shifting and integrating into something even stronger and more powerful than you’ve ever experienced before.

Trust it and let go.

Remember that in the end, this too shall pass :)

xo Anna

My favorite books for an empowered, holistic, and calm pregnancy

2019Anna Locke
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Once you get pregnant you quickly discover there are a billion books on pregnancy, not to mention the dark hole of the internet! And when your body is going through so many unfamiliar changes every single day, it’s tempting to become all-consumed with learning and Googling every twinge or weirdness. And then you discover that almost everything and everyone will give you conflicting evidence, which means you can’t just be told what to do but have to be as informed as possible while ultimately trusting your own intuition… which no one really teaches us how to do.

Most books and resources focus on the physical aspects of baby and your body, but I knew I wanted to focus on the mental, emotional, and spiritual side of this sacred time.

I’m a Type A planner and love reading and learning, so I’ve burned through a ton of pregnancy books over the last year. I recommend checking them out of the library if they’re available to see which ones you love most, and save your money for a cute maternity outfit that makes you feel gorgeous.

My personal philosophy around pregnancy and motherhood is a combo of science and “woo” -- I like knowing the evidence based studies and also strongly believe in the power of alternative medicine and energy work. Give me the facts, and then let me trust my intuition.

If you’re interested in a conscious pregnancy, mind/body/spirit, here are my favorite books that are worth spending money on! They also make fabulous baby shower gifts for your sister or friend.

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5 great books for a conscious, holistic, and calm pregnancy

Expecting Better by Emily Oster

Don’t eat turkey sandwiches! Keep your heart rate below 140! Avoid caffeine and alcohol at all costs! There are so many random rules we hear from doctors and society about what we can and can’t do while pregnant, and a lot of them are conflicting. What’s the deal, and what actually matters? Written by an economist, Expecting Better is data driven and evidence based. The author combs through hundreds of scientific studies to verify what is actually proven fact and what is simply outdated policies or old wives tales when it comes to all the advice and rules you’ll come across. If you are prone to anxiety and like facts and figures to make your own empowered decisions, this book will be incredibly reassuring!

Nurture: A Modern Guide to Pregnancy, Birth, Early Motherhood and Trusting Yourself and Your Body by Erica Chidi Cohen

Written by a doula, this book is basically like taking an in-depth holistic childbirth education class. While it trends towards the more natural route, the tone is very positive and neutral (i.e. no shame vibes if you choose or require interventions or medication during labor and delivery).

The sections on each trimester are pretty brief, but the sections on the stages of labor including different positions and comfort measures are the best I’ve found.

I would use this book as a resource for labor, birth, and early motherhood, less of a pregnancy resource.

Birth Without Fear: The Judgment-Free Guide to Taking Charge of Your Pregnancy, Birth, and Postpartum by January Harshe

Pregnancy and childbirth is incredibly overwhelming, and no one warns you about the mental and emotional changes that happen when your hormones go haywire. This book normalizes EVERYTHING through a self care lens.

The author is the founder of the Birth Without Fear movement and has 6 kids. It seems like she’s experienced every type of delivery under the sun from C-section to homebirth and she keeps it real.

There are chapters on pregnancy, every type of delivery you can imagine, postpartum, input from her husband for the partner’s perspective, sample birth plans for every scenario, it’s fantastic and incredibly empowering.

Bountiful Beautiful Blissful: Experience the Natural Power of Pregnancy and Birth with Kundalini Yoga and Meditation by Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa

This Kundalini resource might be a little out there for most people, but it is the most incredible guide if you like meditation and are interested in approaching pregnancy and childbirth as a spiritual journey (which I strongly believe it is!)

Kundalini is a Sanscrit term from ancient India that identifies the arising of an energy and consciousness. This book takes you on a journey through pregnancy from that perspective, so the meditations are calming but also active as you assume various mudras or arm/hand positions. Instead of simply calming your mind, you will reset your entire nervous system. Each chapter is a short reflection that makes me feel extremely grounded, calm, grateful, connected to my baby, all the warm fuzzy feelings that are so important and an antidote to the stress and anxiety of pregnancy in the modern age.

You will have a much deeper appreciation of the celebratory, deep and powerful initiation you’re going through as you grow a new life!

Real Food for Pregnancy: The Science and Wisdom of Optimum Prenatal Nutrition by Lily Nichols, RDN, CDE

If you’re interested in learning about nutrition during pregnancy, this is the only food book you need.

I bought it because I thought it was going to be a cookbook, but it turns out it’s a comprehensive guide to a healthy pregnancy through a nutrition perspective. It’s also the most heavily researched and evidence based book I’ve ever seen -- there are almost 1,000 references in the index !! It feels like an accessible and practical textbook on prenatal nutrition and food based prenatal care.

A couple important things to note:

She takes a meat centered, low carb -- almost paleo -- approach to nutrition so if you’re vegetarian or vegan, this is not the book for you. 

If you have a complicated emotional relationship with food, it might trigger you into negatively controlling or perfection mindset.

I ended up loving the book but pretty much ditched the majority of her advice on meal planning and eating because I’ve had strong aversions to animal protein and vegetables through my entire pregnancy. My body has craved carbs and I don’t feel satisfied or energized without making them my main food group, so I’ve been taking a more intuitive approach to food and allowing myself a more relaxed approach without guilt.

That being said, I still highly recommend at least checking out the book out of the library, maybe either super early in your pregnancy or in your second trimester once your morning sickness and nausea has passed.

If you end up being diagnosed with gestational diabetes, it is a fantastic resource, as well as her book Real Food for GD.

The Fourth Trimester: A Postpartum Guide to Healing Your Body, Balancing Your Emotions, and Restoring Your Vitality by Kimberly Ann Johnson

If you only get one book while pregnant, make it this one! And gift it to all your pregnant friends!

We are so consumed with pregnancy and birth, no one talks about the biggest transition of all, the postpartum period! We assume postpartum is the first 6 weeks or so after delivery and then we are cleared to workout, have sex, go back to work, and continue life as usual right? HA.

It’s kind of like getting so obsessed with planning every detail of your wedding that you forget it’s only one day, and then it’s over, and you realize the actual focus should be on prepping for marriage because you now have to spend the rest of your life with this person.

At the end of the day, the 9-10 months of pregnancy go by so fast, and active labor and delivery last at most a few days. Why aren’t we planning and preparing for how to heal and recover and learn how to take care of a new human for the rest of its life?

This book covers all that, a practical and encouraging guide to setting yourself up for a smooth-as-possible transition into motherhood. Not just the weird things that happen to your body but also the mental and emotional challenges of dealing with the biggest hormone crash of human existence while simultaniously healing from physical trauma/major abdominal surgery and trying to feed a human with your body all on extreme sleep deprivation (which in itself is used as a method of torture !!)... and learning how to ask for and receive support which is a giant challenge for women.

I recommend getting it by your second trimester so you have plenty of time to read and absorb in small doses to avoid complete overwhelm. But overall the tone is normalizing and empowering and will make you feel way more prepared for what’s to come.

You’ve got this, mama!

xo Anna