Health coach Kelly LeVeque came up with a super simple way for mamas to get the nourishment they need

Despite spending a lot of time dealing with food—shopping for it, preparing it, packing it and serving it—we mamas don't always take the time to actually nourish ourselves.

If you've ever found yourself scarfing down your first meal of the day in the afternoon or knowing that a drive-through donut or five string cheeses isn't the right choice (but is your only choice at that point), you know what we're talking about and you need to know about Kelly LeVeque, the holistic nutritionist and health coach who is helping Hollywood moms and regular moms change their lives by changing one habit.

She's the woman behind the #fab4smoothie you're seeing all over Instagram, the woman who Jennifer Garner turns to when she needs help balancing demanding schedules and blood sugar, and she's helping mamas fuel themselves so that we can fuel the next generation.

"Moms don't have the bandwidth to think about themselves, most of the time," LeVeque tells Motherly, adding that her clients often find her when things have become desperate, when they're overeating at night because they're not feeding themselves well during the day. "They've finally decided to put themselves first, and they just don't know even where to start," says LeVeque, who has good news for any mama who can identify with this feeling.

"It isn't about changing your whole life, it isn't the meal prepping, it isn't spending six hours on a Sunday, because most of my moms barely have an hour, if at all. It really is about saying, "What can you commit to? Could you take three minutes to blend a smoothie, and put it in the refrigerator. Could you commit to just that one habit?" says LeVeque.

Enter the Fab Four Smoothie. It's not a specific recipe, but a customizable formula LeVeque uses to help clients get the nutrients they need and a taste they'll love.

"It just requires four things, hence the Fab Four. Protein, fat, fiber and greens, like spinach, kale, basil, whatever you feel like," she explains.

"It works for any lifestyle. Say, for example, you were vegan, you'd wanna use a pea protein, but if you were paleo, or gluten-free, or into skin health, you might wanna use a collagen protein. Then, healthy fats. Good examples are almond butter, avocado, olive oil, coconut oil. It really just depends on the flavor profile you're going for."

For fiber, LeVeque recommends adding chia or flax to the smoothie.

LeVeque is currently expecting her first child, and while she's had a lot of clients who use plant proteins and protein powders before and after their pregnancies, it's not something that she recommends or does personally.

"I'm actually incorporating some collagen protein, right now, and the reason for that is plant-based proteins tend to be higher in heavy metals," she explains.

"I'm using Primal Kitchen collagen, right now, vanilla, or chocolate. The vanilla is what I've been sticking to for green smoothies. That's a great base. I do the vanilla collagen protein, and then, in the original green, it's almond butter as my fat, and then either chia, or flax, whatever I have in the cabinet, for my fiber, a huge handful of greens. I use Organic Girl [greens], a lot. They're the triple-washed mixed-green mixes at Whole Foods."

LeVeque recommends that time-strapped mamas consider blending and refrigerating smoothies the night before, and go easy on the fruit (only about a fourth of a cup) to prevent blood sugar spikes. It means your Fab Four Smoothie might not taste like the super sweet smoothies most of us are used to, but it will get you so much further.

"We're taking what turns off hunger hormones, what regulates our hunger, and putting it into a shake that's actually meal-replacing," she explains. "The Fab Four Smoothie is pretty thick. It's almost like, sometimes, depending on how people make it, it can be like a pudding consistency. It's heavy enough to activate the stretch receptors in your stomach, so that ghrelin, which is a really strong hunger hormone, calms down. You get protein in there so that you're not craving sugar, and carbohydrates, later in the day."

The author of "Body Love: Live in Balance, Weigh What You Want, and Free Yourself from Food Drama Forever", says that typically her clients who incorporate a smoothie into their morning make better choices throughout the day, because they're not starving and caving to cravings by noon. That doesn't mean we have to wake up and chug down our Fab4 at six in the morning. If you need breakfast right when you wake up, do it, but some people don't need to eat until 10 or even 11 LeVeque says, although she cautions against waiting much longer than that.

The #fabfoursmoothie may be Instagram worthy, but it's just a starting place, not the entire picture. But starting our day with one and figuring out that protein+fat+fiber+greens formula can help busy mamas figure out what works for them, and help them feed their kids better, too.

"This is a lifestyle. It's a life-changer, and it's not about rules. Every single time I sit down with clients privately, they want more rules. They feel safe in rules. What I want my clients to always know is that if you understand the biology, you don't actually need rules. You can eat out, without having anxiety. You can pull something together, really quickly, from your fridge," she explains.

"Eating healthy doesn't have to be this beautiful, Instagram-able bowl. It's really about simple ingredients, real whole foods, and eating them in a combination that makes you feel full for hours," LeVeque adds.

Sounds a lot better than a cold coffee and some broken Goldfish.

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My village lives far away—but my Target baby registry helped them support me from afar

Virtual support was the next best thing to in-person hugs

They say you shouldn't make too many major life transitions at once. But when I was becoming a mama for the first time nearly five years ago, my husband and I also moved to a new town where we didn't know a soul, bought our first house and changed jobs.

To put it mildly, we didn't heed that advice. Luckily, our family and friends still made it feel like such a magical time for us by supporting our every move (literal and otherwise) from afar. They showered us with love through a virtual baby shower (expectant parents nowadays can relate!) featuring the unwrapping of gifts they were able to ship straight to me from my Target registry.

Here's one piece of advice I did take: I registered at Target so I could take advantage of the retailer's benefits for registrants, which include a welcome kit valued over $100, a universal registry function and more. Fast-forward a few years and Target has made the registration perks even better for expectant parents: As of August 2020, they've added a Year of Exclusive Deals, which gives users who also sign up for Target Circle a full year of savings after baby is born on all those new mama essentials, from formula to diapers and beyond.

Honestly, even without the significant perks of a free welcome kit with more than $100 in coupons, additional 15% off coupons to complete the registry and a full year of free returns, registering at Target wasn't a hard sell for me: Even though the experience of shopping for baby items was new, shopping with Target felt like returning home to me… and the comfort of that was such a gift.

And of course, Target's registry plays a vital role right now, as expectant parents everywhere are being forced to cancel in-person baby showers and navigate early parenthood without the help of a hands-on village. A registry like this represents a safe way for communities to come through for new parents. If you're anything like me (or any of the other mamas here at Motherly), you certainly have emotional ties and fond memories associated with Target.

What to register for at Target was also an easy talking point as I began to connect with moms in my new community. I will always remember going on a registry-building spree with my next door neighbor, who had young children of her own. As we walked the aisles of Target back in 2015, she suggested items to add… and we laid the foundation for what has since become one of my most cherished friendships.

Even as I made connections in my new hometown, I was nervous that expecting my first baby wouldn't feel as special as if I were near family and friends. But my loved ones exceeded all expectations by adding the most thoughtful notes to gifts. They hosted a beautiful virtual baby shower and even encouraged me to keep the registry going after my baby made his debut and new needs arose.

In the years since, "community" has taken on a wonderfully complex new meaning for me… and, in these times of social distancing, for the rest of the world. I've come to cherish my newfound friends in our local community alongside those long-time friends who are scattered around the county and my virtual mama friends.

Now, as my friends' families grow, I'm so grateful that I can show them the same love and support I felt during my first pregnancy. I sing the praises of Target's baby registry—especially in light of the pandemic, since I know mamas can do everything from a distance thanks to Target's website and the added benefit of getting trusted reviews and helpful registry checklists.

And now that I'm on the gift-buying side of the equation, I've found new joy in picking thoughtful gifts for my friends. (Because goodness knows Target has something for everyone!)

For my friend who is a fellow runner, I teamed up with a few others to give the jogging stroller she had on her registry.

For my friend who is a bookworm, I helped her start her baby's library with a few books that are also well-loved in our home.

For other friends, I've bundled together complete "sets" with everything they need for bathing or feeding their children.

I know from my own experience that, yes, the registry purchases are so appreciated, but the thoughtfulness and the support they represent means even more. Because although my village may have been distant, the support they showed me was the next best thing to in-person hugs.

Start your own Target Baby Registry here to experience a Year of Benefits including a Year of Exclusive Deals through Target Circle to enjoy for a full year following your baby's arrival, a year of free returns, two 15% off completion coupons and a free welcome kit ($100 value).

This article was sponsored by Target. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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I never wanted to be a mom. It wasn't something I ever thought would happen until I fell madly in love with my husband—who knew very well he wanted children. While he was a natural at entertaining our nephews or our friends' kids, I would awkwardly try to interact with them, not really knowing what to say or do.

Our first pregnancy was a surprise, a much-wanted one but also a unicorn, "first try" kind of pregnancy. As my belly grew bigger, so did my insecurities. How do you even mom when you never saw motherhood in your future? I focused all my uncertainties on coming up with a plan for the delivery of my baby—which proved to be a terrible idea when my dreamed-of unmedicated vaginal birth turned into an emergency C-section. I couldn't even start motherhood the way I wanted, I thought. And that feeling happened again when I couldn't breastfeed and instead had to pump and bottle-feed. And once more, when all the stress from things not going my way turned into debilitating postpartum anxiety that left me not really enjoying my brand new baby.

As my baby grew, slowly so did my confidence that I could do this. When he would tumble to the ground while learning how to walk and only my hugs could calm him, I felt invincible. But on the nights he wouldn't sleep—whether because he was going through a regression, a leap, a teeth eruption or just a full moon—I would break down in tears to my husband telling him that he was a better parent than me.

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and that this time it was twins. I panicked. I really cannot do two babies at the same time. I kept repeating that to myself (and to my poor husband) at every single appointment we had because I was just terrified. He, of course, thought I could absolutely do it, and he got me through a very hard pregnancy.

When the twins were born at full term and just as big as singleton babies, I still felt inadequate, despite the monumental effort I had made to grow these healthy babies and go through a repeat C-section to make sure they were both okay. I still felt my skin crawl when they cried and thought, What if I can't calm them down? I still turned to my husband for diaper changes because I wasn't a good enough mom for twins.

My husband reminded me (and still does) that I am exactly what my babies need. That I am enough. A phrase that has now become my mantra, both in motherhood and beyond, because as my husband likes to say, I'm the queen of selling myself short on everything.

So when my babies start crying, I tell myself that I am enough to calm them down.

When my toddler has a tantrum, I remind myself that I am enough to get through to him.

When I go out with the three kids by myself and start sweating about everything that could go wrong (poop explosions times three), I remind myself that I am enough to handle it all, even with a little humor.

And then one day I found this bracelet. Initially, I thought how cheesy it'd be to wear a reminder like this on my wrist, but I bought it anyway because something about it was calling my name. I'm so glad I did because since day one I haven't stopped wearing it.

Every time I look down, there it is, shining back at me. I am enough.

I Am Enough bracelet 

SONTAKEY  I Am Enough Bracelet

May this Oath Bracelet be your reminder that you are perfect just the way you are. That you are enough for your children, you are enough for your friends & family, you are enough for everything that you do. You are enough, mama <3


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10 photos to take on baby’s first day that you'll cherish forever

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Bethany Menzel: Instagram + Blog

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