Finding your Health Team with Dr. Leah Dukowitz

Dr. Leah is a mum of 3 boys, is passionate about health and wellness and runs a thriving chiropractic office Vitalize Family Chiropractic in Shiloh, IL.

When her oldest son started having seizures, she had to decide what the best course of treatment was. Navigating the medical world can be challenging for anybody. Listen in to Dr. Leah’s story and learn how she and her family dealt with this huge challenge.

Connect with Dr. Leah

Vitalize Family Chiropractic


Instagram @dr_leah_dukowitz

You’re Fucking Awesome

Sometimes you just need someone to tell you how great you are. Do you have somebody like that in your life? Someone that’s willing to let you know that you’re doing fucking awesome totally unsolicited and out of the blue. If not, you need to find someone who will do that for you. Not to blow smoke up your ass, but who truly believes in you as a person and is willing to support you no matter how crazy you’re ideas are!

Create Space to GSD

Time is one of the only resources that is irreplaceable. Once it’s gone there is no getting it back or making changes to it. As a mama, a business owner and spouse I’m constantly thinking about time – how to maximize it, where did it go, when are naps happening, and how to get everything done. Mostly, I’m failing at it. Getting all the things I want to do in a day doesn’t happen, but just because I’m failing doesn’t mean I’m not succeeding or learning from my mistakes. Without failure we cannot grow, and without growth there is no success. I don’t think I’m the only mama who is struggling with time management. Our kids throw our timelines into chaos every time they don’t nap on schedule, or melt down when they should be playing quietly. That is the messiness and beauty of parenthood. I want to share a couple of things that I do to maximize my time as much as possible, and by implementing you can feel more productive, more often.

  1. Have an outline of what you want to achieve at the start of the week. This doesn’t have to be extensive. Usually a list of three things is huge! Juggling kids doesn’t really lend itself to a schedule that is non negotiable. By having a clear idea of what you’re working on and can pick up when you have a free ½ hour or more without having to think about what you should do, you eliminate a lot of procrastinating and organizing before getting down to work. You don’t have time to procrastinate. You have shit to do, with a solid outline in place there is no time to go down the pinterest rabbit hole of paleo pancakes.
  2. Use the Urgent Important matrix or Eisenhower Decision Matrix to classify tasks and keep you working on things that really matter. In this matrix, tasks are classified as one of four things – urgent important, urgent not important, not urgent important, and not urgent not important. Try to not let tasks get to the urgent important stage. You know the one where if you don’t get it done within the next hour shit is going to hit the fan. Ideally, you are constantly working in the not urgent important quadrant. This is the one that has important work but it’s not yet urgent. It is allowing you to work ahead and stay on top of things that really matter. This will help to reduce stress as you won’t be freaking out about the deadline that is quickly approaching and you don’t have child care and your kid has lost it for reasons unbeknownst to you.
  3. When working from home in times when your little one is sleeping it can be easy to prioritize housework. But, if your hustle is important to you, you need to look past the dishes in your sink or your full laundry basket and get down to work. Have set times to do the housework and all other time is for getting down to work. Do what fills your soul. If that is writing or painting, then make sure that is what you’re doing the majority of the time you have free. If you constantly default to housework, you are going to feel unfulfilled and possibly resentful of the other adults in your house.
  4. Multitask when you can but not to the detriment of quality or productivity. It’s great to get multiple things done at once. But for the most part, focusing on one task at hand is always going to be more beneficial than spreading your brain power and your hands thin. Ways to multitask that actually serve you include listening to like minded podcasts or audiobooks while you workout, cook or clean. Spend quality time with your spouse while also taking care of tasks such as meal prepping, making this fun rather than a chore.
  5. Make your self-care a priority. So often what we need to do to create power for our day is put aside and left behind as we focus on the needs of our kids, our business and household. This is acceptable occasionally, but it’s going to lead to burnout, stress and despair. Power is created by you and for you, but only when you take the time to invest in you. Play with your routine here and figure out what works best for you. My morning routine, won’t necessarily be ideal for your needs. Be open to learning what you need from yourself then consistently take action.
  6. Be present. Time truly does seem to slow down when we are in the moment. When you’re with your family, be there. Turn off distractions, bye bye social media, and focus on what you’re doing and who you’re with. This is a practice. If you’re not used to being in the moment it will be hard, especially if you’re working and you have a million tabs open. Or you’re with your kids and you have a deadline coming up. But with practice, you will get better. Make the choice to focus on the thing that you’re doing and watch your enjoyment and productivity speed up.

Thanks for reading! I would love to hear any thoughts or tips you have to manage time.

Peace, Love and Wellness

My NZ Tribute… Kia Kaha

The massacre in New Zealand has touched me deeply. I felt compelled to share something regarding it, possibly for a cathartic effect, but hopefully it can do more than that. This is what I wrote in the minutes after hearing about it… the first thoughts that came to mind.

As I watch my son goo, gah and giggle while getting changed, I’m reminded that we are not born with hate in our heart.

That to hate is something that we learn as we grow.

And what can be learned can be unlearned.
What can be learned can override past learnings.

To drive out hate we must spread love. It’s the only way. Darkness cannot be overcome with more darkness or more anger, we need to bring light even when it seems there is not even a flicker.

It starts with me. And it starts with you. There is no longer a place on the sidelines. Apathy is complicit to those that have learned to hate so strongly that they explode.

My thoughts are with my brothers and sisters in NZ. I am sending love and light. ❤️

Kia Kaha is a Maori phrase used as an affirmation to Stay Strong.

Surprising lessons from the Motherhood Trench

I’m nearly 11 months into being a mother. Some would say, as soon as I got pregnant, I became a mother, but math isn’t my strong suit so let’s just say nearly 11 months. Reflecting back on what the almost last year has been like, I realized there are a couple of things that really stand out as surprising over this journey. I’m sure it’s different for everyone, but I wanted to share mine and hopefully you’ll feel motivated to share yours and we can come up with a whole laundry list of surprising and unexpected things about motherhood to share with the next generation. So here are my top three things that surprised me about motherhood.

  1. I miss my old life. The one where I could sleep in and nap whenever I liked. I could lie on the couch and watch tv uninterrupted. The one where I could drop everything and hit the slopes or trails. I worked out when I wanted and spent time working whenever I wanted. I did all the things I loved without the necessity for a plan. Before a new little human came into my life, I couldn’t fathom the way that would change my life. I had an inkling. This inkling was the catalyst for going through many years thinking I didn’t want kids, because it would change my life in a way I wasn’t prepared for. Eventually, I was ready to have kids, but I still wasn’t prepared for the change. I don’t think that you can be. And I miss what was.
  2. I’m not IN love with my child. When people talk about their kids they say they are so IN love. To me, I pictured this love to be very similar to the love I have for my husband. The love that when we first started dating was so all consuming and so intense. But it’s so different. It’s like a slow burn that fills the very essence of my soul. It’s a love that is reserved only for him, just like the love for my husband is solely his. I love my son fiercely but I’m not IN love with him. In my definition, that’d be weird.
  3. I didn’t know that I could get so frustrated at somebody. For those that know me personally, I’m pretty laid back. I roll with the punches for the most part and don’t get rattled very often. But in the last 11 months, I can honestly say it’s the most frequently I have been frustrated in my life. This little person with his own personality, temperament, and determination who wants to do things his way, right now with zero concern for anybody else. And if not, then he will let you know about it. I know this is how babies are, and if he wants only me at 3am, it’s because I’m his source of sustenance, but fuck, who actually can comprehend this before it actually happens? There are a lot factors that go into this, such as sleep deprivation and hormones, but it’s a whole different side of me that I’ve never seen before. To say that you grow as a human when you become a parent is an understatement. We do focus on the growth of the child, with good reason, but the growth of the parent is seemingly just as important. Each day I’m learning and growing to lead, to communicate and to teach, and that’s a pretty big fucking deal.

It goes without saying that I love my child. The words above are not to degrade this life changing event, but to bring enlightenment to it. To recognize that it’s ok to miss what was. To know it’s ok that giving love isn’t just one dimensional, and to understand that my own growth is just as important as my son’s. I know that each day, week, month and year is going to bring new surprises and lessons. It’s up to me to embrace the suck, the joy, the learning, the growth and the whole messiness of raising a family, because there is no other way to go through it. Love to hear your thoughts about this one! Drop em’ in the comments below.

The Hives Saga!

If you have been following me at all – on this blog or on instagram, you would know that I’ve been dealing with hives. They come and they go and until now I have been completely at a loss for what could be causing them. Last night, I put all the pieces of the puzzle and think I have come up with the answer. Breastfeeding is triggering the hives.

How do I know this? Well, when I am in practice seeing clients my hives completely go away. This initially led me to believe it was an allergen in my house. We then took a trip and were away from the house for 5 days, but I had zero relief from my hives. The second piece of the puzzle was diet. Usually, I’m quite conscientious about what goes in my mouth. On my recent trip to Australia, I wasn’t as picky and pretty much went with the flow in regards to food. It wasn’t my intention to have it continue when I got home, but it did. Dairy was the top of my list because I was completely dairy free for many months after Coen was born. Gluten is always a culprit as I know that I have a sensitivity to it through testing. So I started the whole30. A couple of days in, there was no change to my hives outbreak. The third piece of the puzzle was that when they originally started, they would be worse when I woke up in the morning. Then a couple of weeks ago, they started getting better upon waking.

What changed? We moved Coen to his crib and I stopped feeding him at night. Coen doesn’t come to work with me and he takes a bottle while I’m gone, so most days I go 6 hours without feeding him. Then last night after feeding him for the second time since coming home from work, I felt the hives really kick in. After a quick google search, I found that it’s quite common during postpartum breastfeeding. Usually it happens early on in postpartum, but for me I had been under some stress since coming back from Australia and couple that with not eating well and BAM! Hives.

One thing to note here is that breastfeeding is not causing the hives. It is the trigger. That may seem like semantics, but bear with me here. For 10 months I breastfed without one single hive. If breastfeeding was causing the hives, then I would have had them all along. But I didn’t. What I have now is an immune system that is compromised from excess stress, both chemical and emotional. It’s up to me to rebuild my body through sound nutrition and self-care to allow myself the correct response to feeding Coen. I could choose to give up breastfeeding, and the hives may or may not go away. But, if I do that and they do go away, I have lost my feedback for whether I am on the right track nutritionally and emotionally.  Your body is always giving you signs and signals. Symptoms are the alarm that something is wrong. Suppressing them or avoiding them doesn’t make the issue less real, just less present.

So, I’m continuing on with the whole30. It’s a great way to reset the body. I’m going to do some reading about what I can focus on in my diet to help my system chill the fuck out, and I’m going to listen to and nurture my body and mind to make sure that I’m in a great place emotionally. Oh, and I’ll continue to get adjusted by my chiropractor once a week (or more) to make sure all my systems are getting the messages they need to function properly.

A head in the sand approach will never get you the outcome that you want, where are you doing this in your life? Know that you’re not alone and can reach out whenever you get stuck or just want someone to vent to.

Update 3/13/19: I have now been supplementing with cod liver oil, evening primrose oil, vitamin D, consistently taking my prenatal and continuing on with the whole30. As of yesterday, I am almost hive free. There was one spot on my leg when I woke up this morning but it was teeny tiny. Guys, listen to your body, seek out the answers and work diligently to implement. Results won’t be overnight, but consistent action will get you what you want!

We ditched cosleeping… until we didn’t.

I always pictured myself cosleeping with my child. And we did for about 10 months. There was a lot of good. I didn’t have to get up to nurse and sometimes could even sleep while he was eating. There were oh so many snuggles. But the downsides of not being able to snuggle or have sex with my husband, having him wake whenever I got out of bed or be unable to go to bed on his own were hard. Eventually, I broke. It had been weeks of us struggling to get him to sleep at a reasonable hour, that also allowed us to have some time together at night. He would cry so hard in our arms while we rocked and soothed and walked. He would struggle to get free. How was this any different than the cry it out method? He was just as upset, and to make matters worse, after getting him to sleep he would generally wake up 40 minutes later to be up until we went to bed. This wasn’t good for anybody.

A friend had given us a sleep book, and we decided to go for it. I was super skeptical. The first night he cried for 40 minutes with my husband sitting right next to him, and then he woke up a couple of times during the night, one of which he cried for another 40 minutes. By night 3 he was asleep within 5 minutes, after a couple of whimpers. And he stayed asleep for 3+ hours. Wait, what? Is this actually possible? It hasn’t been smooth sailing. We’ve had a disastrous night of him awake every hour. Although my husband was up with him, and I slept pretty much through it all 🙂 But overall, I feel this setup is much better for our family.

The ability to be flexible and not dogmatic about how it’s supposed to be is so important for life, not only parenthood. Being able to continuously evaluate what’s working and what’s not allows you to make adjustments and find better ways of doing things. This will only work if you’re willing to look at your surroundings with open eyes. Focus on the facts of things and try and keep your feelings out of it. If I had continued to stick with my feelings of wanting to cosleep, we’d still be fighting with Coen for an hour, so he could sleep for 40 minutes and be up again. The facts were, the bedtime arrangement wasn’t working anymore and it was time to change.

Insanity is doing the same fucking shit over and over again and expecting a change. And we do this all the time. With our health, our relationships, our career. You want change, take a good hard look at your habits and find where you can do something different. Only then will you get a different result.

Update: I wrote this original post on February 24th. Since then we have regressed. We took a trip and weren’t able to keep up with the program we were on and it’s been hard to get back on a schedule. I’ve now realized that it doesn’t have to look a certain way. Just because the book says he should be able to go all night without eating and sleep for 12 hours, doesn’t mean that it’s going to happen. Finding our groove and what’s working best for us is the most important thing.
For example. Last night, Coen went down on his own and slept for just over 4 hours. I was able to soothe him back to sleep in his crib, where he slept soundly until 4am. It was then that we ha a choice. Try to get him back to sleep, or feed him and bring him into bed. We chose the latter. We all slept again until just before 7am.

That to me is success. No, it doesn’t look identical to the plan. But it allowed us to pivot into something better. Allow yourself the option to pivot towards a different outcome. Getting hung up on how it should be, rather than how it is will only lead to frustration. This relates to all things in your life. Where can you pivot towards a better option rather than the what you expected? Let me know!

Flying Solo… Tips & Tricks for Traveling with Your Little

I was anxious before leaving on our holiday to Australia. In general, I don’t like to make this trip on my own. It’s a long time by myself and I’m not super chatty with other travellers, so I spend a lot of time just not talking… which is kind of weird. This time heading home to Australia from Montana, I was not traveling alone per se, as my almost 9 month old was along for the ride. When I booked the flights, Coen was about 3 months old and just a blob. I couldn’t imagine that he would be very mobile and very curious about everything. The unknown of how he was going to respond was giving me anxiety. We had flown before, a quick trip to the midwest, at around 6 months. He did great! But, the flight was at least 4 times shorter than the one we were about to take and he was barely mobile. Looking back I had nothing to be worried about. I did, however, utilize some tips and tricks that I’m certain helped make the trip a piece of cake. These are what I want to share with you today!

  1. Have a game plan with your luggage. Checking your bags all the way through to your destination is not always an option with international travel, That means you have to pick them up and recheck them at some point. With only one set of hands, it can be hard to manage while toting a baby around. Ideally you will be able to get someone to help, but knowing how you are going to get them from the bag carousel to recheck them will keep you moving towards your destination.
  2. Know exactly where you packed everything. Because you only have one set of hands, you probably won’t have the usual diaper bag/handbag combo that you are used to. This may throw off your rhythm come diaper changing time or when you’re checking in. Use a bag that can keep everything in one place, so you don’t need multiple bags to carry on.
  3. Have a change of clothes for yourself. Obviously, you’ll have multiple changes for your little but you just never know when a poop explosion is going to seep on to your clothes. If you have 20+ hours ahead of you, it’s nice not to have to do it in poopy clothes or clothes covered in spit-up.
  4. Take your breastfeeding pillow on the plane. When your little one falls asleep, it’ll make it more comfortable for him as well as for you. You’ll be able to have both hands free and his head will be resting comfortably, instead of being smooshed on the arm rest. It is one more thing to carry with you, but it is literally one of your greatest assets!
  5. Request a bassinet seat ahead of time (if you can). This will have you seated at the bulkhead of the plane, giving you a little more room to maneuver when she is sleeping and awake. On the return visit from Australia, I couldn’t use the bassinet because it would of blocked my fellow aisle mates from getting out of their seats. But, it did give me a little more room to put Coen on the seat and I could kneel in front of him to keep him occupied while he was awake.
  6. Speaking of the bulkhead seat, use your wheelie carry on bag as a footrest. This made a huge difference for me going down to Australia. Qantas had an amazing bassinet for Coen (which he slept beautifully in), so I was able to get some good sleep, baby free. By using my carry on bag as a footrest, it was almost like being able to lie down… almost, but not.
  7. Gate check your stroller AND have an option to baby wear. By having both of these with me while I was traversing the airport, I was able to utilize what was best for getting us from A to B depending on the circumstances. Putting him in the stroller the majority of the time, kept him contained with both of my hands free. I was able to wear him through security which kept both of my hands free, to get all the things through the x-ray machine. When we landed in L.A and had to make our connections, I had to collect all my luggage and change terminals. I was able to utilize the stroller as a way to carry some of the luggage, wear Coen and pull the big suitcase. This point obviously goes hand in hand with number 1… have a game plan.
  8. Limit the number of toys you take with you. I don’t know about you, but my little loves to play with everything but his actual toys. Instead of taking a ton of different things to keep him occupied, I made do with random objects we found along the way.
  9. Board the plane as close to last as possible. I know they always ask for parents traveling with kids to board first for extra time, but when you’re the first one on it means that you have to hold your kid in the seat for the longest period of time. By boarding last, they can continue playing and spend as little time as possible cooped up in your seat.

I hope this helps ease some of your anxiety when traveling solo with your little. While the trip was still hard… it was 28 hours of travel!… it was pretty much smooth sailing the whole way. While I can’t guarantee that if you follow these steps it’ll be easy for you (or for me the next time we go!), hopefully they will ease some stress that goes with traveling with a little one. If you have done anything else to ease the burden of travel with your little one, I’d love to know what you did. Drop it below in the comments!

Just Start

It’s been a struggling getting up to full speed after coming back from holiday. Yes, there is the excuse of jet lag for myself and for Coen, but it shouldn’t take three weeks to get back to feeling ready to tackle my life and to start kicking ass again. This is so indicative of what happens in our life. We get thrown off course, for whatever reason – sickness, our kids, our spouse, our work, our extended family, holiday – and the getting back on track takes WAYYYY too long. I have a theory for why this is, keep reading if you’re curious about what it is.

Our insecurities kick in. That voice in our head that says, ‘You shouldn’t be doing this, you’re not good enough, smart enough, interesting enough… {insert insecurity here}.’ I’ve been back for 3 weeks and I’m yet to record a podcast. It’s easy to blame time or tiredness or my family. But, if I’m 100% honest, it’s because I’ve reverted back to thinking that I’m not good enough and I have nothing to say. Even though I know exactly what my first 2 or 3 episodes are going to be about! We push aside the things that scare us for the things that we know and then rationalize that we need to get other things done, like laundry. Nobody ever fucking regretted not doing laundry, but you will regret putting off that book you want to write.

So how do you push past those insecurities? You just start. Start with something that you know you can do. It’s all about the little wins, the base hits, that you can get without even having to flex your decision making muscle. Maybe you want to get back to exercising after falling into the holiday pit of parties, stress and extra family time. Start by getting outside with your kids. Play with them, take them for walks and just move your body. It’s not officially exercise, but moving daily is way better than sitting and watching them play on the floor. Then you can get a little more dedicated – go back to the gym once per week, or do squats/lunges while your doing the laundry. There is so many ways to incorporate extra movement into your day that literally requires no extra thought, time or planning on your behalf.

Ok one more example. You have falling off the wagon of starting the business you were super fired up about. Take 2 minutes out of your day and find 1 or 2 things that you can do that will reignite the fire. Maybe it’s committing to writing daily for your blog, or it’s spending 10 minutes recording content. It doesn’t have to be perfect, fuck it doesn’t even have to be good! I was reading or listening to Seth Godin (I can’t remember which), and he said there is no such thing as writer’s block. ‘Interesting…’ I thought. He went on to say, you can always write something. Not everything you do will be good, to be frank, most of will be crap. But, getting into the daily habit of performing a task is going to move you towards the targets you have.

While I’m sharing this blog post to you, I’m mostly talking to myself. I see this hesitancy, this insecurity in me on a daily basis, and I just need to start. So let’s start together. Let’s put the laundry, the dishes and whatever mindless, endless household task that you’re doing that is taking priority, aside, and start working on the things that really light us up and bring us joy!