As a new mama who recently returned to work (she’s a health coach at the coolest medical practice ever), Susannah Anderson learned early on how important community is when it comes to stepping into the role of new mother. That’s why her and fellow health coach Brittany Forman (check out Brittany’s feature) started CircleMoms, a new mom group in the city focused on bringing moms and babies together, with postnatal experts there to support you on your journey.
Susannah opened up to us on all things motherhood, staying healthy throughout pregnancy and beyond, the work/life balancing act, and a lot more…and you can learn more about her amazing new side hustle, circlemoms here!
Can you share with our mamas a little about your role as a health coach at Parsley Health and your journey to getting there?
For those who aren’t familiar, Parsley Health is a primary care practice that integrates technology, nutrition, wellness and prevention into cutting-edge medicine. As a health coach, I support our patients to implement the plan that the doctor puts in place for them. For example, if we have a patient that is struggling with food allergies and has to go on an elimination diet, I will walk them through the plan, make sure they have the resources and accountability they need, and continue to support them through the entire process . As a health coach, we also focus a lot on stress management, good sleep hygiene, and overall happiness!
I’ve always been interested in wellness and enrolled in The Institute of Integrative Nutrition several years ago. I coached my friends on the side really just for fun but later decided I wanted to make a career out of it. I’d been following Parsley Health in New York and when I saw they were opening an office in San Francisco, I jumped at the opportunity! Luckily, it worked out and I’m thrilled to be part of such an amazing company changing healthcare.
Did your own diet change much during pregnancy or postpartum?
I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes when I was pregnant so my diet had to change pretty drastically. I had to really watch my refined carb intake, which is extra hard when you are pregnant! I focused on getting a lot of protein and healthy fats. I was really upset when I found out I had GD, but it ended up being somewhat of a blessing because I felt great during my pregnancy since I was so focused on fueling my body and my baby with such healthy foods and essentially no sugar at all. If anyone reading this gets diagnosed with GD, I highly recommend the book Real Food for Gestational Diabetes.
I started adding more carbs back into my diet postpartum when my blood sugar regulated. My body seemed to be craving more as well since I was breastfeeding. Honestly, eating healthy has been more challenging since Lydia was born because of lack of sleep and less energy and time to prepare foods. I still try to focus on healthy foods but am having to prepare quick meals - i.e. simple grilled chicken on some pre-washed lettuce!
Can you share a typical, working ‘day in the life’ of Susannah Anderson?
It’s definitely hard to get into any sort of routine with a 5 month old and I’m still trying to find “balance” but I have found a few things that are working well! I have the nanny come at 8am so I have an hour before I need to go to work to take care of my needs - this includes making sure I get some nourishment in the morning too! Meditation is extremely important to me and my practice definitely looks different now that I am a mom, but I still try to fit it in in some form. Right now, it’s just taking several deep breaths and listening to some motivating music while I get ready.
My day at Parsley Health is usually packed with patients, meetings, and some administrative time to work on new handouts and patient engagement. I head home around 5:00pm to start Lydia’s bedtime routine. I’ve had to get really efficient with dinner. I buy a lot of good quality meat and fish at the Farmers Market on Sundays and pull out one thing every day and pair it with a veggie. I basically just put everything on one pan and bake! This is the only way I can get in a healthy meal at night right now. Hopefully, I can get back to some more exciting recipes soon! My night always ends with a bath...it’s always been my thing and feels more important now than ever. Sometimes I soak in epsom salts, sometimes I do a facemask, and sometimes I just relax in a bubble bath with a glass of wine :).
What is the biggest lesson you have learned so far since becoming a mother?
You have to listen to your inner wisdom. There are so many resources out there telling you how to be a mom but ultimately every family is different and every child is different and you have to follow your intuition and trust that you know what’s best for your family.
If you could give one gift to all the mothers in the world, what would that be?
A support group of other moms in the same phase as you. Being a mom can be overwhelming at times and it’s so important to have a group of women who can support you through the ups and down of motherhood. A lot changes when you become a mom and it’s essential for your mental health to have people with whom you can share what’s on your heart and mind.
For our readers who may be on the road to fertility, do you have any diet or nutritional tips to help prepare the body for pregnancy?
It’s important to keep your hormones balanced by eating nourishing meals filled with healthy protein, fat, and fiber. It’s also important to be mindful of the intensity of the exercise you are doing. Exercise is important but it can be hard on your adrenals if you are pushing yourself to an extreme level when you are trying to get pregnant. I recommend restorative yoga and barre classes! I also recommend tracking your cycle for several months leading up to trying to get pregnant so you are clear on when you ovulate. Lastly, start a prenatal vitamin as early as possible - 6 months before trying if possible! I like the Metagenics prenatal but there are a lot of good options!
How has it been returning to exercise since having Lydia? Do you have any go-to classes in the city?
I was really honoring my body and its needs post pregnancy and I took my re-entry very slowly which worked well for me. I started with more restorative practices and I’ve built back up to the occasional Barry’s Bootcamp class! Right now, I’m loving Tim’s Soul Cycle class on Union Street, as well as all of the classes at The Dailey Method. It’s been really fun to do Dailey Baby with Lydia!
Finally, where can our mamas find you?
big thank you to susannah for an amazing interview, and feel free to reach out to her if have questions or are interested in learning more about circlemoms!
Keep moving, mamas!