Wellness Spotlight: Samantha Levin
The Wellness Spotlight series highlights military spouses and their real world health and wellness journeys in a Facebook live series. Below is an excerpt of Samantha’s feature.
TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR JOURNEY AS A MILITARY SPOUSE?
When I got pregnant with my daughter I really let myself go and literally "ate for two"- okay, maybe three or four. When I left the hospital after giving birth I didn't recognize myself. That entire year post partum I tried every diet you could think of and just couldn't stick to anything. When my daughter turned one my husband was getting ready to leave for his second deployment for nine months and we made the decision that it would be best if I went to New York to be with family. Losing the baby weight was something I wanted to focus on while he was gone as a distraction, but I still didn't know how I was going to go about it. When I got to New York I found myself extremely anxious about my husband's safety and feeling isolated from my military life. My husband was going "outside the wire" several days a week and it was getting to the point where I had trouble sleeping. One day I just started running and I noticed I started to sleep better and feel more relaxed during the day. Just like that I was hooked! I also started to eat healthier, and that's when I noticed I was losing weight and noticing a big difference.
HAVE YOU EXPERIENCED ANY HIGHS OR LOWS AS A MILITARY SPOUSE?
Believe it or not reintegration was DIFFICULT. I was not expecting that, especially because I missed my husband every single day he was gone and counted down every day until his arrival. When my husband left for deployment our daughter was 12 months, had a very small vocabulary, and was not walking yet. When he returned she was 21 months, walking, and her vocabulary grew tremendously. I was living in NY and had just left family I was used to seeing every day. My husband and I had to learn how to live with each other again, and he also had to get to know his daughter since she was basically a completely different person from the baby he left. The process was a mix of emotions and it took some time until things felt normal again.
A recent high moment was when I won third place in my age group at my first half marathon! It really showed me where all my hard work went.
WHAT IS ONE PERSONAL HABIT THAT CONTRIBUTES TO YOUR SUCCESS?
I use the app MyFitnessPal every day! It's a great way to track your calories, macros, and workouts. In addition to tracking, you learn so much about nutrition from inputting the foods and reading their nutritional information. At this point I can tell you the amount of fiber, sugar, and protein for almost every vegetable (ha!). If MyFitnessPal isn't the right app for you there are a few other ones that are great such as LoseIt. Using an app like these are a serious game changer. Most people don't realize how much they are consuming daily without tracking it.
WHAT IS A HEALTH AND WELLNESS RESOURCE YOU WOULD SHARE WITH THE COMMUNITY?
In the crazy world of social media that we live in we need to be extremely careful with the advice we get on the internet. There are a lot of "health coaches" out there who are not qualified to give nutritional advice. I see this all the time. We need to remember that anyone can be a "health coach" but not everyone can become a dietician overnight. I believe knowledge is power and I have respect for those who paid and worked hard in school who have over time gained the knowledge to offer nutrition or fitness advice. You will see me share my recipes on Instagram but you will not see me tell people what they should and shouldn't eat. What works for some people may not work for others.
That being said, social media can also be a fantastic place to get advice and inspiration from those who are qualified! On Instagram I follow a dietitian named Ilana Mulhstein. She posts not only great advice on nutrition and fitness, but she shows ways to get kids to eat healthy foods. In addition, she came up with this fantastic slogan to incorporate in your every day life- "Water first, veggies most." Seriously, if you don't follow her you should!
Another person I get great advice from is another registered dietitian named Suzanne Fisher. She is awesome and just about anyone can relate to her! Most recently she posted a video about introducing certain foods to kids under 12 months to help avoid allergies.
IF YOU COULD RECOMMEND ONE BOOK TO MILITARY SPOUSES, WHAT WOULD IT BE AND WHY?
I read The American Wife when Michael was deployed and loved it. It is written by Taya Kyle, the wife of former (deceased) Navy Seal Chris Kyle (American Sniper). The part of the book that covers her husband's death is extremely sad, but most of the book covers her experience as an active duty military spouse. Taya also used fitness to help cope with the death of her husband. She is truly an inspiring woman.
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ABOUT Samantha Levin
Samantha is an Army JAG spouse and native New Yorker currently stationed at Fort Benning, GA. She has two children, Isabella and Hank, and a Cavalier King Charles dog named Jagy. She loves to cook clean colorful meals, and go for a run at any opportunity. Recently, she ran the entire nine months of her pregnancy! Samantha is a RRCA Running Coach and hopes to start coaching at her next duty station. She is also passionate about politics, and can never have enough peanut butter or coffee.
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