SURF SQUAD, an ongoing series in which we talk to surfer moms (and dads!) about their healthy, beach lifestyle.
Need I say more or should I just let the images do the talking? I mean, you get it right? When we think about wellness, we think about Mona-Jane @rocamoon. Originally from New Zealand, living in Hawaii and momma to an adorable little boy, Mona-Jane shares how she cut back on sugar, her personal wellness journey after loosing her first baby and simple ways to incorporate your MINI into your workouts.
Photos by: @breehawaii and @ambermozo
On your journey to discovering wellness through food and fitness: I have always lived a fairly active and fit lifestyle – whether training for sports, or outdoor activities like hiking and kayaking, I’ve always been in motion. But, I too have been through different stages of health and weight – like most people – particularly during adolescence through to very early adulthood. For most of my life I’ve been known to eat HEAPS and I mean HEAPS of sweets, chocolate and ice cream, therefore the major shift in my diet away from this happened just after I got married when my husband challenged me to cut out ice cream for 5 weeks and in trade he eliminated coke from his diet. To my surprise, I did it! This set into motion a change in my lifestyle. Then when I became pregnant, my awareness around food amplified and even more so after having my baby. I realized that eating healthier, and also keeping up the exercise just made me feel better despite the changes that came with pregnancy. I would be happier, in a better state of mind, and a nicer person, especially to my husband having to deal with my crazy pregnancy hormones (haha). I guess I made better food choices and eating more wholesome, and that paired with my active lifestyle, has definitely upgraded life for me and my family on multiple levels. Don’t get me wring, I definitely still eat sweets but I’ve learned to eat them in moderation because after all when food tastes epic and it’s healthy, then you’re winning!!
How you start and end your day: With my husband’s job being pretty flexible we don’t have much of a routine. The first thing I do when I wake is say my prayers, then I take a beat to think about all the things I want to accomplish in the day followed by a workout and if time allows I will take a dip in the ocean to cool off and refresh. This routine is the highlight of my day. I love the ocean, it invigorates me.
As a family, we always pray together before we leave the house for the day – this really unifies us. Then at the end of the day we shower up, talk about our day, what’s going on tomorrow, say our night prayers and then usually trade 5min for 5min massages while we watch a movie (haha). I’ve really learnt the power of communication, and taking the time to be interested in each other’s lives.
Life in Hawaii… is amazing. It truly is it’s own kind of paradise. Our days mainly revolve around the weather and the surf, as ridiculous as that might sound. If there’s good surf and sun we always try to get in the water. If it’s a beautiful day and we don’t take a swim or at least go to the beach it feels incomplete, for the most part I try to spend more time outside than inside.
Life is good here… I’m generally up between 6.30-7, check the surf, workout, swim and then have breakfast – either a smoothie and fruit or toast. If there’s waves we’ll surf, my husband and I usually trade off with the baby on the beach. If there are no waves then baby Roca will usually nap around mid morning and I’ll do things around the house – tidy up, emails, or things on my “to do list”. Lunch will usually be a sandwich or smoothie bowl then we’ll head to the beach for a few hours with family, maybe surf again if there’s waves or go on a hike – there are some really beautiful short hikes nearby. When we get home from the beach, depending on time, we’ll go on a walk/run or bike ride before dinner, shower up, and wind down with a movie.
True wellness is…: True wellness to me means having balance in all aspects of life! In New Zealand, where I’m from, we call it “Hauora” which is a Maori philosophy unique to NZ in which the concept of well-being encompasses the physical, mental/emotional, spiritual and social well-being. I really believe that listening to our mind, body and soul, plus being aware of ourselves personally and our environment and then doing the things necessary to nurture each of these different areas will allow you to become the best you! Embracing the good, the bad and the ugly and learning from all the different experiences life hands us. There’s a peaceful feeling that comes when life is balanced and in good order. It’s pure bliss.
On surfing: I think I was 10 the first time I went out. My friend’s dad had a long board and I got one shot on it – I was hooked! I felt like I was walking on water, I had so much adrenaline. All at once I was synced with the ocean, it was so freeing. Ever since then I dreamed of being a professional surfer (I still dream of that, haha!). That was many moons ago. When I came to Hawaii 4 years ago for college I really incorporated surfing into my life.
On teaching your son to surf: We will, for sure!! It’s become family tradition now and a huge part of our lifestyle here in Hawaii. In fact we paddle around with him on the board and push him back and forth – he’s already catching small waves with us, it’s the cutest thing!
On where and how you sweat: I feel incomplete if a day goes by and I haven’t broken a sweat or puffed. I prefer to workout outdoors, its more energizing for me. If there’s waves I’ll surf, but generally I love a good HIIT circuit followed by a solid run and a dip in the ocean. If there was a boxing class around here, I would love to do that too.
Your biggest wellness struggle: Definitely sweets! Ice cream, chocolate, lollies, and especially sweets from New Zealand! I could eat that for breakfast lunch and dinner (ha). I just finished doing ‘Junk Free June’ a campaign to raise awareness and funds toward the Cancer Society of New Zealand. It was the first time I’ve cut out junk foods like chocolate, lollies, ice cream and fast foods for a whole month. Sometimes it was definitely a battle, but overall I felt soooo good during that month! Now that June is over, I do eat these things, but overall I’m better at moderation. Also, I struggle to get enough sleep. With a baby I spend most of my day playing and running around after him, so when he finally goes to sleep at night it’s crunch time doing random things. It’s a miracle if I’m asleep before midnight – I am working on that.
On how you eat: I’d say I have a more holistic approach in regards to diet and nutrition. While my diet is far from perfect, I try to eat as whole and natural as I possible. I believe in moderation and don’t cut any specific food groups out. I’m not one to eat a lot of meat but if I do it’s usually fish and sometimes chicken, I’m not a huge fan of red meat. I try to eat organic where I can, but it can be expensive sometimes. I also try my best to get the nutrients I need from food as opposed to supplements or pills – mother nature knows best right?
Thoughts on food trends: The word “trend” says it all. Whether it’s fashion or even food. Trends come and go! I’d say the best thing to do is research and steer away from these fad diets/trends. I think a lot of money is pumped into marketing these kinds of things. Get educated, eat what’s in season – it’s no coincidence that food naturally grows when it does, it obviously provides us with the needs to thrive in that environment. And if you’re living in the islands, get familiar with the coconut, there’s a reason its known as the tree of life.
To de-stress: Exercise always does it for me! Chemically it makes sense as exercise increases your endorphins which makes you happier! I like to get outdoors when I’m stressed or frustrated, breathe the fresh air, run, surf or swim in the ocean. It calms me and breaks me away from the chaos.
Tips for moms looking to incorporate their new baby into daily fitness routines: Super simple! Get a good baby carrier, and jogging stroller! This way you aren’t limited and can get out and about as you like! I love the Ergobaby carrier and my ‘uncle’ BOB stroller!! It’s really worth the investment, because you’re investing in your own well-being. Also, make realistic goals and remember why you started!
Advice or inspirational story for someone looking to transform their life through food and fitness: Before my son was born I lost my first baby – I don’t say this for sympathy. I understand this happens to many women and my heart goes out to you all. This loss was such a strange situation for me, I was 20 yrs old, and almost halfway along. I had morning sickness, the cravings, and though I worked out the entire time, my body had significantly changed. And then after all I’d experienced, we left the the hospital without a baby. It was rough. At the time, I didn’t have the breastfeeding (like a mom with a baby) to help shrink me back into shape, instead I just had a whole different body to deal. Some days were better than others and some I would feel sorry for myself and accept that this is my new body. Then I wrote on my wall, “you’re the only thing standing in your way”. I wanted another baby so bad, and I wanted to be in the best mental and physical shape to carry again. And so it began for me, my wellness quest. After all health is wealth, and health is more than what you look like in the mirror. Love your body and it will love you back. Looking back on the experience, it changed our lives for the better without doubt!
There’s a saying that I grew up with “Go Hard or Go Home”. So if you’re someone that wants to change. GO HARD!! Go for it! Put everything you got into it!! And every time you want to quit, remember why you started. Even if it;s a vain reason (ha). I know it’s easier said than done, that’s often the case. But at the end of the day, we are the captain of our ship and we ultimately decide where our boat goes.
Advice for making better food choices: I definitely need to heed my own advice. Basically, good things take time and patience is key. Take the time to prepare food, to find recipes and make healthy snacks. And always have fresh produce on hand. When there’s nothing to eat, you will eat the first thing in sight, be it healthy or not. Try eating natural before processed. Get in the good stuff first, and hopefully by then it is enough to hold you over or fill you up. Lastly, don’t even THINK about walking down the candy and ice cream aisle, and close your eyes when you are checking out so you aren’t lured in by all the treats on sale right there (I may or may not be guilty of this haha).
How has your relationship to exercise changed since becoming a mom and will you teach your son about the importance of fitness?: I’ve become even more passionate about exercise since becoming a mum. I’ve seen how it has a positive effect on my life leaving me energized and upbeat to be a better wife and a fun mum. My workouts have definitely gotten shorter, but I have learnt how to make the most out of my time. When my husband watches my son, exercising serves as the best “me time” to re-evaluate. But I generally exercise with my boy in toe therefore he will learn through experience by involving him in what I do.
If you could live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or the body of a 30 yr old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want? That’s easy, the body of a 30 yr old!! That way I could still be active which in turn would keep my brain working. Therefore I’d essentially end up having the body AND the mind of a 30 yr old – except with 90 years of life experience 🙂
If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be? There’s many things I dream of being, but I think my first thought would be “humbleness”. I believe mastering this quality would allow me to ALWAYS be grateful for what I have and appreciate where I am in life, knowing there’s someone who’s always worse off.
Natural beauty tips that instantly refreshes your look: I’m pretty simple when it comes to getting ready – usually a cold shower or rinse of the face refreshes my look. Then pretty much towel dry, shake it around and flick back, or up in a top knot. If I have a few pimples maybe I’ll spot cover them – for special occasions a bit of mascara to open my eyes and VWALA!
Any recent health discovery or beauty secrets that we should be in the know about?: I don’t think there’s much of a secret at all. I live by the acronym K.I.S- “Keep It Simple”. Eat good nutritious food, keep the body moving, drink plenty water, get sufficient sleep, serve others, and find the things in life that you enjoy! When you’re at peace within, your natural beauty radiates.
Morning and night skincare regime: My skin is far from perfect and I almost wish I had something amazing to tell you – I simply wash my face with a hot cloth, then splash with cold water to refresh, pat dry and then apply a little coconut oil. Every now and then I will do a coffee scrub or a bentonite clay face mask.
Your fitness routine: I’m not big on routines, but my general plan is to run at least 4 times a week (usually Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday) On Monday and Friday I do a full body HIIT circuit and then isolate specific areas on Wednesday and Saturday. Tuesday I usually have Tahitian dance training as well and on Thursday I like to slow down a bit with some yoga or pilates. And any days that I get to do something active other than a structured workout like surfing or hiking is a bonus!
Fitness uniform: I have always been the type that made do with what I had, nothing fancy, and could never bring myself to spend a lot of money on workout clothes – I’m all about them bargains, haha! But if I had my choice of brands, I love lululemon and nike. Living in Hawaii with the heat, it’s generally a pair of short shorts or spandex, a nice supportive sports bra and loose tank, with my legendary pair of nikes that I’ve had forever – run ’em till they can’t run no more 🙂