We’re kicking off our 2021 Meet a Mom series with this incredible and inspiring mom blogger, Joni Manradge. Joni is on a health and fitness journey and she’s holding herself accountable, and empowering other women, by documenting the ups and downs of her wellness journey. Joni grew up in New Rochelle and currently lives there with her husband and two children. I loved talking with Joni because she is refreshingly authentic, she has a true appreciation for our community, and she’s super relatable. But my favorite part about her? Her whole approach is about how it’s never too late to make a lifestyle change. She believes that you always have the time to make small changes that lead to big, and lasting, improvements. Learn more about this amazing Mom and make sure to follow her journey SweatLiftEat.
Where are you from originally and where do you live now?
I am from New Rochelle, and live here as well.
How did you decide to settle in the Sound Shore?
It is familiar to me since I grew up here, and I love the diversity of being in the Sound Shore and being close to the water as well.
How many kids do you have and what are their ages?
I have two children, they are 10 and 6.
What do you love about living in the Sound Shore?
The diversity as well as being close to the beaches.
What are your go-to restaurants and shops in the Sound Shore?
I love Maria New Rochelle for sit down and ambiance. For takeout food, my go-to’s are Westchester Taco, The Beechmont (best wings ever), for Pizza, there are so many options, but I have to highlight Pizza Centre, Fratelli Pizza & Pasta, Alfredo’s Pizza Café. Shops I love to visit – Stefanie’s Kloset for fun kids fashion, Palmer and Purchase and TP Toys.
What’s your favorite way to spend time with your family?
Sometimes it is just sitting in the living room and watching a movie or a show that the kids love on a Saturday night, or a lot of times it is just being with them and listening to what the kids are talking about.
How do you spend “me time”?
I love taking walks outside to listen to nature (it sounds cheesy, but it is so relaxing to me). I also love to workout anyway I can. It is my time to zone out and not think of anything else. In addition, I love to drive far distances in my car and listen to books or podcasts.
How did you get into blogging?
I have always wanted to express my thoughts and feelings about subjects that are close to my heart as well as with people who can identify with what I am expressing.
What do you hope to achieve with your own blog?
I want women of my age to know and realize it is not too late to be whoever it is they want to be. I am reshaping my body after years of not making my health a priority. I show that through my Instagram feed by putting up my workout milestones, my triumphs and my failures so that they see that it is not a pretty process to get to where you want to be.
I understand you’ve been on a fitness journey. What was the catalyst for that?
I have always wanted to have a healthy look and feel to my body, but I never put forth the effort before. So I am putting myself out there for accountability and to show people that they can do it too, no matter what age they are.
Nurturing a positive body image in children is a very important part of parenting. How do you encourage a positive body image with your own children?
I try my best to show my kids that I am always working to make my body as healthy as I can by fueling it with good foods as well as moving my body as often as I can. They may not want to eat some of the foods that I eat, but I want them to see what I am doing so that they may emulate it at some point in their life.
Are there any parenting tools or resources you recommend?
Not particularly. I rely a lot on my best judgment at the time. I think it is imperative to listen to your gut. Sometimes people want to ask and survey others on what to do, that they can get to a point of action paralysis – where they have so much information that they don’t know what to do, or they don’t want to feel judged by their peers.
Has COVID-19 impacted your professional and/or family life?
It has. We have definitely scaled back a lot on what outdoor or group activities we attend, and we haven’t visited family as much as we used to. I never realized how much we visited each other until this time. Even the upcoming holidays will be different because we will not go to visit family. In terms of the schooling, it has definitely taken a toll as I am home with the kids to ensure that they are doing the best that they can with their schoolwork.
How do you juggle motherhood, parenting and your professional life? Any tips for keeping it all together?
Ahh. That is a loaded question! Really it has boiled down to taking it one day at a time, and at other times one hour at a time. This year, especially, has really tried our patience as mothers, and sometimes we want to just scream or roll into a ball and cry. At the end of the day, if we take all of the items we have and break them down into doable tasks, then we can work through it. We also have to be okay with things not getting done. I know that this year has REALLY helped me to prioritize the items that need to be done first and foremost. It is so important to have your inner circle of people that you can chat to about things that weigh heavily on you. Your inner circle really consists of people who you can honestly talk to and know you will never be judged for what you’re saying or how you feel.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve gotten from another mom?
The best piece of advise I’ve received is to trust your gut and know that whatever you choose to do is the best that you can decide to do with what knowledge you have at the time.