Juanina Kocher in HATCH JeansJuanina Kocher in HATCH Jeans

Juanina Kocher Shares Her Wellness Tips for Mindful Mamas

By Ruthie Friedlander

In life’s dynamic and often unpredictable journey, few stories resonate with the spirit of transformation and balance as poignantly as that of Juanina Kocher. From navigating the fast-paced world of hospitality and food PR to embracing the holistic realms of health coaching and yoga, Juanina’s pivot towards wellness was not just a career change but a profound life recalibration. Her narrative, rooted in the challenges and revelations of a COVID-19-themed 2020, reflects a deeper quest for meaning and well-being amidst global upheaval. As a beacon for those seeking to harmonize professional ambitions with personal health and family responsibilities, Juanina’s experience offers invaluable insights.

Here, we delve into her inspiring journey, exploring how adversity sparked a transformation, leading her to found Flex + Flow Wellness. Balancing her roles as a health coach, yoga teacher, and a mother on the verge of welcoming her third child, Juanina navigates the delicate art of self-care, family life, and professional growth with grace and resilience. Join us as we journey into wellness with Juanina, uncovering lessons in balance, adaptability, and a really freakin’ good bodysuit.

Journey into Wellness: 

Can you share your journey from hospitality to becoming a health coach and yoga teacher? What inspired this transition?

2020 forced this transition for me. I worked in the restaurant and hospitality world for 20+ years before transitioning into the wellness space. I always had an interest in yoga, and I remember back in 2013 looking into IIN (Institute of Integrative Nutrition). At the time, my career in food PR and marketing was just starting to grow, so I opted to stick to it at the time. 

When COVID-19 emerged in 2020, and the restaurant industry was hit, my work started to slow, and I saw this as a perfect opportunity to get both my yoga teacher training and health coaching certifications. I began building Flex + Flow Wellness as more of a side hustle, but when winter rolled around and the restaurant industry stopped, it became my full-time job. 

Balancing Act: 

As a mother of two, soon to be three, how do you balance your personal health and wellness routines and your family responsibilities?

I have to say, it’s not easy! Something has to give a little. We can not “do it all” without some sacrifice. I consider my personal health part of my responsibility to my family. If I’m not feeling well, I’m not momming well. 

A few simple things I like to do every day to maintain my sanity are:

Keep my morning and evening routines simple and stick to them.

Being flexible. The one thing that most certainly happens when you become a mom is that you very quickly realize your time is no longer yours. Make a plan, but know it may (and will likely) need to shift. For example, as part of my morning routine, I drink lime water and green juice, take my probiotics, ice roll the hell out of my face, and try to get in a 5-10-minute meditation. That meditation will sometimes need to turn into a car or walking meditation or perhaps even a before-bed moment if the day gets really crazy, but I always get in it. 

A quick morning workout. This is often a 5-minute standing arm or a quick stretch while my boys are having breakfast or watching TV (no shame in using screens when needed y’all!). If I don’t get a proper workout, I’ve at least done something. 

Eating my veggies. I know this sounds trite, but focusing on eating whole foods helps me feel good. I love to eat all the foods, so even if I’m having a more indulgent meal, I try to add some greens or sauerkraut (I love fermented foods) to balance it all out. 

Prioritizing sleep is literally everything. This is very hard to do in the early months with babies, but it gets easier. Most people need 7-9 hours of sleep to feel fully recovered. I shoot for seven to eight. 

Pregnancy Wellness:

How has your approach to wellness and yoga changed during your pregnancies, especially now with your third on the way?

I’ve become more flexible and less rigid. My 1-hour long yoga flows have been reduced to 5-10 min workouts 1-2 times a day most days. I eat many of my kid’s leftovers, including pizza and mac and cheese. It’s easy to flourish in the wellness space when you’re young and have no tiny humans to care for. You have all the time in the world to do all of the *things*. It, of course, takes work, but as you add to your life, you must be gentler. You cannot do the same things you were once able to do. 

Tailored Coaching: 

You emphasize tailoring wellness coaching to individual needs. Can you describe how you adapt your approach for different clients, especially expecting mothers?

YES! This goes back to flexibility. In coaching, you have to know your audience. I would guide a first-time expectant mother differently than a working mom of older children. When working with clients, I must be flexible in my thought process (as all coaches do, honestly), as everyone is different. Different needs, schedules, and seasons of life. I like to get to know my clients as friends and meet them where they are. This said it does help to keep your focus somewhat niched down. When doing more one-on-one coaching, I focused on moms, particularly working moms and mothers who needed postpartum support.

Healthy Eating Habits: 

With your deep love for food and extensive experience in the hospitality industry, what are your top tips for maintaining a healthy diet without compromising on taste and enjoyment?

As I said earlier…I LOVE food. It truly brings me happiness to be in the kitchen, cook, and/or go out to dinner. My top tips would be: 

Start your day with a green juice or smoothie with greens. If the rest of your day goes a little nuts, you’ve started with something good for your body. 

Find easy ways to add veggies to your meals. This can be a side of sauerkraut, a small salad, adding veggies to your pasta, etc. One trick that’s actually great for kids as well is to puree cauliflower and add it to literally any pasta sauce. You don’t taste it, and it adds a nice creamy texture. You can do this with other veggies as well. 

Try sticking to whole foods as much as possible. It’s the processed stuff and excess sugar that can get us. Be sure your food has a label that you’re reading it, and you know what you’re eating. 

Stay hydrated. Drinking half your body weight in water is a good gauge. More if you drink coffee or alcohol or are going out to eat/eating salty foods. This will not only help you feel fuller but also aid in digestion. 

Style and Comfort: 

Being in the wellness space and a mother, how do you blend style and comfort in your daily wardrobe, and has this evolved during your pregnancies?

One thing about me is that I have to be comfortable. I tend to have a very athletic style, so athleisure type pieces are essential for my day-to-day. During the cooler months, I love a cozy sweater and leggings. During the warmer months, I’m all about a flowy maxi dress or simple jeans and a tank. I live in my Hatch Ultimate Leggings, and I love Body Ribbed Unitard (as seen below) as I can dress it up or down. I’m all about versatile pieces that can take me from lounging around the house to my yoga mat to a night out. I would say the only part of my style that has evolved with having children is I wear a lot more hats because I never have time to do my hair. 

Beauty Routines: 

Could you share some of your favorite beauty routines or products that align with a wellness-focused lifestyle, particularly ones you find beneficial during pregnancy?

My non-negotiables, especially during pregnancy, include:

Going to see my chiropractor. This is a huge one for me, especially since I have multiple children and very high-energy little men. Between being super active, picking up and putting down my kids, playing with them, etc, a monthly adjustment is critical. 

Lymphatic drainage massage. I always dry brush before showering, which is great, but during pregnancy, especially if you can swing a full-on treatment, I highly recommend it. When you’re pregnant, you tend to hold water, and your circulation can suffer due to the pressure on your legs. This type of massage is incredibly helpful in keeping all the things moving. You also feel amazing afterward. There are just so many benefits. 

General skin and hair care. The products I use daily are pregnancy-safe, which I’m grateful for. Amala Beauty is the skincare line I use. It’s very clean and the only skincare product I’ve found that really keeps my skin from getting dry (I have super dry skin). And Vegamour for my hair. I discovered Vegamour after my extreme postpartum hair loss with my second and have found it very helpful in bringing my hair back to life. 

Mindfulness Practices: 

How do you incorporate mindfulness or mental well-being practices into your daily routine, and how do you encourage your clients to do the same?” 

I meditate daily, even for 5 minutes, and encourage clients to do the same. Even just a few moments of deep breathing is so beneficial. In today’s world, we are constantly in a state of fight or flight, and most people spend their days taking shallow breaths. 

Find a little time for yourself every day. This could be as simple as taking a few extra minutes in your car to listen to your favorite song, taking a walk, or having drinks with a friend. Again, in the early days of motherhood, this is not as likely to happen but do your best. 

Work-Life Balance Advice: 

What advice would you give to other working mothers striving to achieve a healthy work-life balance, particularly in the wellness and hospitality sectors?

This is literally one of my favorite topics to discuss. Being a working mom is freaking hard, and finding work-life balance is a challenge with or without children. When you have children and are going back to work, you really need to set yourself up for success. You can do this by having a going-to-back work plan you feel comfortable with and having very serious conversations with your partner about how things will look at home (e.g., domestic tasks). There’s work outside the home, and then there are the million and one things that need to be done at home. This can often be a very big pain point for new mothers. Be sure you have adequate childcare. Do not skimp here. You can not be working + stay at home with young children. Nowadays, SO many women attempt some version of this. Our schedules are more flexible, and many of us work from home, which can be good, but if you work full-time, you need full-time help. Period. If you burn yourself out, your mental health and relationship with your partner will suffer. 

Future Aspirations: 

What are your aspirations for Flex + Flow Wellness Coaching + Consulting, and how do you see your experiences as a mother shaping its evolution?

It’s funny; I started Flex + Flow Wellness because I was shifting out of the restaurant space. When the restaurant industry made a comeback, I added the consulting facet of the business because there was a big need, and it was also the area in which I had been the most experienced. I plan to focus again on coaching and dropping the consulting in the coming years (I would say 2-3). Since starting F+F, I went from being a mom of 1 to a mom of soon-to-be three. I have learned SO much. I feel like I’m currently in school, in a way. It’s not to say I know it all. All mothers, children, and journeys are different, but I know I have much helpful knowledge to share in the prenatal and postpartum spaces. This is what I want F+F to become eventually. Support for women who are expecting and preparing for motherhood. As first-time moms, we get so consumed with what stroller or car seat to get, setting up the nursery, and the maternity shoots that we forget about what we *really* should be thinking about. Things like sleep deprivation (and how these nights will be managed with your partner), divvying up household tasks, boundaries with family and friends, and what our support system will look like after the baby. Being clear on your feelings (and communicating them) in regards to these topics, and so many more,  are crucial to help ensure a happier and healthier postpartum experience