Lifestyle & Fitness Coach Monica Bencomo Prioritizes Self Above All Else
In xoNecole's series Mother/Hustler, we sit down with influential mom bosses who open up about the ups and downs of motherhood, as well as how they kill it in their respective industries, all while keeping their sanity and being intentional about self-care.
If you thought being a full-time business owner while homeschooling two small children and still managing to get a full-body workout in is hard, try doing it while you're 34 weeks pregnant. While many of us would shudder at the thought, there is one smooth Mother/Hustler that accepts this challenge with a smile.
32-year-old founder of Moms Wear Heels, Monica Bencomo is a force of nature that knows that securing a bag means nothing if you don't secure yourself, first, sis.
No one is immune to burnout, not even this seemingly superhuman Lifestyle and Fitness Coach who shared that she deeply understands the struggle of trying to fill from an empty cup. She told xoNecole, "As a recovering people pleaser, I'd often go out of my way to ensure all my clients were happy, and I'd overgive and overperform. That led to burnout."
Monica, who will soon be a mother-of-three, says that while her plate is often full, it's only full of the projects she chooses to say yes to. "Nah" is a complete sentence, and when given the choice between securing a check and securing her sanity, Monica chose the latter. "Realizing my kids had to come first, and that I wanted to give them a happy mom (not a burned-out one) forced me to say 'no' to anyone or anything who wanted more than I thought was fair."
As a full-time wife, mother, and business owner, Monica says that hustling ain't easy, but most things that are aren't really worth having, are they? We caught up with Monica, who gave us the tea on how she manages to balance motherhood, entrepreneurship, and self-care at the same damn time. Here's what she had to say:
How do you handle moments when you feel overwhelmed?
"I pray. Then I remind myself in that moment of what my most important priorities are. Then I tackle them accordingly."
When do you feel most productive?
"The morning--I am such a morning person. I wake up before my kids so I can have alone time, and get my creative work done. The morning is when I feel most optimistic, and when I have the most energy to conquer the day."
What’s the hardest part of your day?
"That's usually towards the end of the day, after many hours of homeschooling, working from home, tidying up, and taking care of everyone when my energy begins to wane and I still have to do nighttime baths, reading, and planning for the next day."
How (and how often) do you practice self-care?
"Every. Day. I won't get out of bed until I've meditated, prayed, gone over my gratitude, and asked for guidance. For me, self-care is not an option or a luxury; it's vital to my overall health and happiness as a mom."
What is your advice for dealing with mom guilt?
"Check yourself, guilt isn't always something to shun away. Sometimes guilt serves as a painful reminder that we need to shift something in our lifestyle. I believe you can be a great mom and go after your dreams, but there is a delicate balance only your heart will be able to weigh. I always guide my clients to listen to what their emotions are trying to communicate with them. Guilt may have something to teach you in that moment."
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned as an entrepreneur?
"That no one will work for or believe in you or your dreams if you don't--and that not everyone will like you--or understand you--sometimes even family and friends. And that's okay! Your destiny is your business--not theirs."
What is the most important lesson you want your kid(s) to learn from you?
"Most of all, I want them to exemplify self-love--to live in this world knowing that they matter--their contributions, gifts, and unique traits. It breaks my heart to see so many young people suffering from depression and anxiety due to not feeling valuable because they're comparing themselves to IG models or reality stars! I want my kids to be thinkers, have discernment, and believe in themselves in a world that constantly tries to make them feel insecure; which drives my work and my mission with Moms Wear Heels today."
Why was it important to you to be an entrepreneur even though some people may think that a 9-5 offers more stability?
"It's been my experience that 9-5s do not offer stability--I've been let go of 'safe' jobs I hated due to budget cuts and am grateful for that happening so that now, I have the courage to work for myself. Once I graduated from college and everyone asked where I wanted to work, I intuitively knew it had to be for me. No job was attractive enough to cause me to trade time away from my kids for money. And as Jim Carey said, 'We can fail at what you don't want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.' I've been an entrepreneur for 8 years and have no intention of turning around now."
What advice do you have when it comes to time management as a mogul mommy?
"So many women I've worked with have told me they don't have time for the things they claim they want in life--whether it's exercising or chasing a dream. We all have the same 24 hours in a day--so do a time audit and really see where your time is going. Are you on social media too long? Are you chilling with Netflix or YouTube when you could be growing your business? Be honest and investigate where your time and energy is going on a daily basis, and reprioritize where necessary."
How has being a mother helped you become a better entrepreneur (or vice versa)?
"Being a mom woke me up to my potential. Being a mother has also made me become more organized and better at time management. I realized that every 'yes' I'd give others was a 'no' I was giving to my kids and family. And that helped me to draw fierce boundaries as a businesswoman! As a mother, I only say 'yes' to things that I really want to say 'yes' to, and I've learned that 'no, thank you' really is a complete sentence."
What tips do you have for financial planning, both professionally and for your family?
"Have family meetings. If you're married, you and your partner need to be on the same page. If you're single, you can do this yourself. My husband and I meet weekly and monthly to go over things like finances, goals, etc so we're on the same page. Develop a vision as a family, and practice discipline! If you decide you want to buy a home in the next two years, for example, plan to spend more frugally and save a certain amount each time you're paid. Set tangible goals you can measure. And check progress each time you meet."
To learn more about Monica and join the Moms Wear Heels Movement, follow her on Instagram @MomsWearHeels!
Featured image courtesy of @MomsWearHeels.
Taylor "Pretty" Honore is a spiritually centered and equally provocative rapper from Baton Rouge, Louisiana with a love for people and storytelling. You can probably find me planting herbs in your local community garden, blasting "Back That Thang Up" from my mini speaker. Let's get to know each other: @prettyhonore.
This New Scalp Care Line Is Exactly What Your Wash Days Need
This post is in partnership with SheaMoisture.
When it comes to healthy hair care, there are a few things that will help you achieve healthy strands: a healthy hair care regime, hydration, consistent treatments, and scalp care. While scalp care is one of the most neglected practices, it is also one of the most important. Why? Because it helps promote healthy hair growth, clear hair follicles, and remove build-up.
When it comes to creating a healthy scalp routine, it helps to know exactly what you’re up against so you know how to specifically treat it. Two of the most common concerns are dandruff and dry scalp. It can be tough to decipher which is which, but here’s a quick breakdown: dry scalp is caused by a lack of moisture in the skin, while dandruff is caused by an excess of oil and yeast buildup on the scalp. Knowing that both of these are big concerns, SheaMoisture released two separate product lines to address both issues: the Scalp Moisture collection and the Anti-Dandruff collection.
Needless to say, if you tend to experience dandruff then I’d recommend you try the Anti-Dandruff collection. However, my biggest concern has always been dry scalp. A lack of moisture on the scalp can be caused by several factors like weather, age, and hair products to name a few. I’ve noticed that when I use certain gels or skip out on a deep scalp cleanse, my roots feel itchy and dry nonstop, which is uncomfortable.
The only way to relieve the discomfort is to properly wash and moisturize my roots, so I tried the Scalp Moisture collection and this is what I thought.
Krissy Lewis for xoNecole
First, What’s In The Collection?
The Scalp Moisture collection is a four-product line that includes a pre-wash masque, a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner, and a moisturizing scalp cream. Each product uses moisturizing and strengthening ingredients like aloe butter and vitamin B3 as active ingredients to provide eight times the moisture. Together, aloe butter and vitamin B3 work to restore dry and brittle hair, as well as add relief to the scalp.
Now, let’s break down each product…
Krissy Lewis for xoNecole
Scalp Moisture Pre-Wash Masque
The SheaMoisture Scalp Moisture Pre-Wash Masque may actually be the all-star of the collection. Using this deep conditioning masque is one of the best ways to target your dry scalp, restore hydration, and nourish your strands before shampooing.
I started by completely saturating my hair and scalp with water, then making small sections to apply the masque directly to the root. For my girls who have experience with relaxers and perms, it helps to apply the masque to your roots just like you would do with a relaxer. This way you can make sure you’ve covered as much of your scalp as possible while minimizing any breakage.
Pro tip: you can also use a color application brush to make this step easier.
After I completely covered my scalp, I massaged the product into my roots, used any excess on my strands, then left the masque in for 30 minutes. I was shocked by how moisturizing and clarifying my scalp and hair felt. One of the things that I love about the masque is the slip and how much softer it made my hair. While this is marketed as a scalp care product, it can completely transform your hair from dry and parched to completely hydrated.
In my opinion, the downside of this masque is that the quantity is too small for my liking. Truth be told, naturals go through deep conditioners faster than any other product (especially when it’s this good.) So SheaMoisture, if you’re reading this, we’d love a bigger jar.
Krissy Lewis for xoNecole
Scalp Moisture Shampoo
The SheaMoisture Scalp Moisture Shampoo is a gentle cleanser packed with the same moisture as the masque. The pearl-colored shampoo is lightweight with a serum-like consistency and a light and clean scent. The smell is pleasant, subtle, and not overbearing. When I applied the shampoo, I noticed immediately that it foams and lathers up very quickly, so less is more.
After applying the shampoo, I parted my hair and started at the roots to target as much of my scalp as possible. I recommend really taking the time to work the product and massage your scalp as much as possible.
Pro tip: using a scalp massager makes it easier and it feels amazing.
Once you start to massage your hair you’ll feel the product start to work. There’s a tingling sensation that might catch you off guard if you’re not used to it, but it’s not nearly as strong as other scalp products I’ve tried. I know some may not appreciate the sensation, but I loved it! My scalp felt clean, light, and breathable.
Krissy Lewis for xoNecole
Scalp Moisture Conditioner
Like the shampoo, the SheaMoisture Scalp Moisture Conditioner shares that pearly color and serum-like feel. It applies very easily while softening and moisturizing your hair. When I applied it to my hand, it gave my hands a lotion-like feel, which speaks volumes about its hydration capabilities. I also loved that the conditioner comes with a pump, instead of having to squeeze the product out – to me, it makes application easier.
I typically apply my conditioner to the ends first but because this is a scalp care product I started at the root and worked my way down to my ends. I did leave the conditioner in for ten minutes, although the bottle recommends leaving it in for three. The conditioner also provides that same breathable feel to your scalp. I honestly loved the relief.
Krissy Lewis for xoNecole
Scalp Moisture Cream
The SheaMoisture Scalp Moisture Cream is more of a daily relief product for your roots rather than your overall hair. It’s great for providing moisture and immediate relief to a dry and itchy scalp. Just like most of the collection, it gives a light and breathable feel – without the tingle. The applicator bottle targets specific parts of your scalp and makes applying easier.
Pro tip: I typically just squeeze the bottle to wherever I need the relief and use the tip to massage it into my scalp so it doesn’t mess up the hairstyle.
Overall, SheaMoisture’s scalp care line lives up to its claims – it moisturizes, strengthens, and provides immediate scalp relief. I definitely recommend trying the Scalp Moisture collection for an affordable way to treat itchy and dry scalp.
Featured image by Krissy Lewis for xoNecole
7 Underrated Signs That He's Truly 'Marriage Material'
While in an interview a few months back, someone asked me what I personally thought it meant for someone to be “marriage material.” Off top, the first thing that came out of my mouth is that it had to be an individual who actually desires marriage (more on that in a bit) because that kind of person will be proactive about doing what needs to be done in order to prepare for that kind of life journey.
Another indication that someone is marriage material is they don’t see marriage as just “a long-term relationship.” Yeah, don’t get me started on the fact that a part of the reason why divorce is so high now is people think that a boyfriend/girlfriend dynamic is the same thing as a husband/wife one. It absolutely is not. Marriage-minded folks hold marriage in high regard, which means that they seek out someone who isn’t a “we’ll see how it goes” when it comes to relationships; nah, they are looking for the complement who will be far more permanent. Marriage-minded people are vow-keepers (‘til death do us part), not just sentiment-sayers (I love you, boo).
Marriage material — and please get this one all the way down in your spirit — is also about not just sitting around rah-rahing about what you deserve. What I mean by that is people are not truly ready for marriage if they’ve got a what-I-want-in-a-spouse list that is 10 miles long, yet they aren’t even 30 percent of what’s on the list themselves. Listen, I will forever say until every single cow comes home that if you are out here declaring what you DESERVE in someone else, that means, by definition, that you are QUALIFIED to have all of those things. And qualified means “having the qualities, accomplishments, etc. that fit a person for some function, office, or the like” (which is why you can’t be out here dictating what you deserve without hearing what others feel that they deserve in return).
Geeze. With all of this out in the open, I probably should write an article about signs that a woman is ready for marriage (noted). For now, let’s dive into some unsung signs that a man is truly marriage material — so that you can discern, quicker, who is the better “husband fit” for you.
1. He Knows His Purpose
We’re gonna have to take this article to church a bit because, when it comes to the topic of marriage, it’s my personal opinion that a lot of them don’t last because people fail to factor in the spiritual component that can help them to truly see the distance. And when it comes to men, if you look at the Bible, two things that Adam (the first husband who’s in the Good Book) had before his wife was BROUGHT (he didn’t pursue her; she was brought, by God, to him — Genesis 2:24-25) his way is he had a relationship with God and a life purpose (Genesis 1-2).
And since the way that a woman is first defined in Scripture is being a helpmate (the Hebrew term for this is ezer kenegdo which translates into lifesaver — Genesis 2:18) to a man — does it make sense to marry someone when you don’t know what you’re helping out because he doesn’t know what he’s here to do in life? How can you complement what is so vague and unsure?
That’s why I’m not a fan of folks expecting marriage during college. College should be about figuring out who you are outside of your parents and also discovering what you want your life path to look like. If you come into school knowing and you’re consistent about it, cool. Yet if you have no idea, that’s okay too; take your time and get some clarity.
Anyway, bottom line here is, some definitions of purpose are “the reason for which something exists or is done, made, used, etc.” and “an intended or desired result; end; aim; goal,” and when a man is purpose-minded, there is a level of clarity, maturity, and moving-with-intention about him that is totally unmatched. That’s part of the reason why the late and super great Dr. Myles Munroe was so big on men knowing what their purpose is in life — it says a lot about him.
So, if you’re currently seeing someone and it seems like he’s dragging along as far as moving forward in your relationship, I recommend asking him, “Do you know your purpose?” It will reveal a lot about him. It can also bring some insights on if you’re a good fit for each other — whether right now or later. Trust me. Try it.
2. His Dating Life Is Intentional Instead of Random
Men who are ready for marriage don’t tend to be vague about it; they realize that time is of the essence, so they tend to make that pretty clear upfront. Another thing? Their actions will line up with their words.
Now, this doesn’t mean that they will be racing to the altar in a year or less; however, what I can assure you is that marriage-minded men are not going to be out here casually dating. Casual literally means things like “without definite or serious intention” and “seeming or tending to be indifferent to what is happening; relaxed; nonchalant,” and no man who is gearing up for a wife rolls in this kind of head or even heart space.
I will give a heads-up that, initially, this doesn’t automatically mean that he will be exclusive with you — and honestly, he shouldn’t have to be. If he wants to figure out who his right life partner is, he should “interview” a few women (same goes for you if you desire a husband). However, the process will not drag out for years on end, and once he has figured out who the one is for him, he tends to have no problem not just cutting other ties but getting engaged sooner than later.
In other words, I don’t know too many marriage-minded men who take more than a couple of years to not just date someone but get engaged in that timeframe, too (check out “Experts Say You Should Date This Long Before Getting Married”). That’s why, if you find yourself dating someone for several Christmases, you definitely should ask them if marriage is even on their radar. Chances are (especially if they are over 35 as a guy)…it isn’t.
3. He’s Seen a Therapist. Or a Life Coach. Or Both.
Uh-huh. If the first thing that came to your mind is, “Yes, please see a therapist,” honestly, it is my opinion that ANYONE WHO WANTS TO GET MARRIED should do so. I don’t mean go to premarital counseling once you are already in a serious relationship or engaged (although yes, you should definitely do that, too); I mean that…getting prepared for marriage includes making sure that your mental and emotional health and well-being are in a really good space and a therapist and/or life coach can help to make that happen.
Should you see both? Maybe. Check out my article, “Thinking About Hiring A Life Coach? Read This Before You Do,” so that you can get some clarity on that. What I will say, for now, is that a therapist tends to deal with things of your past as they offer up some tips and insights on how to handle your present and future, while life coaches (ICF-certified ones, that is) focus on asking you the kinds of questions that can help you to get a handle on how to handle your present and future.
I have a male friend who is the COO of a life coaching company, and one of the things that he and I have discussed is a lot of men who are serious about planning for their future will see a life coach, especially when it comes to their professional life; the main reason is that it can help them to get things organized so that they are prepared for a wife and family.
My takeaway from that? Asking a man, eh, maybe 4-5 dates in, if they have ever seen a therapist or life coach could be pretty revealing. Because even if the topic of marriage has not even been broached yet, what it can reveal is how proactive he is about getting his life in order — and that’s always a good thing.
4. He Can Clearly Articulate Plans for His Future Wife
Thanks — yet no thanks — to rom-coms, far too many people think that it’s fine to get married just on feelings alone. Yeah, please don’t do that. It’s also another article for another time that people who are serious about wanting to get married will be in a consistent state of preparation whether they are in a relationship or not.
When it comes to what that looks like for a man, one thing to keep in mind is he will be able to clearly articulate what he desires in a wife (by the way, please don’t try and challenge a man about what he wants; he has to live with her and, besides, you wouldn’t want him to do that to you. Either y’all are a good fit or not, yet don’t attempt to control his own narrative). Not only that, but he’ll be able to explain why he thinks a wife would be a good fit for him in this season, what he wants to bring into his future wife’s world, and some of the short- and long-term plans that he has for her and their marriage.
In other words, he won’t be like a guy I know (who is now divorced after 15 years of marriage) who, when I asked him why he was getting married (when he pretty much sucked even as a boyfriend), all he said was, “If I don’t do it now, I never will.” His marriage proposal was piss-poor, the marriage flailed the entire time, and even on the back end, he comes off as pretty nonchalant.
So many people’s marriages are less-than-impressive, even to them, and a huge part of the reason is that they failed to plan for their spouse and their marriage. They put a lot of thought into the wedding…and that’s about it. Red flag, red flag…RED FLAG.
5. He’s Emotionally Intelligent
Okay, so before we dive into this particular point, you might be tempted to assume that being emotionally available is the same thing as being emotionally intelligent. Yeah…not really (check out “5 Signs A Man Is Emotionally Available. 3 Signs He's Not.”).
While emotional availability is about being open to sharing your feelings and meeting the emotional needs of others, emotional intelligence is all about things like understanding emotions, articulating emotions, and maturely handling one’s emotions.
Listen, out of all of the things that we’ve already touched on here, a lot of people end up in divorce court because not only did they choose someone who was pretty emotionally unintelligent, but they also were lacking in that particular area themselves.
That said, emotionally intelligent people are:
- Proactive in praising other people
- Gracious and grateful
- Able to use more than “mad”, “sad” or “happy” to describe how they’re feeling
- Also able to receive feedback
- Great listeners
- Express themselves well
That’s 10 traits, and honestly, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what emotional intelligence requires. Yet, I’m sure you can see that if more people looked for someone who was emotionally intelligent, it would definitely make their relationship — and their life, in general — go so much more smoothly.
6. He’s Sexually Healthy
This one, boy. Okay, so when I say that he should be “sexually healthy,” I’m not just speaking of him having a cleared STD test. No, what I mean is — and this is somewhat of a Shellie-ism more than anything — I don’t really trust ANYONE who claims that they are ready for marriage while they are still out here all willy-nilly in these streets, male or female. Because if you don’t have some sort of sexual self-control leading up to your wedding day, jumping a broom isn’t really going to change much of anything. Why? Because a wedding is an outward expression of some inward adjustments and decisions that have already transpired.
So yeah, a man who is truly marriage material? It shouldn’t be odd to you if he’s been abstinent for a season (several months or more). It shouldn’t seem strange to you if he speaks of sex from less of a recreational space and more of a spiritual and intimate one. If he admits that he used to be, umm, “super-friendly” and now he wants to take things slow, don’t assume that he’s got someone on the side — it could be a form of sexual discipline that he’s displaying (and good for him).
Now that I think about it, it’s kind of wild to say, yet I’ve got several male friends (over the age of 37) who used to be beyond promiscuous, who’ve all told me that it’s been months now since they’ve had any form of sex. None of them are in a serious relationship or necessarily even looking for one; they’ve just said that sex, just to be having it, has gotten old. Plus, oftentimes, the drama that potentially comes with it isn’t worth it, so they’d prefer to focus on self-work and wait until sex with someone is more meaningful (hey, they have no reason to lie to me; we’re just friends).
Guys like this? They are pretty close to being marriage-minded. Straight up.
7. He Actually WANTS to Get Married
Final point. Although it might evoke a collective "duh" from some of y'all, you'd be amazed how many women end up wasting very precious time that they will never get back, and it's all because they got involved with a man who liked or perhaps even loved them yet he didn't desire to get married. And either because they simply assumed that he did or they thought they could "love him into" wanting to be a husband, they ended up getting their feelings hurt. Extremely so.
Another thing to keep in mind? A man who wants to get married has no problem vocalizing it very early on. Meaning, on the third date, it won't be foreign for him to say, "I would love to start a family in the next couple of years," without you even having to coax it out of him. Guys who aren't interested in marriage — they tend to deflect from the topic altogether as much as they possibly can.
As we close this all up, I will say that it's important to keep in mind that just because a man doesn't want to be a husband, that doesn't mean he's not a good guy — GREAT even. So please don't manipulate matters by thinking that a man who doesn't want to be married somehow has some sort of "issues" (check out "Single-Minded: So, What If You Like Dating But DON'T Desire Marriage?" and "12 Couples Reveal Why They're Happy With A Long-Term Commitment Instead Of Marriage"). Thinking like that speaks to your projecting more than anything else.
All I'm saying is a guy who is marriage material is a guy who will say, out of his own mouth, that marriage is on his menu, and so he will engage you in that manner — meaning, he will take time with you seriously, and if you are a good fit, he will state it; if he thinks you are not "his one," he will share that too…so that you both can get out of each other's way.
The thing about being “marriage material” is you’ve got to be cut from the kind of cloth that has marriage on your mind — not constantly yet enough to where you move with clear, thoughtful, and mature intention.Hopefully, this article sheds some (additional) light on what this looks like for a man. Hopefully, it also served as a heads up — or reminder — on what, in many ways, he’s looking for in a woman too. Proceed with discernment, y’all. And keep me posted. #winkLet’s make things inbox official!
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