Mother Leader: Chef Carla Contreras, Digital Entrepreneur & Founder of The Poppy Content Lab

Chef Carla Contreras (She/Her) is a multi-passionate digital entrepreneur and the founder of The Poppy Content Lab, a membership platform designed for food and wellness entrepreneurs to master their content to scale their businesses and grow their online communities. She’s also the host of the Show Up Fully podcast, and her work has been featured in publications like and Well+Good. 

She is also a Chef, Food Stylist, Health Coach, and mom to Ella (6) and Massimo (5). 

As a chef and culinary producer, Carla has worked on hundreds of photo shoots for well-known brands as a food stylist, photographer, recipe developer, art director, and digital content creator. For over 24 years, she’s worked professionally in the food industry and has been featured on Chopped! on the Food Network. 

Her endless curiosity for wellness and personal growth has led her to become a certified health coach from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and The Nutritious Life Studio and a life coach through Mentor Masterclass. Learn more about Carla at and follow her on instagram @chefcarla_c

How postpartum are you?

I have been healing and raising two incredible humans for the last six years. 

How have you transformed since becoming a parent?

Work: I created a work-from-home position for myself in 2018. I write, food style, photograph, and create recipes from my home instead of commuting two hours each way into NYC from NJ. It’s an incredible privilege to be able to work alongside my kiddos as they grow up. 

Body: I give myself so much grace. I have faith and trust in my healing process. I move, meditate, rest, and nourish myself to feel good in my body. It’s a practice, and I take it one workout, meal, and breath at a time. 

Parenting: I stay in my lane. What works for my family may not work for others, and that’s ok. I keep an open mind, heart, and spirit to learn and grow with my children. They are my gurus and my greatest teachers. 

Cooking: I used to make everything from scratch. I now permit myself to do what’s easy and convenient to nourish myself and my family. Pre-washed greens, cut veggies, and frozen salmon burgers are self-preservation. 

Boundaries: I have become fierce with my boundaries. I only have so much energy to give and I have to be protective of it. And it’s ok if other people don’t like it. What’s important is that I honor my highest priorities.

With the little solo time you do get, what’s your favorite thing to do?

I have a serious self-care routine. I developed the 5/5 Method in 2018 when my kiddos were 2 and 3. I had a total health meltdown from working for six months without a day off while mothering and doing all the things!

In January of 2019, I chose Rest and Deep Nourishment as my North Stars. As the year progressed I added more words: Movement, Mindfulness, and Water. I have hosted 5/5 challenges on my Instagram where I ask people to choose one and focus on it for a minimum of five days. 

When most people see the 5/5, they think they have to do “all the things” that they are failing before they even start. That is not the intention. The 5/5 is all about the quick win. Take a deep breath, winning. Fill up your water bottle, winning. What could you do for a tiny win today? I created a free journal to help people with this because we all need a quick win!

If you could describe your postpartum experience in one word, what would it be and why?

HUMBLING. After my first emergency c-section, I went from being a person who moved (barre, yoga, running) every single day to barely being able to walk one block at 10 weeks postpartum. I am still working on healing my body to this day, which includes physical therapy and Pilates.

What’s something that caught you off guard during the first 3 months of parenthood?

The amount of physical pain my body would be in from the emergency c-sections of both my children.

On a scale of 1–10, how supported did you feel as you navigated healing and learning how to take care of your baby? Why?

I was 100% supported. I have written about both of my postpartum experiences here. I wrote about my experience because I want to share what’s possible when we get the proper rest and help we need postpartum. 

If you could dream up the perfect postpartum journey, what would it look and feel like?

We would all live close to people who could take care and support us while we heal and nurture ourselves.

What’s the #1 piece of advice you’d give a brand-new parent?

It takes extreme courage to ask for and accept help. Parenthood is full of surrender and releasing control. 

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