Any mother will know that whether she means to or not, the kids, the husband, work, friends, in fact everything tends to come before her own needs and as a result ultimately her own health. Women who were completely in control of their weight prior to getting married will repeatedly report gaining weight post wedding and then post babies to end up 20+ kg heavier in their late 30’s and 40’s and feeling unattractive, tired and fatigued as a result.
While easier said than done, as a mother, partner or career in general, there is no doubt that prioritising your own health and fitness needs is imperative to be able to muster the energy you need on a daily basis to optimally care for your loved ones. If you are overweight, feeling constantly exhausted and physically unfit it is not difficult to see that it is going to be challenging to be at your best.
First and foremost taking control of your own health and fitness is going to mean prioritising your own food intake. This means that rather than eating the kid’s leftovers, or cooking what your husband wants for dinner, it is time to start asking yourself what you need to eat well and base your meal choices around that. It does not matter that the kids do not like vegetables, or that your husband prefers a heavier meal, if you know that you need to eat your dinner easier, stick to meat and vegetables in the week or have soup a few nights for weight control, you need to start doing it. As is the case with any relationships, we teach other how to treat us. If you are used to putting yourself after everyone else in your family, it is going to take a little time to reeducate them. Once though you start to make it clear that your own health needs are important, over time your family will accept that and you will be surprised how supportive they will be once you make your needs heard and are exceptionally clear about them.
Checking your key nutrients is the second step in a mothers complete diet overhaul. Key nutrients involved in energy production including iron and zinc as well as Vitamin E, omega 3 fats and iodine all tend to be at risk in the diets of busy women, simply, because foods that are grabbed on the run tend to contain few of them. Banana breads and cakes at coffee shops, plain sandwiches and fruit leftover from the kids and pasta and rice meals offer far less nutritionally then sushi, lean meat, eggs and vegetables; foods which need to be incorporated into a busy mums diet daily. This may mean getting out of bed earlier to make yourself some eggs on toast (or training your husband to do so), making your own lunch before the kids or taking better foods options with you when you go to meet friends for coffee, but they are the daily food decisions that really do add up.
Finally but most importantly, the key differentiating factor that stands out between mums who look after their weight and those who struggle to exercise regularly and eat well is that those who do make it a priority and give themselves time each day to. If you are not used to taking time for self, start with just an hour each week of “you” time” with the aim of building to an hour each day. Not only will you have time to exercise and think about your own food needs but the time to remind yourself of who you were before you gave it all to everyone else.