Moms, Let’s Help Ourselves

We often forget that moms are individuals with a past and identity before having children. That moment when she finds out she’s pregnant, the focus immediately shifts from “me” to “we”, and that feeling only intensifies the older the child becomes. Therefore, in order to truly give something back to the moms in our lives, one must simply let her figure out how best she can renew herself. Everyone is different, the needs of one mom vary from one to another. One mom might need a night out with girlfriends, another a long hot bath and a good novel. The cure for what ails is bio-individual, but the need is undeniably there.

When I first became a mother, I was overwhelmed by the realization of that responsibility. Breastfeeding, tummy time, around the clock feedings and diaper changes all contributed to a culture shock I had mentally prepared for but not emotionally connected to yet. I felt extremely tired and the weight of responsibility was leveling. I had always been strong, but this new life as a mom required a higher, more intense level of resiliency I hadn’t acquired yet. I had to adapt, and I wasn’t sure how to do it. I was a fighting a losing battle against the tide, and I felt myself being pulled under.

It wasn’t until I had healed enough from giving birth and could workout, that I saw my first respite from the pull of the metaphorical undertow. The road became a lifeline to my former self to pull out of the constant drudgery of mundane daily tasks that motherhood requires. In the 30-60 minutes I was out on the pavement I felt lighter and lighter. Each step was a reclamation of my former self, and I breathed in the freedom I felt had escaped me. When I returned home, tired and exhilarated at the same time, I was at peace with my life again, and happy to dive into diaper changes, cuddling and even teething meltdowns.

Running and eventually yoga, weight lifting, and meditation, were the outlets I needed to be whole again–another mother may have a completely different set of requirements. I use myself as an example because it’s what I know for sure. What I also know without doubt is that as women, we are intrinsically selfless creatures. Sometimes we give so much of ourselves that the cup becomes empty, and that is where it becomes a matter of health.

Health is more than what is on our plates. It’s found in our relationships, our career, our connection with a higher power, and of course nutrition and exercise. It takes going inward to find out how we as mothers are doing in each of these categories, and then making the appropriate changes to make ourselves healthy and happy.

It may sound extreme at first for her to take 30-60 minutes for herself every single day, but if you think of the mother as the center of the home, it makes perfect sense to nurture her. The health and happiness of a home is almost always directly related to the sense of wellbeing of the mother. But no one can help a mother, she has to do the work and find what she needs to help herself. So mothers, do the internal work, and families support her. The result is a scenario where everyone wins, and the potential of every family member can be fully realized

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Why Diet Trumps Any Workout Regime

As we near the end of February, and the New Year’s motivation to head to the gym begins to dwindle for so many, it is important to emphasis the critical role diet plays in a person’s actual weight. I am by no means discounting the massive and documented benefits of creating and maintaining a vigorous and ever changing workout routine, however, you can also absolutely lose weight by not doing any exercise whatsoever.

The reason I can so confidently say this is because I did it. When I was a freshman in college I was out on a run and incurred a stress fracture. Besides being incredibly painful, it relegated me to a life of zero impact exercise. The only treatment prescribed was rest, and even if I wanted to disobey the doctor’s instructions, the pain was so intense, that I would not have lasted long. At first I was petrified that I was going to gain weight and never be able to get it off. Afterall, I was running 15-20 miles a week and just barely maintaining my then heavier frame of 135 pounds. What the hell was going to happen to me now that I couldn’t do anything?

My solution came slowly and timidly. I started to eliminate items from my diet that I had never really thought about before. The first thing to go was soda (duh). It was surprisingly easy. The next step was a vast reduction of bread and simple carbs (eg cereal, pizza, pasta). Next was milk and processed foods (ie anything in commercial packaging). I replaced these old favorites with raw vegetables, fruit, protein and complex carbs. As I systematically cut out known calorie and fat dense foods, I immediately began to feel clearer and lighter. The oddest discovery of all was when I removed milk my seasonal allergies virtually disappeared. They have not returned since.

The biggest impact of all, and the reason for this post, however, was that I ended up losing 25 pounds and did zero cardio. I would do an ab workout 3 times a week, but that alone would not have produced such results. I had to laugh when I thought about how much I had been killing myself, at times not even remotely enjoying the workouts–all because I thought it was what had to be done in order to maintain the status quo, and maybe even lose some weight. It became clear that it was so much easier to just cut out the processed junk, reduce calories intake, and revamp my diet with foods high in nutrition and low in calories.

Eventually my stress fracture healed and I went back to running, but not because I had to. It genuinely felt good. Since this little experiment, I no longer feel the need to punish my body during a workout. If it doesn’t feel enjoyable I simply let up a little and continue to push on a lower gear. I know now that working out is not about weight, it’s about how it makes me feel emotionally, and that elicits so much more joy in the whole experience.