Taking care of mama bear

taking care of mama bear

As mama bears, we often come last and when we push ourselves too far everyone suffers! This isn’t about losing weight but how to stay healthy with a minimum amount of effort. As a mom to a toddler everything I do has to be efficient. These tips can help you stay healthy while getting through the baby/toddler years.

Self care

I mentioned in another post about how much I love running. This time we spend on ourselves is meditative. It gives us a chance to focus all of our attention and energy into one thing. So often in motherhood it’s a constant juggling act and multi-tasking becomes exhausting. Exercise can be an escape and a process, a time to get away, pray and re-center.

Our bodies are one small part of being healthy but when we neglect them it impacts everything else! Since I became a mom it’s been harder to make the time and it feels less like a hobby. To keep it from feeling like even more work, I’ve learned how to keep it simple. I have a background in nutrition and worked as a nutrition coach at a gym alongside personal trainers and bodybuilders. Because of this background I’ve had to be careful not to over-emphasize this part of my life. I still give myself the time and self-love to make it part of our lives in a way that works with our routines.

Healthy and energetic

Most of these tips are to feel healthy and energetic. It’s so easy to forget about myself and I find myself falling into the trap of having a cup of coffee and a granola bar and find that it’s 2 PM and I’m starving for some Cheez-its! Most of all we just have to give ourselves the permission to take care of ourselves without guilt. It is not wrong to want to spend some time doing something other than taking care of our children.

I really keep an eye on my energy levels and make sure I’m not eating too much sugar or caffeine. Stimulants like these stress your adrenal system. All of it is connected. So since I’ve spent so much time researching how certain things impact my energy and health: Here are my top five tips!

1. Take care of your spirit first

I struggled off and on with disordered eating for years. As I’ve been working through past pain and trauma, this part has improved dramatically. It’s so important for us to take care of our spirits and our souls because it connects to our bodies. Overcoming rejection and control and understanding our worth helps us to be more balanced when it comes to eating and exercising. It’s easy to use food as a pain reliever instead of dealing with the pain.

Personally, I have the tendency to go too far in one direction or the other. I’m the type of person who will eat only carrots and work out for two hours or eat pizza and ice cream with no exercise. Both of these are unhealthy and harmful. This has improved so much since I’ve worked on my spirit and as I continue to do so. I have other posts about spirituality if you are interested in this topic!

don't drink your calories
Water, yum yum

2. Don’t drink your calories

Like a doctor once told me: Eat those things! Juice, soda, and coffee drinks have a ton of empty calories with no nutrition. I listed this one first as a nutrition guideline because it’s pretty easy to maintain. My go-to drinks are plain old water with ice, La Croix, True Lemon, tea, and coffee. I do use some creamer in my coffee sometimes but like to stick with whole milk and stevia as a sweetner most of the time. Stay away from all artifical sweetners except stevia. Studies have shown that Splenda and Aspartame spike insulin levels and cause cravings for sweets which cancels out any calorie saving effects. Cutting out the sugar and artificial sugars makes a tremendous difference!

3. Limit carbs in the evenings

Use whole wheat bread, pasta, and pitas when you eat carbohydrates. I do limit my carbohydrates some, especially in the evenings because it gives my body time to work off the glucose. Carbs include sugar so watch your sugar but you don’t have to completely cut it out unless you are trying to lose weight. I usually try to eat any carbs for breakfast and lunch which also helps me have the energy for a strong workout.

It helps to notice how you feel after you’ve eaten sugar or carbohydrates and remember that feeling. More than anything else, what keeps me from overeating sugar is knowing how tired it makes me feel afterwards. Ask yourself if it’s worth the crash.

4. Exercise

This is my personal favorite because a good workout can change my mood, my energy, and my focus for the entire day! In an ideal world I would do 30 minutes of resistance training and 30 minutes of cardio 5-6 days a week. Realistically, I do resistance training 3-4 times a week right now and fit in cardio however I can.

I love my cardio and the buzz it gives me and my favorite is still running. If I only get to choose one 30 minute workout per day, I make it a resistance workout because it has longer lasting benefits. Cardio only burns calories for that day. Resistance training builds muscle and transforms your body into a fat burning machine. I used to work at a gym and was encouraged to perform high weight, low rep training. This is great if you’re trying to build muscle but it made me bulk up. I’m not a tall person and I’m naturally hour-glass shaped so this wasn’t my goal.

Tracy Anderson

There are so many articles that say that women don’t have enough muscle to really bulk up, but I did! Now, even though it’s contrary to popular opinion, I do low weight, high rep resistance training. A lot of people have asked me what kind of workouts I’m doing now. My favorite videos are Tracy Anderson. I discovered her after I had the baby and I did her postpartum video first. She focuses on the abdonminals because they’ve been stretched out during pregancy. It was killer but it got my tummy back down to where it was before. I’m actually in the same jeans and running tights now than I was before the baby.

This link is the workout program I’m doing currently. It’s her Metamorphasis program. There is a new routine every ten days which keeps your body from getting used to the same work out. I’m doing her Hipcentric because I’m nursing an old hip injury from running. She also has Omnicentric and Abcentric depending on which areas of your body need the most emphasis. This video has transformed my body quickly although I will admit they are difficult workouts. Her workouts tone my body and make my problem areas smaller. Just since December I’ve lost one inch in my waist, hips, and chest doing this video a few times a week.

rest and de-stress
Take a nap, you deserve it!

5. Rest and de-stress

Get lots of sleep and keep stress levels as low as humanly possible. Believe me, I know this sounds impossible! Stress and the hormone cortisol cause us to gain weight and slow down our metabolism. If you have the choice between a nap and a workout and you’re tired and stressed out always take the nap! As new moms we can push ourselves too far. I can’t tell you how many times a mom friend has told me she’s tired and then goes and works out. I find myself doing it too.

Take a nap and chill. Then when you’re caught up on sleep the workout will have the added benefit of not producing more cortisol in your body! My favorite supplement right now is Ashwagandha because it lowers cortisol and supports my thyroid and adrenal glands. It has the added benefit of helping me relax in the evenings and overall, sleep better.

We are allowed to be human

Allow yourself to be human. When in doubt, love yourself! Some days that means a workout and some days that means a nap. It’s okay to miss a workout or even a week of workouts then get started again. It’s important to keep a tight hold of our dreams and the commitments we’ve made to ourselves. However, right now with a small child is the time for a little more grace and forgiveness. I remind myself that it usually only takes one workout to get myself back on track because I remember how good I feel afterwards and want to eat healthy and not lose out on the benefits from the workout. I do keep tabs on my weight but do not to freak out if it fluculates a few pounds.

My body has a set point and I basically maintain my weight and work to keep my body toned and fit. As much as I’d love to lose a few pounds and get back to where I was when I was a nutrition coach I know that now isn’t the time for that. Once the baby is in school, I can devote more time to myself. Right now is all about survival and that’s what these tips are about. I don’t cut out food groups or do trendy diets because they never work for me! It makes it impossible to cook for my husband and the baby that way too.

Moderation is key and is something I learned about from my husband who has no nutrition background but naturally keeps the amount he eats in moderation. No one can balance everything perfectly but hopefully these tips can give you a jump start on maintaining a healhty lifestyle during the busy baby years!

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