Wednesday, 7 November 2018

My Five Point Plan To Become A Yummy Mummy


Motherhood is all kinds of wonderful.

For someone who never went gooey over nappy adverts and wasn't sure if they were cut out to be somebody's mum, the wild joy my two little humans give me has been the best kind of surprise.

But as much as I'm enjoying being a mama, there is a hidden side to it that no one talks about. And that's the identity crisis that often seems to go hand in hand with pregnancy and birth.

Your world changes overnight. Your priorities are different. Your heart is forever changed. You don't look like you anymore. And that can leave you wondering who you really are now.

Your being and your body has become all about keeping this little human you made safe. You put so much into loving and sustaining your baby, putting your own needs firmly to one side.

Little wonder that you can catch yourself looking in the mirror wondering who that tired, scruffy person looking back is.



How we look is such an important part of how we feel about ourselves and how we interact with the world.

It can feel downright trivial - sinful even - to care about these things in the face of a little something like…oh...CREATING HUMAN Life. But it's absolutely not.

For a long time after having my son Theo I struggled with this. I felt bad for being uncomfortable with my changed body after all it had done. I felt guilty for caring about how I looked when my priority was my baby's wellbeing.

It took me a long time to work those feelings out and to realise that wanting your own identity and caring about your appearance doesn't make you a bad mother. It doesn't mean that you love those babies any less. Your own self-worth doesn't diminish others.

It's all about being comfortable and confident. And if for some people, that means being able to take pride in their appearance again -whatever that means for them - then hey, that's okay. You have to go with what makes you feel good.

Because guess what? Feeling confident is a life skill that you are going to need to teach your kids. And the best way to teach them is by being confident yourself.

That's why I've devised a little plan to get back to a version of myself I'm okay with. To have a body and an appearance that feels like myself again.

And here's how I'm planning to do it, and how you can do it too...



1. Nourish Your Body

Tiredness is the worst diet aid in the world. When you are consistently sleep deprived, it is incredibly hard to make good choices about food.

Your body craves sugar, caffeine and starchy carbs for a quick energy hit. And all the foods you can grab in five minutes and eat one handed while feeding the baby are bad for you.

Healthy choices are hard. They mean choosing an apple when all you really want is chocolate. They mean somehow finding time to prepare a chicken and quinoa dish when you only have time to grab a slice of toast. Not to mention the fact that nearly every baby group going revolves around cake.

It's very easy to fall into unhealthy choices by default.

On top of that, I bought into the myth (and unfortunately, that's exactly what it was for me) that breastfeeding meant the weight would just melt away effortlessly. But that didn't happen.

Instead, it gave me a huge appetite that I satisfied with all the wrong things. Add into that worries about dieting affecting your milk supply, and I felt trapped in a cycle of bad choices and bad food.

But now that things have settled down with my baby and we're in a bit more of a routine, I want to make better choices - ones that will support my body and my health, and by default, my daughter.

Drink two glasses of water before every meal

Most of us are dehydrated, and this can cause overeating as we confuse thirst for hunger. A simple rule to help this is to drink two glasses of water before every meal. This keeps your H20 levels topped up and fills your stomach, making you less likely to overeat.

Follow a healthy and quick ‘set menu' during the day

Having too much choice can be a bad thing. You don't have the time or the brain capacity for a million choices as a new mother. It's a good idea to have a small handful of choices that become your go-to dishes during the day. So I've chosen two or three options for breakfast, lunch and snacks which are quick to prep and good for me:

Breakfast
Quinoa protein porridge or Greek yoghurt with banana or scrambled eggs with avocado
Lunch
Grilled chicken with edamame beans or quinoa with mixed vegetables or scrambled eggs with avocado
Snacks
Apple with nut butter or Ryvita with cottage cheese or carrots with homemade hummus or a Nakd fruit and nut bar or a lean protein shake

It's a bit repetitive but I'm okay with that- I like all these things and they are quick to grab on the go and will stop me making bad choices.


Create a lean evening meal

So, there's a plan for day, but things can tend to fall apart in the evenings. There's a family meal to prepare that needs to cater for other people as well.

For me, my husband likes carbs because he's a runner and I have a fussy toddler to please. I don't have the time or energy to make separate meals for everyone. The way to get around this is to make the same meals for everyone, but swap in a few subs on your own plate.

This means making a curry or a chilli with regular rice, but having cauliflower rice yourself or serving them mashed potato but subbing quinoa or kale for you.

If it's something you can't sub, like a lasagne, then serve yourself a smaller piece and an extra helping of vegetables to fill up on. Frozen vegetable medley is a lifesaver as you can just cook a portion up quickly with minimal effort and no prep.

Make sure you get your vitamins

It's a good idea to add in a few supplements to make sure your body is getting what it needs. What you take should be tailored to your own needs, but I choose:


  • Water soluble Vitamin C
  • Multivitamin (I'm using Swiss) 
  • Omega 3 capsules
  • Iron and b vitamin supplement (I'm currently anaemic, so I'm taking Feroglobin to sort this out and help with my energy levels) 
  • Powdered supergreens (I'm using Xenca Five A Day Plus just to make sure I'm getting the right nutrients) 


The Vit C gives me a natural energy boost in the morning and strengthens my immune system against all the germs my toddler brings home from nursery. A quality multivitamin is a must and Omega 3 supports brain function and heart health with essential fats.


2. Develop a capsule wardrobe 

As you get older, so you learn what suits you and begin to refine your style into a few key pieces. I know I tend to repurchase the same few things all the time. That has made me extremely interested in the idea of developing a capsule wardrobe.

Of just going for what suits me rather than endless variety and being more considered with what I choose to buy and wear. Having a uniform streamlines my choices, meaning less wasted time in the mornings and less wasted money on items that don't flatter or get worn. It makes sense on so many levels.

I am a bit of a shopping addict so I'm expecting a struggle, but I'm hoping it will make me value what I do buy more.


Buy less but better quality

Fast fashion has us all seduced into thinking we need new stuff constantly, but if you look at the percentage of what you actually wear out of your overflowing wardrobe, it's likely to be very small!

I want to learn to be more strategic and and stop wasting money on things I don't really love in favour of the more grown up idea of a signature style.

Shelving lots of badly made choices for a uniform of quality pieces that look great all the time and are a pleasure to wear. I've spent my whole life being a shopping addict and old habits die hard, but there are so many reasons this makes sense to do.

Try the ‘hanger hack’

This is a really interesting and simple idea to identify what you actually wear - turn all your hangers so they are facing the wrong way. Each time you wear and wash something and put it back, turn the hanger the right way again. After a few weeks it's going to be pretty obvious what you're actually wearing! After a few months, anything you haven't worn should be donated.

Learn to shelve impulse buys

How often have you gone for the latest trend, only to find that it doesn't suit you at all? Or purchased a ‘must have’ sales bargain that doesn't quite fit and never gets worn? Impulse buys are the enemy of style and the enemy of your wallet.

Clothes should be carefully considered and replaced rationally. I'm going to try and give them up by only buying items if they are missing from my capsule wardrobe.

3. Learn to do your own beauty treatments

Something mums definitely have in short supply is time for themselves. Even the most high maintenance of us beauty-wise quickly finds that you only get ten minutes or under on a good day to get your makeup on and that salon visits are impossible with a baby and a toddler in tow.

So do you just resign yourself to years of the dreaded frump? Well, I've taught myself to do a couple of treatments I used to head to the salon for at home!

Eyelash extensions - I feel so much more confident and ‘done' with extra flutter power, so I've learnt how to do extensions at home. This also saves time in the morning as I get ready much quicker and don't have to bother with mascara.

Gel pedicure - I was paying for regular gel pedicures, but I bought a UV lamp and some gel polish and now save time and money doing it myself. I can squeeze it in when I manage to grab 15 minutes rather than trying  to work around an appointment time.

Take time for a weekly bath and pamper - Time to yourself is very hard to come by with small children, but every Sunday night when the toddler is asleep, my husband will take the baby so I can get a bubble bath. I like to light some candles (gives a spa vibe plus hides the piles of plastic bath toys!) and I'll read a chapter of my book or listen to some music or a podcast. I use the time to squeeze in some pampering - a face mask, a deep conditioner on my hair and maybe pop in some teeth whitening strips as well. I may only have half an hour, but I make it count and come out feeling like a new woman!



4. Make Time To Exercise 

As a teenager, no one could possibly have called me sporty, and the day is still how I think of myself now. And yet, actually, I've been going to the gym most of my adult life.

It's only in the last five years that I've really learned to love it, and that is because I stopped focusing on what exercise was doing for my weight, and started paying attention to how good it was for my mental state and how much of an energy boost it gave me.

Then everything just sort of clicked. I realised that I was saying that I was too tired to exercise but actually, when I'd done it, I had so much more energy and mental clarity. Now I recognise it as my source of energy, rather than add a drain on it.

I try to do something most days and this is my current routine:

Morning bodyweight exercises +plank challenge
Lunchtime brisk walk
Evening HIIT session or Pilates on YouTube OR 2.5k run on the way to pick up my son from nursery

I've also found a couple of bring your baby spin and body conditioning classes, so I'm aiming to do one or two of those per week. It's about finding stuff that is achievable because it fits into my life - so, baby friendly classes, home workouts or running or power walking somewhere I would have to go anyway. I'm also planning to sign up for a race event to give my running a focus.



5. Up Your Water Intake 

Breastfeeding makes me majorly dehydrated, so the final point of my plan is simply to make sure that I'm drinking enough water - both to help my skin and to stop me over eating. I bought a beautiful Swell 500ml metal water bottle and I'm assuming to fill it for times during the day.

So, that's my little plan to get back to my best. What did you do post-baby to get back on track? Share your best tips with me.


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