Natural energy! No sleep required.

“Get a good nights sleep”. It’s on every health tip list. But what about when you can’t get a good nights sleep? Like when you have a new baby and you’re lucky to get 3 hours in a row!

As a sleep-deprived new mum, I turned to caffeine and sugar to keep me going through the long, sleepless nights. As I got more and more exhausted, I ate more and more sugar. Finally, I decided to kick the sugar habit and focus on whole food, plant based eating. 

It sucked at first. I missed my sugar crutch. But after a couple weeks I’d get these bursts of joyful energy. And then one morning I woke up and felt happy and full of life. I looked at my Fitbit app wondering if maybe I had dreamt that I was up half the night with a teething 4 month old. Nope. The sleep tracker confirmed the mere 4 hours of sleep I received. But I woke up feeling so good? Maybe it was just a phase? But the next day I woke up ready for the day again and the day after that. Suddenly my days were filled with much more energy and my mood was greatly improved! 

Don’t get me wrong I’m still a Wellingtonian. We love our coffee. I dutifully walk down to the shops for my morning soy flat white each day. But pre-coffee I used to be a grouchy, nonsensical mess and now I’m a happy, normal person! 

I definitely attribute this newfound energy to my whole food, plant based diet. I just wish I had been eating this way all along! 

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Lose weight breastfeeding? Yeah right!

If you’re a new mum you’ve probably met at least one skinny woman who has claimed to have lost all their pregnancy weight by breastfeeding. Truth is, most of those women were probably pretty healthy before they had their babies. They claim to eat anything they wanted while breastfeeding, but what they wanted was an extra piece of chocolate not the whole damn slab! 

But breastfeeding burns calories, you say! Yep, that’s what I told myself while shovelling pizza and sweets into my mouth. I’d have to be breastfeeding all the babies in Wellington to burn that many calories! Looking back, I realise that I used having a newborn as an excuse to binge eat. I was stressed, sleep-deprived, and giving myself a free pass to indulge my bad habits (food addicts can always find an excuse to eat, eh?). So I ended up coming out of that 3 month fever dream of new motherhood being just as heavy as the day I gave birth! Man, seeing that number on the scale was a real shitty feeling.

So if you’ve got a problem with food, don’t make the same mistakes as me and delude yourself into thinking breastfeeding will solve all your problems. Instead, find quick, healthy snacks you can eat with one hand (dried fruits, raw bars, etc.). Encourage your family or friends to bring you good meals instead of takeaways and baked goods. Find healthy ways to cope with stress even if it’s as simple as taking 3 deep breaths (sometimes that’s all you’ll have time for). And don’t listen to your skinny mum friends who say they can eat anything they want while breastfeeding! 

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5 ways to create accountability for your health goals

Some people need external accountability to keep them on track. I am definitely one of those people. Maybe it’s the mum in me, but I always seem to show up for others but rarely for myself. My health is the first thing to go out the window when juggling with the priorities of parenting. So here are some ways I’ve created accountability for my health goals:

  1. Share health goals with the people you trust. It can be embarrassing to admit that you’re overweight even when the physical evidence is right there for everyone to see. I found it difficult to even talk to my physically fit husband about my health goals. But if I wanted to change the way my family eats, he needed to be a part of the conversation. How is he supposed to know not to order pizza if I don’t talk to him?! Having the support of others is a huge help for keeping yourself on track. 
  2. Schedule activities. It is easier to stay committed to a scheduled activity than a serendipitous one. It’s hard to find time for fitness with a baby, so I’ve signed up for a “mums n bubs” yoga class and I schedule buggy walks with friends. When you have a four-month-old you’ll always have a good excuse not to do something, so that pre-commitment is key. 
  3. Fitness trackers. When you can’t get to classes or out with friends, fitness trackers can encourage you to stay active. I recently got a Fitbit and I love it! I get competitive comparing my weekly steps with friends (to the point where I’m marching in place while I brush my teeth just to beat my husband). Here are my steps from the other day (I think all parents can relate to the lack of sleep!)
  4. Keep a food diary. Logging your food for the day gives you a chance to reflect on your food choices and find areas for improvement. When you’re rushed off your feet it’s easy to not think about the calories in that muffin you’re eating. Looking back on my day I can see the pitfalls where I need to make some healthier substitutes. The easiest way to do that is to keep all the “bad foods” out of the house. 
  5. Get Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen app. Knowing the right foods to eat is just as important as knowing the ones to avoid. This simple app helps remind you to get all of the good foods into your daily diet. 

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