Nurturing You

Self-care to improve self-esteem.

Motherhood, at any time, takes a toll on your body.

With four children of my own, I often find myself speaking to other women about their concerns. They are generally focused on the state of their bellies and bottoms, as well as how tired they feel.

A broken night’s sleep is draining, and as you get older, your energy levels may lower. A woman’s metabolism starts to slow down in her late 30s. Plus, you’re busy looking after everyone in your family — perhaps at the expense of yourself.

The good news is there are many ways to keep our energy and sparkle up — albeit with effort! Find your balance and old sense of self again by understanding the changes that have taken place in your body and mind since entering motherhood. Small steps will eventually change the bigger picture so that you can be happier and healthier.

Exercise, nutrition, and physical well-being are important for you and your family. Involve the children in your goals and activities, and they will learn from your good habits. There is always time to exercise even if it means doubling up. Take the “stroll” out of the stroller and march forth; pick up the wrists and heels to turn a general errand into a walk and raise the pulse. Bend down and collect leftover clothes with an actual squat, use the buttocks to push yourself up. Squat while you clean your teeth, and you will clock as many as 30 squats a day.

Muscles want to be exercised and properly used. They also need hydrating, so drink more water! Our muscles get affected by toxins just like other parts of the body. The more water we drink, the more we can flush the toxins. Of course, it helps to not take in as much toxins in the first place! Less alcohol and less caffeine may sound less fun, but it is far healthier for you to reduce intake of both. A high-quality coffee that has been decaffeinated (it should say on the packet) tastes just as good as a caffeinated coffee.

There are clever ways you can cut down on consumption without activating cravings. A nutritious eating plan and aerobic exercise will aid with toning and weight loss for your physical well-being. To target the belly, keep a positive connection to it, and do specific exercises such as situps and leg lifts (lie flat and slowly raise straight legs). The loose, “empty skin” (folds without fat that you can pinch) may never vanish, but it will reduce as the skin around it tightens up and draws in. By burning fat, you will regain more shape at the waist. Also try twisting exercises such as hula hooping as a fun activity to do with the children.

Women can at times be susceptible to depression, and it is important to keep your brain exercised. Memory games with the children actually help us, too. My youngest son likes the shopping game: “I went to the store and bought an apple; I went to the store and bought an apple and a banana...” Simply go through the alphabet and repeat each item. This can be done with names, countries, etc., and can lighten up a tedious car journey. Crosswords and reading well-written books keep the mind open. I enjoy historical novels; absorb the facts while the fiction weaves a story thread around them to keep the reader hooked.

Don’t stress about forgetting the odd little thing, our responsibilities and priorities totally shifted when we ventured into motherhood. Our brains had to open up a whole new division. Because remembering to feed the kids has come to the forefront, it’s okay to occasionally forget where you put the recipe for pecan pie! It always helps to take a deep breath and go back to where you were when you thought of it last.