I want to share with you some of the things I have been learning and uncovering about myself and what I think so many other mums struggle with too.
Many of the people I see in my clinic are mums with concerns about their child's health. I spend a lot of time going through their symptoms and health history, working to get to the underlying cause of the problem and determining where to start.
By the time I see these mums, they have usually tried a range of different things that haven't worked or are just not cutting it and they are usually prepared to bend over backwards to make their child well.
As a nutritionist, I have a focus on food as medicine and this usually means that I'm going to ask you to make some changes to the foods you are feeding your kids.
What I find often is that as mum's we will do almost anything for our kids.
- We will go without things to afford different supplements or different foods if they need them.
- We will get up early or stay up late and make their food so they don’t miss out on something yummy in their lunch box.
- We will go gluten & dairy free with so they don’t feel like they’re on their own.
But do we do this for ourselves?
I see a lot of mums with their own health problems. Stressed out, not sleeping well, eating the crusts of their kids sourdough toast bread and a cold cup of tea for breakfast.
As mums, and women generally, we often neglect our own health and our own needs ahead of those of our family.
This is where I want to talk about mindset.
Now, I’m not a fan of that word - mind set. To me it’s a very masculine kind of word “set your mind to something and get it done.”
But again as women, as mothers, we know there are countless interruptions when trying to get things done. We know there are always things that come up (with kids, partners, the dog…) that are urgent and need to get done before you can make your own lunch, go for a walk or spend time meditating.
And we are also “conditioned” not to put ourselves first. It’s seen as selfish, as indulgent or even lazy.
Now, I know we have all heard the lessons about self care. I just did a podcast with Lisa Corduff on self-care for busy mums. And we all know it’s important and our health is important.
So why isn't it easy to stick with?
Think about this…. We are where our attention is.
Is your attention on you? Is it on your health? And if it IS on you, is it positive or negative? Are you thinking, I need to lose weight, I’m so fat and ugly, I can never stick to any kind of plan.
If these are your thoughts, then you will continue to treat yourself in the same way. You will do what you've always done and you won't stick to a plan, you won't look after yourself and you won't get the results you want.
These are the stories we tell ourselves
These thoughts or stories are with us because of the way we have learned to see ourselves. It could be based on watching our own mothers or being teased as a child.
We form our identity and who we are by the age of 7. In those formative years, we develop who we are based on what we see, what we experience and what we are told. These stories become part of our beliefs and we carry these throughout our lives and continue to tell ourselves and live out our lives with these beliefs.
For me, it was watching my mum go on countless diets and always struggle with her weight. She would hide herself way and work really hard in the background, but tried not to be seen. This may not have been what she was thinking at the time, but it was how I saw her.
So I repeated her story. I would hide myself away and eat, then diet then feel bad so I’d eat more. I never stuck to a diet or an exercise routine. I told myself “I am just not the kind of person to do that."
So if you have always told yourself that you are lazy, or you can’t lose weight, or you can’t afford to eat better quality food…. then that will become your story. And remember, our children are also forming their own identities and their own stories, so they are watching you.
How can you change your story?
Well, for me, it took looking at why I have these beliefs in the first place. Going back through my life and really looking at situations that arose or challenges I faced and how I was taught to deal with them.
I spent a lot of time thinking about whether or not these beliefs and stories are helpful to me now or not. And it not, it's time to let go of them and rewrite my own, new stories, ones that serve me well today.
We all have the ability within us to change the things we don't like about ourselves. We can all change is we want to.
So rather than continuing to tell yourself "I am just not supposed to be X weight", or "I am just not the kind of person to workout regularly", if you actually want to be that person, then re-write your story and be her!
I know change isn't easy
Nothing worth it ever is. It takes a certain level of commitment and sometimes it's hard to look at why we are the way we are. But the first step in all of this, is the commitment to loving and looking after yourself. Putting yourself first sometimes, making small changes in the way you go about your life each and every day that work for you.
Need a little help?
We all need a little help sometimes, so I have put together an ebook just for you. Self-care for Busy Mums is for all the mums I know are running flat out to look after their family as best they can. This is especially for those of you who think you don't have the time or resources to take regular yoga classes, meditate or to simply have a shower uninterrupted.
To download your Self-care for Busy Mums ebook, click on the button below.
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