Learn To Motivate Yourself & Feel Great
Looking after yourself as a mom can be one of the greatest challenges. You might have the kids, work, general life and home maintenance under control, but sometimes, finding the time for yourself is the one thing you can’t make the time for.
But what if, by putting yourself and your needs to the fore, everything became a little easier? What if, not only did it feel easier, but also enjoyable. What if you felt great and looked great? You’d do whatever it took, wouldn’t you?
It sounds simple, but getting fit and healthy is often one of the greatest challenges for moms. The intent is there, the desire is there, so why do we find it so difficult? According to Sarah Thornton, personal trainer, nutrition enthusiast and mom, the answer lies in the way we view diet and exercise. “
In order to eat well, I try to get my clients to focus on establishing better eating habits for energy and well-being and not just weight management. A healthy diet improves concentration, reduces stress and lifts your mood, leaving you happier, lighter and more productive. Ultimately, this is how most people want to feel to get the most out of their life. Once your diet improves, the weight loss happens naturally,” she says.
For some, these changes will just mean little tweaks; cutting out a bad habit here or there, but for others, it can mean a complete overhaul of their diet and lifestyle, which can be intimidating and off-putting. In order not to overwhelm her clients, Sarah breaks the changes down into three things to focus on each week - which for most people is doable. “I also ask them to tell me when they eat most for comfort and suggest healthier options to eat at that time. For example, most people eat for comfort when they sit down in the evening after a busy day. So, instead of having tea or coffee, I suggest an herbal tea or coffee substitute as you don’t feel the need for sweet things with these healthier drinks. I might suggest two squares of high percentage cocoa chocolate, some oatcakes with honey or chopped fruit if they feel they really need something sweet or a snack.”
So what solid steps can we take to ensure we stay motivated? One of the most important aspects of a lifestyle or diet change is planning, says Sarah, who, as a mom understands firsthand just how challenging finding time can be. “It takes 21 days to change habits - you need to plan for this change so you can give it your best shot.” Dedicating that time to planning can mean the difference between success and failure, so Sarah suggests making a list of the healthy foods you’re going to have for each meal, then to make a shopping list for these meals.
Drinking water is something a lot of us overlook in terms of importance when trying to lose weight or making healthier changes to our diet, but as Sarah points out, water is at the very core of healthy nutrition. “Make a reusable water bottle your best friend and bring it everywhere with you. Aim for a glass of water at each meal, plus 500ml over the morning and 500ml over the afternoon, sipping rather than knocking it back in one go. Water can take the form of still water, sparkling water, water with a squeeze of lemon or lime, herbal teas and coffee substitutes.”
One of the challenges faced by most people wanting to lose a few pounds is a fear of different food types, such as fats or carbs, and the misconception that they have to be avoided at all costs. “Many people think that carbohydrates are evil and that they have to leave them out altogether from all meals. This is neither feasible nor sustainable. A small portion (1/4 of a 9-inch dinner plate) of carbohydrates is important for fuelling our bodies, especially if you like to workout a lot.” Avoiding “faddy diets” at all costs would be Sarah’s advice. While they might work initially, they’re almost impossible, and unhealthy, to maintain on a long-term basis.
So for a successful business woman and mom, what is Sarah’s greatest motivation to exercise, eat well, and ensure she’s in top shape? “To feel great from the inside out! I want to have as much energy as possible so I can get the most out of my day and give as much as I can to my family, friends, and business. There are a lot of things that we can’t control in life, but what we put into our bodies is something that we can definitely control. Our bodies are finely tuned machines that need to be given the best source of fuel possible, so we need to respect them - they do a lot for us!
Sarah’s top tips for feeling (and looking) great:
- Keep up your exercise during this busy season; something is better than nothing. Build your social engagements around your exercise.
- Do a good strength session before you go out to your party. If you have a sleeveless top focus on arms, shoulders and back exercises. If you are wearing a skirt, focus on legs. You will look toned and your skin will look fresh and glowing.
- Don’t go crazy when eating out. Because we eat out so often now, it can no longer be viewed as a treat. So we need to take control of the menu! For example, ask for extra vegetables or salad instead of chips or crisps if they are served with your sandwich. Avoid going for the set meal option, as it forces us to eat more than we need. If you need to follow a set menu, remember you don’t actually have to have all the courses. Most restaurants are happy to make the changes.
- Drink lots of water to flush the excesses from your system and to prevent you feeling sluggish.
- Eat and live well in between your social engagements. Don’t let one or two nights dictate how you will eat for that week. Plan your healthy meals as much as you are planning your social get-togethers!