Right. First things first. Before you read this, this is a guide for mums/women/people who are feeling they want to get their minds and bodies back. Into some sort of shape. Especially us mums, who completely forget to look after ourselves after we’ve brought small, demanding people into the world. If, like I was three months ago, you’re still eating two egg McMuffins a week and are bloody happy then carry on. You may of course still read this and pick up some helpful tips but I do not want ANYONE to read this and feel guilty. Or think they should be doing ANY of this. NO GUILT. And if you have a young baby under the age of two, DO NOT EVEN THINK ABOUT TRYING TO GIVE UP CAKE OR RUNNING A MARATHON. Looking after babies IS a marathon. Got it? OK then, read on…
- A ‘fit’ mind and body does NOT mean being thin and always being happy. When I was 25 and I used to eat two Ryvita with marmite for lunch, my only motivation was being thin. When things went wrong in my life, I didn’t cope well because I believed life was about being happy ALL of the time. Now? I want my body to be strong. Through exercise. I want my mind to be strong, come what may. Through CBT techniques I’ve learned. And I want my mind and body to be in sync because I’m always going to be susceptible to depression and anxiety. I don’t need to be a martyr, do I? I’m a mum. I’m me. I’m allowed to look after myself too. We all are.
- Take up yoga. I mean it. It’s blooming amazing. I had no patience for it pre-kids. It was too slow and I didn’t want to fanny about sticking my leg in the air. But post-kids it has transformed my life. It’s allowed me to switch off and realise that my mind and body are actually part of the same thing. Because it’s really hard to think about what day your middle child is settling into school and whether you’ve turned the iron off (even though you don’t iron) when you’re trying to breathe and stop yourself from losing your balance and falling face down on the floor. There are loads of different types so experiment and find the one you like. I started with a relaxing Restorative Yoga class. Get googling now. You’ll think you’ve died and gone to heaven. Oh. And another great reason for taking it up? You get to do stuff like ‘abandon’ your husband and three kids so you can go on yoga weekends and do the downward dog. All in the name of your wellbeing. No one can argue with that, eh?
- Be nice to yourself. Most of us wouldn’t treat another person the way we treat ourselves. Why does everyone else get the best of us? Why do we leave ourselves with ZERO resources? Put yourself first more than once in a while. And don’t feel guilty about doing so.
- Take the pressure off. It’s The Boy with No Name’s 2nd birthday tomorrow. I should be making his cake. Instead, I’m sitting here listening to Spotify and blogging. Because it makes me happy. So I’ll probably end up nipping to ASDA and picking up a ready-made, which I almost NEVER do. Sometimes? Life’s about taking the easy option. (Also? I don’t know how to make a Spiderman cake or any cake that isn’t round.)
- Remove the word SHOULD from your vocabulary. If you’re telling yourself you SHOULD be doing something, then you probably don’t want to do it and are busy doing something you DO want to do. This is why I’ve never ironed, I no longer seem to hoover and my house is disappearing under a continually erupting volcano of dust and crap. ‘But just look how happy I am!’ (Hahaha.)
- Ditch the crap. I love cake. I love Egg Mcmuffins. I love crap. But after seven years of abusing my body with them, it’s had enough. I’m never going to deprive myself completely but I’m going to eat crap for 20% of the time rather than 95%. We live in a real ‘treat’ culture. But why does something that makes me feel a bit sluggish afterwards constitute a treat? These days I’m seeing a treat as full fat greek yoghurt with berries. Or a trip to Whistles. Sssshhhhhh.
- Eat full fat. A friend recently came to my house and said it was like some sort of anti Fat Camp. But the low fat stuff is full of, erm, crap and nasty additives. Full fat everything is much better for you because it’s in its most natural state. It also tastes way better so you need less of it.
- Buy some nice exercise gear. So you feel good in what you’re wearing when you’re exercising. It doesn’t have to be posh, like Sweaty Betty. I indulged my animal print fetish and bought a pair of black and white leopard print leggings from M&S. In other news, WHEN is my animal print fetish going to pass?
- Mix it up. I’m not talking about your G&T here. I’m talking about keeping your body interested in exercise. Doing the same exercise ALL the time is boring. And you get less results. Keep your mind and muscles on their toes and change what you do. Aim for 2-3 sessions a week and try different weekly combos of running, swimming, yoga and an exercise class. Exercise classes are great because you have someone else motivating you. Insanity Live is, erm, insane but it’s only 45 minutes and I feel like I’ve run a marathon after. Without losing my toenails.
- GET SOME SLEEP. I’ve put this one in capitals because getting decent sleep, even when we get the opportunity, is the thing lots of us are dreadful at. My kids mostly sleep through the night now and yet there I am at midnight fannying around, not sticking my leg in the air and doing God knows what (mainly making the most of not having small people around). Then I wake up tired. Get up late. And generally make everything harder than it needs to be. GO TO BED EARLIER. And if you need a reason why, here it is. The hours between 10.00 PM and 2.00 AM are when our bodies renew and repair cells. We need this to keep healthy, prevent disease and age well. Since I found this out (2 days ago haha) I’ve been in bed at 9.30 PM. Let’s see how long that lasts.
- Revisit a hobby you used to love. I read a whole book on my yoga weekend. Why? Because there was no wi-fi, limited mobile reception, no TV and, OH YES, I wanted to! I used to devour books when I was younger and have no idea why I stopped. I do have the time. I just waste it on Facebook.
- Take time out. No one’s going to hand this to you on a plate. You’ve got to ask for it. Then take it. Don’t wait for it to just happen. Or feel guilty for needing it. Schedule it in. Leave your child in the capable hands of someone else. And do something that makes YOU happy. You’re showing your child that it’s important to value yourself. That YOU are a person too. And that’s a great lesson in self-esteem.
- Spend time with people who inspire/support you. This one is key. Why would you spend time with negative people who bring you down? So what if you’ve been friends for 20 years. That’s called a habit. And some habits are bad. Take a look at your friendships and relationships. Call time on any that don’t make you happy. Because your time is precious. Your mind is precious. And you want to hang out with people that, after you’ve left them, leave you feeling warm, fuzzy and like you can do anything you put your mind to.
- Believe in yourself. Because if you don’t, no one else will either. And aren’t you pretty amazing?