Are you a High-Octane Mom? 7 Secrets to Tone it Down and Honor Yourself on Mother’s Day

With Mother’s Day coming up on May 10th, I have been thinking a lot lately on motherhood and just what makes each one of us a good mother. In our day and age, there is no right formula. Some mothers stay at home, some mothers work full-time while others work part-time. What we all share in common, though, is a deep love for our children and our families. And, most of us, unfortunately, also share the “I’ve got to do it all perfectly and please everybody” syndrome!

As a diet and lifestyle coach who helps mothers feed themselves and their children better both physically and spiritually, what I tell my clients most is to SLOW DOWN. Stop the craziness of running on a hamster wheel and going and going and going and just cherish this precious moment of motherhood. Make family time meaningful and be present for your children as well as your husband. By doing this, you will be present for your own life.

Celebrate this Mother’s Day differently by not just escaping and having a little “me” time or measuring your day on whether you got breakfast in bed or a beautiful bouquet of flowers, but by truly taking the moment of this symbolic day to make some commitments to yourself and your family. If you are happy, well-rested and feel good about yourself and your body, you will be able to serve those around you.

So, how do we SLOW DOWN and go “low-octane?”

Number 1: Reduce or eliminate sugar in your diet.
Sugar affects our energy levels, waistlines and quality of life. The first thing that I always suggest to strung-out moms who come to me seeking diet advice is to get in control of their sugar intake. So many of us rely on sugar to boost our moods and keep us going through the day and we do not even realize it. It may make us feel good in the short term, but in the end we all are left feeling like we are on an emotional roller coaster where we feel good one minute and want Prozac the next!

If you wake up feeling tired instead of feeling rested and refreshed, feel low energy and drag through your day and rely on carbs or a Starbucks run in the afternoon to keep you going, don’t make time for exercise because you don’t have enough energy, have problems sleeping and rely on medication to get to sleep or have intense cravings for bread, pasta or sugar then you may have a dependency on sugar.

The problem with sugar is that it is a highly-addictive substance. Eating even a small amount of it creates a desire for more, and quitting results in withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, mood swings, cravings and fatigue (just like caffeine or a drug.)

The average American consumes over 20 teaspoons of sugar on a daily basis, which adds up to 142 pounds of sugar per year. This sugar intake, by the way, adds upwards of 500 calories per day to our diets. Definitely not good for our waistlines!

Additionally, when we eat sugar, our body processes and then releases blood sugars into our blood giving us that “high” and our pancreas will release excess levels of insulin to counterbalance the onslaught of sugars, which results in fat storage and weight gain. Storing fat requires more insulin production and any excess calories are then turned into fat. The same high levels of insulin that causes you to store fat will also block the release of any stored body fat for energy so it is nearly impossible to lose weight!

Most importantly, when we consume sugar to “keep going,” we end up doing more than we should and tax our adrenals.

So, cut out all white sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, fructose, sucrose and any other sugar out of your diet and chose natural, low-glycemic choices such as agave nectar, raw honey, and maple syrup in small doses and to the natural herb stevia. Doing this in the short-term may be painful but in the long-term your moods will even out and you will look and feel great!

Number 2: Reduce or eliminate caffeine consumption.
Coffee is America’s most popular beverage. Drinking moderate amounts of coffee has the ability to increase our energy, enhance our mood and sense of well-being, improve our memory and ability to perform complex tasks, and maximize our physical performance.

“So, what is so wrong with coffee?,” you might ask. On the downside, coffee has been linked to sleep problems, headaches, digestive problems, ulcers, dehydration, the interference of iron and calcium absorption, fatigue, anxiety, mood swings and depression. The biggest problem I see, however, is that drinking coffee raises our stress hormone levels and, much like sugar, taxes our adrenals by enabling us to do more than we naturally should.

When we begin using coffee as a crutch to either wake ourselves up and get going and literally bite our children’s heads off in the morning if we have not had our coffee or if we have to have a latte in the afternoon to get us through an afternoon ballet class with our child, we are addicted to caffeine and need to make some changes. Are we drugging ourselves to enhance our mental performance and increase what we can accomplish during our day? If the answer is “yes”, then your quality of life will be greatly improved if you wean yourself off caffeine.

Number 3: Make sleep and rest a priority.
This is where escaping to get a manicure or pedicure or just curling up and reading a book is important. We have to make sure that we make ourselves a priority and are getting enough sleep and downtime. We are of no use to our family or to ourselves if we are too stressed and feel spread too thin. Sleep is not a luxury so let go of the guilt attached to taking care of yourself. One of the best things you can do for yourself is to make sure that you get adequate amounts of sleep at night and rest during the day.

Losing sleep is linked to weight gain.When we lose sleep, our body loses the ability to regulate insulin and this leads, ultimately, to weight gain. When you run yourself into the ground, your body goes into a “fight or flight” mode and secretes the hormone cortisol, which helps the body convert protein into glucose or sugar. When this glucose is not used, it is turned into fat. So, while you are going a 100 miles an hour trying to go to the gym, take care of your family and perhaps even logging in hours at the office, your cortisol levels are raised making it literally impossible for you to lose weight. While of course it is ok to wake up early before the kids and hubbie and get that workout in, make sure you get in bed at a reasonable time so you can get at least 7 (preferably 8!) hours of sleep per night.

Do you feel hungrier and are tempted to scarf down your son’s French Fries when you are tired? Studies have found that lack of sleep negatively affects levels of the appetite-regulating hormones ghrelin and leptin. Take care of yourself- sleep is not a luxury it is a priority–so make time to rest and take care of yourself and you will feel so much brighter and clear-headed and the pounds will melt away.

In a recent study in the American Journal of Epidemiology, women who slept 7 or more hours a night were less likely to put on weight. Those who slept only 6 hours a night were 12% more likely to gain substantial weight- an average of 33 pounds over the course of 16 years. Women who slept 5 hours had a 32% chance of gaining 30 or more pounds.

Losing sleep is also linked to the inability to regulate blood sugar. In a recent article in the New York Times, a study by Dr. Esra F Tasali of the University of Chicago found that after just three nights of disturbed sleep healthy volunteers had trouble regulating their blood sugar. The volunteers were less sensitive to the insulin the body produces and did not make more insulin to make up for it. The article went on to say that “their bodies behaved as if they were on the express train to diabetes.”

Losing sleep compromises our mental faculties and decision making and literally can make us depressed! When we are sleep deprived, we make bad food (and other!) choices. These bad choice food choices lead to bad moods. And, these bad moods lead to loss of sleep. How many times have you skipped lunch only to feel ravenous and jittery and “out of it.” We cannot live fulfilling, rich lives when we are not able to thoroughly think through the decisions we make.

Number 4: Take time to exercise and make it a priority in your own life!
The best thing that you can do for your children is set a good example. If you make exercise a priority and integrate it in your life, your children will too! Definitely take time to go for a run solo or go to the gym or a yoga class but also set aside time to include the children! On the weekends or after-school, go to the park, scooter or walk to and from school, ride bikes around the park and sign up the children for activities such as gymnastics, karate, ballet, soccer or some other sport. Tell them how proud you are that they are using their bodies and how healthy they look. If my kids ever start moaning about “why do you have to go for a run stay at home with me,” I always have the discussion with them that I am working out because it is good for me and that mommies (or daddies) need to have time for themselves too.

Number 5: Do a special activity with a child.
Isn’t that what being a mother is all about? I always find that it is strange when women do not spend time with their children on Mother’s Day! Certainly take time for yourself to rest, reevaluate your life and just be. But, if we do not connect with our children, aren’t we missing the point about what this day is all about? Take your child to something fun that he or she adores, and I promise you the smile and joy on your child’s face and the feeling of connectedness that you will feel, will make it worth it!

Number 6: Do things that you want to do and that relax and refuel you.
Write in your journal, read a book, take a yoga class or enroll yourself in a class at the museum or something that makes you feel alive. Embrace chances for learning and growing so that you do not feel stagnant as a human being. You are a mother but you are not solely defined by that title!

Number 7: Learn to say “no!”
This may be the most important word you learn how to say! Say “no” to things you do not want to do but feel obligated to do or that drain your energy. Instead spend time with your children, husband, or friends or just spend time by yourself. We do not have to be busy all the time to be productive!

We all take our jobs or committees seriously and chart out how we want things to go in our lives, but motherhood just seems to be what we do. On this Mother’s Day, sit down and evaluate your life, think about what would make you more vital and happy and your life more in balance. Give that gift to yourself and have the happiest Mother’s Day and beyond!

1 Comment

  • gregory
    July 30th, 2014 at 10:12 am

    .

    tnx for info!!…



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