Regardless of whether you’re a first-time or repeat mom, you’re here because you want to start on the journey to improving your health.
Are you pushed for time, struggling with sleep or experiencing postnatal physical issues?
These are common scenarios that can seem like a barrier for women who are unsure how to start with health change.
Regardless of your story, there are three principles I use to help you move in the right direction.
- Get some perspective...
Look at health as a series of incremental changes from zero to 100. Take confidence in knowing you are not at zero and knowing even a 1% change is beneficial for you and your little ones.
- Start somewhere...
Returning to activity post pregnancy can feel a little bit like returning from injury. Step one? Participation. Forget where you were, start at the beginning and get involved.
- Make it a habit...
Create a ‘call to action’ or ‘cue’ for your new healthy habits—such as meeting up with friends three times a week for a walk. Matching talk and action will increase the chances of a habit sticking.
Find Your Balance
The greatest change I’ve seen in moms is when they have been able to apply these principles of health change across four areas: See them like four legs of a chair—the most balance comes when all legs are grounded.
A seminal 20-year study by two professors, known as the Framingham Heart Study, found health and happiness were contagious among people living in a community.
Those who lived next door to a healthy person were healthier themselves; a correlation that worked up to two houses away.
Question who you spend your time with: Which new moms can add to your life? Who are the ones that can support your health goals? Spend more time with them.
You may have been super active pre-pregnancy and the thought of starting back can be daunting*, but if you like walking, dancing, yoga, sex or football—keep on playing.
To quote George Bernard Shaw, “You don’t stop playing because you grow old, you grow old because you stop playing.”
If you have not been active before, start experimenting: Take a dance class, go for a walk; find your fun. *(see principal #2: Start somewhere)
Eating well will give you the energy to cope with the diaper changes, midnight feeds and cuddles.
By giving yourself time to shop, prepare meals in advance, and slow down to eat, you will develop a healthy relationship with food.
Don’t be too harsh on yourself on the bad days and don’t be too righteous on the good days—simply plan to have more good than bad.
Michael Pollan, author of An Eater’s Manual, recommends consuming real food, not too much—and mostly plants.
Eating this way ensures you pick up a wealth of nutrients through colorful fruit and veg, helping with all the changes going on your body.
Young children who displayed patience while waiting for candy went on to achieve higher exam results and life success, psychologists at New York’s Columbia University found.
The life lesson? Be patient. Life is unpredictable: we can be riding on a wave of joy only to be quickly crippled under the weight of life, work, motherhood and relationships.
Learn to understand what we can control and let go of what we cannot. Everything takes time and those who are willing to focus will get the best results.
Take comfort in knowing there is no one best way of improving your health but through enacting some key principles—of perspective, starting somewhere and creating habits—you are well on your way to becoming healthier.
Chris Garvey is founder of Habitual, a lifestyle Kickstarter company specialising in health change. Habitual helps people consistently feel better, move better and eat better through Food, Fun, Friends and Focus coaching.