6 Tips to Keep From Losing Yourself in Motherhood

Becoming a mom changes you. It shifts your priorities and gives your life new purpose and meaning, but it’s easy to lose sight of the things that were important to you before motherhood in the process. It’s normal for being a mom to define you, but there’s more to you than raising kids. Your dreams from before motherhood are still there, you just need to re-connect with them.

  1. Identify your goals

What are you striving for? Are you simply pursuing your career or continuing education because it’s “the thing to do?” Is your heart really in it? I’m sure there are plenty of moms that are miserable working because they’d rather be home with their kids. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with being a stay at home mom, it’s something I often yearn for. What I mean is that spending time away from your kids doing work you hate is a bad deal. Before you haphazardly agree to take on more responsibility with your limited time, it’s important to sit down and reflect on what you want your life to look like in 5 or 10 years.  For me, connection with others through teaching gets me fired up. Becoming a better educator and communicator are things I’m stoked to invest more time in.

  1. Set aside time for being creative

Identifying your biggest goals might not come to you initially. You might not know anymore what you’re passionate about. At these times, it’s helpful to spend time playing or doing something creative. Scheduling time to paint, write, draw, take photos, dance, or make videos can energize you. I felt so depressed and tired this week. Do you ever feel that way? Like you’re in a fog and just going through the motions? I decided to take a pause to free-write for awhile to get to the bottom of what was bothering me, and it helped me a lot! I’m looking forward to spending more time developing recipes and creating art on a more regular basis.

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  1. Commit to something and finish it

Once you identify your goals, you have to start somewhere. The first piece of creative work you do might not be amazing, but you’ll be excited to have finished it! Good work comes through practice. While I was pregnant, I worked for many hours on countless drafts of a continuing education article for dietitians. I wrote a short course on the role of RD’s in prevention and treatment of obesity in kids. I’m not a strong writer, but I was determined to finish the project. While it’s not a very exciting read, but I’m so proud of myself for finishing it. Even if nobody reads it, I’m glad that I was able to accomplish this thing that I had set out to do.

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Check out the full article here! (pages 53-58)

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  1. Nurture friendships

It’s easy to feel isolated when the only people you spend time with are your kids. First of all, it’s so good for your marriage to schedule date nights (without your kids) to reconnect with your husband. It’s nice to have meaningful conversations like you used to before having children. Similarly, it’s good for your sanity to have other adult friends to connect with. Talking through what you’re concerned about or excited for with other women can be super therapeutic. If you don’t have many mom friends, join a mom’s group to make some! There are plenty of mom MeetUp groups, Facebook groups, and church groups.

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  1. Stay connected spiritually

Trust me- if you feel like you are just drifting or becoming overly self-centered at this stage in life, spending time in the prayer or meditation will re-align your purpose and fire you up for something more. To be honest, Colby and I haven’t been going to church since Everly was born. I miss the richness that participating in fellowship with other Christians brings to my faith, and I know that getting back to it will get me on track with my priorities and the way I want to live my life. The kind of person I want to be, the type of personality I strive to have are manifested through a spiritual life that is well nourished. Not sure where to start? Begin by implementing a gratitude practice. I like to start and end each day praying thanks for the blessings in my life. I’m also really digging this app, Headspace, for guided meditation.

  1. Don’t overlook the power of getting your blood flowing

This may seem trivial, but it’s a simple habit that can make a huge impact in your happiness. Exercise is a free and accessible form of self-care for most moms. If you can do it outside, it’s even better! Getting fresh air and surrounding yourself with nature can make you feel more grounded and refreshed. Awhile ago I figured out that my bad moods are almost always linked to being completely sedentary for more than a day. I know my body craves joyful movement- dancing, cycling, running, swimming… If I go too long without moving my body, I get disproportionately down. I can’t emphasize enough how much better you’ll feel if you get up early, move your body, and then go about your day. It just gets things started on a positive note and will give you an extra bit of energy in a way that sleeping in won’t!

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If you’re a mom, what do you do to keep other aspects of your identity alive? If you aren’t a mom, what habits do you practice to keep sight of your life’s purpose?

 

 

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Stock a Healthy Kitchen

I’ve put together this guide to help you prepare for healthy eating success!

Are you ready to lose some weight and improve your health? The first thing you need to do is go through your kitchen and purge all the unhealthy foods. Give them away or toss ‘em out. This includes things like cakes, cookies, candy, chocolate, crackers, chips, ice cream, sugary cereals, sodas, juices, beer, mac n’ cheese, and other processed foods. You know, the stuff you’re most likely to overeat in a moment of craving, boredom, worry, or exhaustion. Take it from me, if you keep only healthy food in your house, you will eat healthy food at least 70% of the time! There’s research to back me up on that. Furthermore, if you bring snack food into your house, at least 50% of it will be eaten within the first 6 days of bringing it home, even if you bought a Costco-sized package of it. Once you’ve cleared out the junk food, use this guide to re-stock your kitchen with the right foods that will help you improve your body composition and overall health!

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In the Fridge

Skim or 1 percent milk, or fortified soy milk. Almond milk is a good option too, but it’s lower in protein.

Eggs. Whole eggs or liquid egg whites are good option.

Fresh fruit. Keep at least one kind of fruit washed, cut, and stored in a clear plastic container where you can see and grab it easily.

Hummus. Dip veggies in this chickpea spread.

Plain Greek yogurt. Sweeten with fresh or frozen fruit, Stevia, and vanilla extract.

Cottage Cheese. It’s high in protein and tasty with fruit. If you’re not a fan, try it blended in a smoothie for a shake that tastes more like a cheesecake dessert than a post workout recovery drink.

Bagged salad. Look for darker greens like baby spinach or a mix of multicolored lettuces like mesclun or field greens. Bagged spinach is handy for everything- you can easily add a handful to smoothies, ground meat, eggs, etc.

Lunch meats like turkey and lean roast beef. Look for under 4g fat and 400 mg sodium and as few ingredients as possible. Typically the meats that you buy from the deli counter taste waaaay better than the pre-packaged kinds.

Tortillas. Use corn or whole wheat flour tortillas, no larger than 8”. An easy meal is a quesadilla made with low fat cheese, shredded chicken, spinach, and salsa… mmm!

Fresh veggies. Keep veggies front and center in the fridge! Buy your own to wash and chop, or pick up prewashed, precut veggies like broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, snow peas, and celery. Need a tasty veggie dip? Try this: Combine 1 avocado, 1 cup plain greek yogurt, 2 tablespoons ranch seasoning, and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. SO GOOD.

Low-fat cheese. Stock reduced-fat block cheese such as 2 percent milk cheese, reduced-fat string cheese, Laughing Cow minis, Babybel, and part-skim shredded cheese.

Rotisserie Chicken. SO handy! Pair a chicken breast or leg with some veggies and beans or whole grains for a quick and easy meal. Use the leftover bits in salads and toss the bones in the slow cooker with a carrot, stalk of celery, half an onion, and a bay leaf to whip up chicken stock. No part goes to waste!

Cold Brew Coffee. Concentrated coffee is handy as a quick pick-me-up pre-workout or as an easy mix-in for protein shakes.

Butter. Make a healthy spreadable butter by combining equal parts butter and olive oil in the blender.

Sriracha Sauce. Ok, am I starting to sound like a hipster now? Take my word for it, this stuff is awesome on everything from breakfast sandwiches to roasted cauliflower!

Club Soda. When you’re tired of drinking plain ol’ water, go for the fizzy stuff! Hint- combine with a shot of vodka or tequila, a few drops of stevia, mint, and fresh lemon or lime juice for a guilt free cocktail ;)

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In the Pantry

Sweetener of choice. Top picks are local honey for mediating allergies, maple syrup for depth of flavor, and stevia or Splenda for the calorie conscious. A word of caution: your goal should be to cut back on all sweeteners overall, even the calorie free ones.

Garlic, Onions, Tomatoes, and Avocados. Don’t store these in the fridge, but have them on hand because they work well in lots of different recipes.

Lemons and Limes. Use citrus fruit and fresh mint to jazz up your water. This will make it easier to stay hydrated throughout the day and keep from snacking excessively.

Red Wine Vinegar and Balsamic Vinegar. Mix 1 part vinegar with 2 parts olive oil along with some garlic power, salt, and pepper for a quick and easy vinaigrette dressing.

Whole-grain pasta and Quinoa. Both cook in 15 minutes or less.

Canned and Dry Beans. Try black beans for southwestern soups and salads. Lentils are versatile and cook up quickly.

Oatmeal. Choose whole oats or unflavored instant. You can grind oats up in a blender to use in place of breadcrumbs when making meatloaf.

Whole-grain bread. Check labels for brands that have at least 3 grams of fiber per slice.

Applesauce. Look for an unsweetened brand.

Dried or canned beans. Chickpeas, black beans, and fat-free refried beans are rich in protein.

Whole wheat couscous. cooks just as quickly as the regular kind and can be used in cold salads.

Brown rice. A great source of whole grains. Cook up a bunch and keep in the fridge.

Sweet potatoes have lots of vitamin A.

Whole-grain breakfast cereal. Aim for at least 5 grams of fiber and fewer than 8 grams of sugar. Rather than serving up a huge bowl of cereal, measure out ¾ cup into your yogurt or use as part of a trail mix.

Nuts and seeds. Go for almonds, walnuts, pistachios, and sunflower seeds.

Salsa. A zesty way to sneak in more veggies.

Jarred pasta sauce. Add extra veggies like shredded zucchini, diced mushrooms, onions, and spinach.

Dried fruit. ¼ cup counts as a serving of fruit. Choose unsweetened varieties to mix into homemade trail mix. Trader Joe’s carries unsweetened dried fruit.

Canned salmon and light tuna. For salads and sandwiches. Swap an avocado for the mayo to make tuna salad extra healthy and satisfying.

Peanut butter. or other nut butters.

Unsweetened Cocoa Powder. Use unsweetened cocoa in your protein shakes, coffee, or mixed into almond butter with a few drops of liquid stevia (homemade Nutella without all the sugar!).

Whey Protein Isolate. This protein powder, whatever the brand, should pack in 20-25g protein per scoop with <1g fat and sugar. Whey protein isolate is absorbed quickly, so it’s perfect as a post workout supplement.

High Quality Protein Bars. Look for 20g protein with as little sugar and as much fiber as possible. Quest bars pack in 20g protein with 17g fiber and only 1g sugar… hard to beat that! Use these as a snack ONCE per day! Remember to eat real food too ;)

Chia Seeds and Ground Flax. Opt for cold-milled flax for the most omega 3 benefit. Stir this into yogurt, smoothies, and cereals for a boost of fiber and protein. Flax and chia seeds help keep you feeling full and satisfied between meals. Craving dessert? Stir 3 tablespoons of chia seeds into ½ cup of milk with sweetener of your choice and 1 tsp vanilla extract. Pop it in the fridge for 30 minutes and you’ll have a healthy pudding to snack on!

Olive and Coconut Oil. Use these for cooking. Keep some of your olive oil in a spray bottle to mist vegetables for roasting.

Spices. Keep a variety of spices on hand to add flavor to your food without too much salt. Mrs. Dash blends are great.

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In the Freezer

Boneless chicken breasts. Grill a bunch and add to pasta, salads, stir fries, and more throughout the week.

Lean ground beef and bison. Buy 90 percent lean.

Salmon and other low-mercury fish such as cod and tilapia.

Frozen veggies. Besides the basics, pick up high-protein edamame.

Ground turkey. Look for 93%  lean and drain after cooking.

Veggie burgers made from soy protein or black beans.

Frozen fruit (no sugar added) to eat from the bag or add to smoothies. Freeze your own by peeling and slicing bananas and storing in Ziploc bags.

Do you have anything to add? What foods keep you prepared and in control of your eating?