May 12, 2017

How Becoming a Mother Made Me Healthier

One Mom’s Narrative about the Evolution of Her Healthy Lifestyle

Alison Lamothe - Healthy Mother

Once upon a time, before Kids entered the picture, I could be found in the gym. A lot.

I taught group fitness classes, ran with friends, worked out with friends – working out was a social thing for me, and it kept me busy. Very busy. Sure, working out and eating healthy made me feel good too, but my reasons back then to stay fit were not primarily those. Working out was for vanity purposes, social interaction, and to fill time.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to look your best and be with friends at the gym. Who doesn’t want to look good, or fit in their clothes? But I spent hours and hours at the gym before I became a mother – to the point of burn out. It wasn’t healthy. About a year before my first son, I reached my max, and just stopped. That year, I gained 50lbs. After having my son, I had gained another 50lbs and was at the heaviest I had ever been. By that point, I no longer had the free time to get to the gym. Even if I did, I was too embarrassed to show my face. I was completely stuck on how to get started back up again. I thought I would have to spend a lot of time exercising, just like before – time I just didn’t have anymore.

Alison Lamothe - Healthy Mother

No Time and No Energy

To make things worse, I was tired all the time when I become a mother. My lack of sleep and energy came as a surprise. Don’t get me wrong, I knew I’d be tired, but not to the point where I’d be fighting sleep all day long. I worked full-time, had a long commute, and once I got home from work my day wouldn’t stop – which I’m sure is pretty typical for any mother. I had dinner to make, dishes to wash, bath time, tidying up, bedtime struggles, and by the time all of that was done I would crash! The last thing I wanted to do was work out.

Ever notice, though, that when you make the decision to do something, you suddenly have all the time in the world to do it? And all of those excuses you once had are long gone. Suddenly you have a solution to them all. That was me. I honestly think I got to the point where I was so exhausted, I had no other choice but to change. My children also played a big part. I wanted to be healthy for them, for my husband, for myself – so that I would have energy again (both mentally and physically) and in turn be more present for them.

Alison Lamothe - Healthy Mother

You have to start somewhere

So, I decided to start walking with my son. I had received a very nice jogging stroller as a gift, and put it to use. At the same time, I started using at-home workout DVDs and streaming workouts online so I could get weight training in and mix it up a bit. At first I hated the idea of working out at home, but I didn’t have hours and hours to give to the gym like before. I had to do something, and that was what made sense at the time.

At the same time, I took a look at my eating habits. For a long time I had been pretty neglectful of my nutrition. Instead, I would just spend hours and hours at the gym in order to lose weight and be happy with my body. Now that I had kids, that wasn’t possible! I had 30 minutes every day, if that. I knew I HAD to dial in my nutrition.

It turned out that nutrition was 85% of the puzzle. Realizing that I couldn’t “out-exercise” a poor diet, I started to plan my meals ahead of time, and prep healthy options to grab and go each week. I would pack healthy options to bring on the road with us wherever we went. I made sure to bring plenty of water, and have snacks for the kids. It wasn’t easy to do this all of the time – but the more I prioritized it, the more I started to do it without really even thinking about it.

Alison Lamothe - Healthy Mother

No More Excuses, but Plenty of Flexibility

I started to focus on a “no excuses” mentality. I knew that exercise would help me become the healthy mother that I so wanted to be. It would help me to lose weight, gain energy, and provide so many benefits. So I made it a priority no matter what. With kids, though, you have got to be flexible. I would try to get my workouts done in the morning, but if I couldn’t, I’d make sure it happened at lunch. If I didn’t get it done at lunch, then I’d make it a priority once the kids went to bed. Did I want to work out at night? NEVER. I never wanted to do that. If I’d committed to a workout program though, you better believe that I’d be power clashing at midnight if I had to!

“I felt a change in my outlook, my mental health, and my attitude. It was pretty incredible.”

I also kept my workouts short and sweet. You can get a great workout done in just 30 minutes, so very rarely did I spend much more time than that. Doing that took the “I don’t have time” excuse, and knocked it down.

Developing this “no excuse” mentality was not easy at first. I felt like I was being pulled in so many directions as a mom. With time though, I started to get great results, which motivated me. When I ate poorly, I would feel it. It’s almost as if the workouts didn’t even matter! But, when I ate well, drank plenty of water, and got in my 30 minutes of exercise, my body and mind started to transform. I felt a change in my outlook, my mental health, and my attitude. It was pretty incredible. I lost 80lbs after my first son! I also ran my first half marathon, and was able to maintain a much healthier pregnancy my second time around.

Alison Lamothe - Healthy Mother

It’s About Priorities, Not Perfection

These days, I’m in a routine that finally works well for me and my family. But I didn’t become a healthier mother overnight, and I’m not perfect. You have to take it day by day, and be flexible! Know that one day might go totally to plan, and you’ll feel on top of the world, only for the next day to be a total disaster. You may even feel like you’ll never stay on track. That’s OK! Leading a healthier life is not easy all of the time. Some days will be hard, and you’ll feel like giving up. Try not to set unrealistic expectations for yourself, and be ok with small little changes along the way.

If you feel you don’t have a support system, find online groups, or groups within your community that can be that for you. There are TONS of them out there, and sometimes connecting with other mothers on the same journey can help more than anything.

With all of the diets and fitness plans out there, it’s no wonder that we beat ourselves up so much whenever we eat poorly or miss a workout. It shouldn’t be that way – we should be able to indulge here and there without beating ourselves up about it. Being a healthy mother isn’t even so much about balance, as it’s about prioritizing health. If you prioritize your health – from fitness to nutrition – then a bad day of eating or a day off plan won’t derail you. You’ll bounce right back to eating healthy at your next meal, and make it to your workout tomorrow.