As a mum to a now 18 month old daughter, I know a thing or two about sleepless nights! Pre-Elsa, I was a 9 hours a night kinda girl, but I have been pleasantly surprised that I’ve actually felt fine on anything from 4hrs ( in the early breast-feeding days) to 7 hours which is my new average.
I was lucky enough to meet Dr Sohère Roked last night, author of ‘The Tiredness Cure’ which led me to thinking about this subject. She told me that one of her principles is the 70/30 rule: “If you are ‘good’ and eat well, exercise and manage your stress for 70 % of the time then your ‘well-being bank balance’ will stay in the black. I thoroughly agree with this, and that’s pretty much how I live my life. I start my day with a green veg & fruit smoothie and hot water, but mid-morning I have a latte and croissant! Lunch is usually pretty healthy (today was turkey breast, steamed leeks and broccoli and a baked potato) but I may sneak a line of dark chocolate later (actually, there is no may I will eat some dark chocolate just as soon as I get to the shops! But, I’ll have a couple of brazil nuts too, to slow down the sugar rush and add some protein).
Dr Roked covers stress, hormones, exercise and diet (amongst other things) and I think this is a great book for anyone feeling a bit under the weather or tired for no reason.
Talking of stress and hormones, any new (or indeed not-so-new) Mums struggling with their life-load, here are my top tips that helped me get through the first 18 months of motherhood with a surprising amount of energy:
1) Get outside! Whatever the weather, dress appropriately (this can seem a kerfuffle with a little one but worth it) and hit the streets or park. Brisk walking will help to level out your mood, boost your energy and help you get back into shape if that is an issue. Your little one will also appreciate the fresh air and moving scenery (and a happier Mummy!)
2) Start the day right. Its easy to forget yourself amongst all the baby’s needs, but having an awesome breakfast will set you up for the day. Add some protein to keep you going for longer such as a sprinkle of ground almonds on your porridge, or peanut butter on your toast.
3) Get a blender or juicer. I literally swear that my daily green juice kept me going through the toughest times. A typical juice for me is spinach, kale, third of an avocado, half a banana, coconut or oat milk, green powders (with spirulina etc), then maybe half a pear or apple, some cucumber if around and some fresh parsley. I blend it with a good quality vanilla protein powder and it makes roughly a pint of uber-goodness that tastes surprisingly yummy! Its easy to digest as its blended & broken down and is a complete meal. Even after 4 hours sleep, combining work and baby I still had energy and stamina to go-go-go!
4) Get some headspace! Now this is harder than it sounds when you have a baby or toddler around the place. But, even if you can take 10 minutes a day when they nap, it will repay you by the bucket-load. There is an amazing app and website called Headspace which will guide you through daily meditations (5, 10 15, or 20 minutes for beginners). These clever people make it easy and I swear that with practice it will help you to become a calmer, more patient person to be around.
5) Do Pilates. I cannot expound highly enough about the merits of Pilates. What I will say is that if you’ve had a baby, it will put you back together again. If you have backache, it will ease it away. If you have round shoulders and a hunch back (typical Mum posture from feeding and heaving baby and pram around) it will straighten you up and knock years off you! I’m lucky that I teach it as I get to live with it, but if you’ve not tried it, then grab a book, DVD or local teacher and get on with it! You’ll gain energy as your body will no longer have to fight against poor posture and weak, slumped muscles. You’ll be able to breathe easier and will feel 10 years younger! (Can you tell I like it?)
(And by the way, I wrote a book called ’10 Minute Pilates’ last Christmas which came out in March this year, so there is no excuse!!)