“Nourishing yourself in a way that helps you blossom in the direction you want to go is attainable, and you are worth the effort.” – Deborah Day
When it comes to family health in India, the focus has traditionally been on the health of the man of the house and the children. According to the World Economic forum and the United Nation’s Human Development Report, India is among the worst countries in the world when it comes to gender equality in health care. It’s no surprise then that advertisements for ‘health’ products always seem to show how the woman is responsible for her husband’s health. So who is responsible for the woman’s health?
The answer to this question is obvious: the women themselves. But with caring for their homes, their children, spouse and even in-laws, women usually leave their own needs for the last, which usually end up getting neglected. This is one of the reasons why women in India see the doctor only at a late stage, when niggling illnesses become complicated. When asked why they waited this long, nearly everyone has the same reply: “Who has the time?”
So that, dear Mommies, is the question we’re tackling today! Your health is as important as your husband’s, may be even more, considering that you’re everyone else’s caretaker! Not having the time is no longer an excuse you can afford, you need to MAKE time for yourself. Besides keeping yourself in top shape, it also sends across an important message to the next generation – that self care is important – for both girls and boys.
Pretty much any health article these days will tell you about the rising incidence of lifestyle diseases, especially among the urban population. More and more women are suffering from diabetes, hypertension, breast cancer, obesity, depression, heart disease and osteoporosis. Most of these can be avoided with a healthy and active lifestyle.
We can hear you say, “Yes, we know this too, but SERIOUSLY, where is the time?” Okay, we’re Moms too, so we know that all this isn’t as easy as it sounds. But where there’s a will, there is a way, and as Moms, we are experts at finding solutions, aren’t we? So here are 13 easy tips for busy Moms to stay healthy, without having to live at the gym!
13 Tips for Busy Moms to Stay Healthy
1. Set a proper Bedtime
If you’re just starting out on a healthy lifestyle, the first thing we’ll suggest fixing is your sleep. You know all about the importance of bedtime routines in babies, but it’s just as important for you as well. Fix a bedtime for yourself, after your baby’s last feed before he sleeps and stick to it. Don’t spend the rest of the night picking up toys and folding clothes. Get your husband to do it, or leave if for the maid in the morning. Make sure your bedtime is sacrosanct. Clean sheets, fresh pyjamas and some light reading should help you doze off.
2. Insert Naps during the Day
Power naps during the afternoon have been shown to increase productivity and keep people’s brains fresh. As a Mom, naps are your power banks to recharge the lost sleep at night, thanks to your baby. It’ll bring down the stress hormones and lift your energy for the rest of the day. If you have never been in the habit of napping, it might feel strange, but keep trying to get in that short 20 minute nap. Of course, the timing will depend on when your little prince decides to nap too!
3. Keep a Water Bottle Handy
We’re supposed to drink at least 2 liters of water in a day, more if you’re a breast feeding Mom. Good hydration is necessary for proper functioning of all your systems, and also helps you lose weight. This is one thing we often forget to do, so keeping a 1 or 2 liter water bottle around helps. Tell everyone that this bottle is only for YOU, so you can track how much water you’re actually drinking in a day. Make it a nice, bright pink bottle to keep your husband’s hands off it!
4. Make a Meal Plan
Now that you’re sleeping and hydrating enough, it’s time to work on your food. First of all, make a weekly menu with everything clearly marked out – breakfast, lunch, dinner, lunchbox, after school snack – everything. Ensure a good balance of carbohydrates, protein, fruit and vegetables, and make a grocery list according to it. With a plan like this, you can make use of an hour or so on the weekend to peel and chop everything so that you can whip up a healthy meal in no time and can avoid eating out or ordering in. Try our exhaustive recipe index for suggestions for all your meals.
5. Ban Processed Foods
There are no two ways about this – just say ‘No’ to all processed foods. Don’t be fooled by what the advertisements say; those noodles DO NOT have real vegetables in them. Commercially packaged food are full of preservatives and chemicals which can cause serious problems in the long run. Yes, it can be tempting to make an ‘instant’ meal when you’re dead tired, but if you’ve meal planned and got everything ready in the fridge, a healthy meal will take up the same amount of time, trust us. If you are gifted a huge box of chocolates or sweets, distribute them among your neighbors or your staff, so you are rid of it immediately.
6. Snack Smart
Snacking is where most of us get derailed from our good intentions. The only solution for this is to stock up on healthy snacks. Keep an assortment – sweet, crunchy, savory – so that whatever mood you’re in, you have something ready. Take care to carry a snack when you go out too, just as you do for your toddler. Try mixed nuts, cucumber or carrot sticks with hummus, apple slices with peanut butter, frozen bananas or some bhel with chopped veggies. We have a lot of healthy snack options that aren’t deep fried or heavy on sugar – so do try those out as well!
7. Follow Proper Meal Times
Stocking your fridge and pantry with healthy foods is good, but you need to eat your meals at the right time as well. It is recommended to eat your first meal within an hour after waking up, and your last meal three hours before bed. This can be tricky if your waking and sleeping is dictated by a newborn, but try to stick to them as far as possible. Many women wait for their husbands or in-laws to eat first – this can leave you feeling very hungry and then pouncing on your dinner like a maniac!
8. Use Smaller Plates
If you think about it, many of the lifestyle diseases we mentioned above result from being overweight. The key to losing weight is more portion control than working out, and an easy way to do this is by using smaller plates. Now you don’t need any extra time for this tip! You’ll eat less, but feel just as full. One more tip, take whatever you need at the first serving, ensuring a good balance of all food groups. If you’re still hungry, make that second serving only for salad or vegetables – this will keep those calories from piling up.
9. Pick an Easy Workout
Yes, we’ve come to the exercise part! Exercise is the biggest casualty of a Mom’s busy day, so it’s important to choose something you like doing. Consider the age of your child and the available free gaps in your day, and pick something. A gym may not be feasible with young children, and most people just pay and don’t go anyway. Try a workout that interests you – could be a walk around your building, a simple yoga video, some Bollywood dancing, lift weights – anything. All these are easy, and can be done anywhere. The more you like your workout, the higher the chances that you’ll stick with it.
10. Schedule your Workout
We’re not done with the workout yet – you need to fix a time for it. Yes, otherwise it’ll just drown in your various daily responsibilities, so our suggestion would be to do it first thing in the morning before your baby wakes up. Keep your shoes and things ready the previous night. Wake up half an hour early and you’ll be able to finish it by the time little people come demanding their food/milk/bag/socks. Getting it out of the way in the morning is the best way to ensure that you get to do it everyday without interruptions.
11. Stay Active
We’re not talking about your workouts here, just about generally finding ways to move through the day. Try standing on one foot while brushing your teeth or waiting for the tea to boil. Do some simple stretches or sit on a stability ball while watching TV. Take the stairs, fold the clothes while standing – there are many ways you can move your body during the course of the day without having to get sweaty.
Your health includes your mental well being too, so take out some quiet time during the day to just focus. Meditation isn’t some new-age fad, it’s a true art of getting connected with yourself. We think that meditation is especially important for Moms. It helps to build mindfulness, so that when you’re with your child, you can give him your complete, undivided attention. It also reduces stress and helps to maintain an overall positive atmosphere at home. Ever heard of the saying, “If Mom’s not happy, no one’s happy” ?
13. Get Regular Checkups
This is probably the most ignored facet of an Indian woman’s life – visiting the doctor on time. If you notice anything different about your body that doesn’t seem to go away, get it checked out. Schedule other routine checkups and set reminders in your phone, so that you can plan for them well in advance. Let your spouse know too, so that you can arrange for baby sitting.
Motherhood is challenging and it can take a toll on a woman’s mind and body. But this is exactly when you need the most energy as well! Besides, women’s bodies change after menopause and we lose our protective hormones. A healthy lifestyle now will serve as insurance for a healthy old age. So get ready to have a happy, healthy and energy-filled life!