Where did self-care go?

meditateIs mum life really the answer to this question? Chances are, your children may have inspired you to be your healthiest self before they were in your arms. So what has changed? Let’s consider the journey to ‘mummyhood’ and figure out where caring for ourselves was lost.

At the beginning, the instant you make that decision to grow your family and have a baby, your life changes. You become more conscious about your health, you cut down on alcohol and processed foods and you adopt any practice that will improve your chances of conceiving. You read everything you can on fertility and you dream about the kind of mum you want to be. If, like me, falling pregnant takes a lot longer than you expected, you start to take on a holistic approach to health. No chemicals, no sugar, a kitchen bursting with fertility friendly foods and you take part in activities that promote both physical and emotional wellbeing. You’re probably the healthiest you have ever been.

When you finally get the amazing news that you are pregnant, you are probably the healthiest and happiest you have ever been. During pregnancy, you take care of yourself like never before. If you’re tired you rest, you put your feet up or take a nap. Some foods are now totally out of the question and your focus is on nutritious and nourishing foods. You become so in tune with your body, noticing every feeling and change and you make any adjustment needed to feel comfortable. Gentle movement, breathing exercises and affirmations become part of your daily routine. Plus everyone around you does everything they can to nurture you. The greatest motivation to looking after you is your growing baby. You matter so very much.

Then your bundle of joy arrives earth side and while people still care very much about your wellbeing, it’s all about that beautiful baby. A few weeks into ‘mummyhood’, it’s likely that you are no longer a priority to yourself, your life totally revolves around your little one. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, they need us so much. But they need us to be at our healthiest and happiest too. When they were in the womb they thrived on this. Now that they are lying beside us, what has changed? You still matter so much!

I believe that mum life is a distraction from ourselves. But we always have a choice, just like before when we made those positive choices for our health and wellbeing. As mums, we don’t have an abundance of time or freedom for ourselves so we need to re-define what self-care means for us now. It may look completely different. We may think we have no time for self-care, are too busy or too tired. These are obstacles that we can easily remove with a change in perspective, check out my article on this here. So what is left, is for us to make a choice to reclaim our health and wellbeing. Our greatest motivation is our family, just like before. Are you ready to rediscover the benefits of self-care again? What is one thing that you can do today for you? Self-care isn’t always about ‘me first’, it’s about ‘me too’.

I am so passionate about women, especially mums living their healthiest and happiest lives. I know first-hand that this benefits everyone around us. If self-care is the missing piece to the puzzle for you then you may be interested in my Shine Bright Mama workshop and the Shine Bright Mama 30 days of self-care journey that I will be running again soon on Instagram. For more details you can visit my website here, or contact me here.

Shine Bright Mama.xx

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Shine Bright Mama – How to make time for self-care

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Mama, you matter. Making time for self-care is not a luxury, it’s essential. But one of the biggest roadblocks to creating this time, is thinking that we just don’t have the time. If I told you that wasn’t true, you’d probably consider that a joke. But when we dive in a little deeper, you might find that you do, indeed have time for you. We can solve this roadblock from the inside out, starting with our thought patterns and mindset. Let’s take a look at three ways we can change our thinking around time and how to find that sacred time for us.

Too busy

What does being too busy really look like and mean to you? Yes, we have a lot going on with our children, relationships, home life, work life etc. It’s more than a balancing act at times. However, when we take a closer look it may be our thoughts and the language we use in relation to busy-ness that is the real obstacle. It honestly comes down to what is important to us. I love Dr Libby’s approach to this thought on not having the time. Rather than saying ‘I don’t have time for that’ or ‘I’m too busy for that’, change it to, ‘That isn’t a priority for me’. You will always have time for what is important to you. And mama you are important! You are worth taking care of, you just need to make the choice.

Perception of time

Consider the quote, “I have so much to do today, I better meditate twice as long.” Initially it may seem counter-intuitive but it is so incredibly true. I realised early on what works best for me is that when Isla goes down for her nap, the first thing I do is something that refuels me. I do a yoga dvd, have a cup of tea and read a book or do some writing, if I’m feeling particularly tired I’ll lie down and close my eyes. After about half an hour, I’m ready tackle my ‘to do’ list and I get it done quickly and easily. The chores aren’t so much of a chore because I’ve done something good for myself first. I’m not spending the whole time thinking: ‘once this is done, and that is done I can finally relax.’ Because I’ve already relaxed. When you’ve taken some time for you, time seems to expand and you feel like there is enough of it to complete all of your tasks. In my experience, when I’m solely focussed on completing chores, it never happens that way and I run out of time. If this is your experience too, try taking a break to refuel yourself before you get moving again.

Just say no

This is a biggie! Everything that fills up your day, you have said yes to and only you can make the choice to change this. Truth bomb!! I know for a lot of us, we become all things to all people. Often trying to hold on to elements of our lifestyle before kids, plus taking care of our kids and pleasing others too. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves. The simple act of saying ‘no’ can be freeing. You may think that saying no is difficult, but when it comes down to the doing and the over filled schedule, saying ‘yes’ is actually more difficult. It may feel challenging at first, but finding a way to say ‘no’ with love will be one of the best things you can do for you. Be honest with those around you about your time, your commitments and priorities. Be honest about needing time to yourself. Respect yourself and your time, and when you show that you respect your time, others will respect your time too. If you create boundaries from a place of love and self-care, you’ll be rewarded for it. Create these healthy boundaries then lovingly enforce them without the guilt.

Mama, it’s no longer ok to put yourself last. Self-care everyday is a non-negotiable and the benefits will ripple outward. I like to think of us as the sun, and when we are looking after ourselves and shining our brightest, those warm, energising, nurturing and nourishing rays are reaching those around us, touching and impacting on their lives too.

I know self-care is important to you and I would love to meet you at my Shine Bright Mama workshop in August. We’ll explore:

+ Why self-care is the best ‘health care’
+ How to make self-care a priority and part of your routine
+ How to get in touch with what really lights you up and refuels you
+ Ways to create time for self-care
+ How to remove the guilt from your ‘mama me time’
+ Practical tips and ideas to truly nurture you

You will leave feeling inspired and motivated with an action plan to incorporate self-care into your daily routine. Follow this link for more details and to book your space. I’m looking forward to meeting you!

Shine bright mama.xx

How I made peace…

_DSC6620Ever since my interview with Gaby Gogarty about my fertility journey, I have wanted to follow up with how I came to make peace with my situation. I mention in the interview that thoughts of having a baby don’t consume me, I have surrendered to whatever will be, will be. There were a few steps in making peace with the fact that I may never have children of my own and I want to share that with you, in the hope that it may help you on your own journey. I also think these steps can be translated to support healing in other situations such as a bad break-up, job loss or overcoming a health issue.

Gratitude
This was definitely the first step in regaining my happiness and strength. I began with being grateful for the simplest of things such as being able to see and hear. My body may not be able to do exactly what I want it to do at that time, but it is strong enough to hike to the top of a mountain or get me through a tough yoga class. I was grateful for all of the things that my amazing body could do. Beyond my physical self, I also thought about how fortunate I am to have a lot of love in my life from my husband, family and friends. I have a modest but beautiful home and a job that allows us to live comfortably. As a primary school teacher, I am surrounded by children every day and have a very important role in their lives. I also have two stepsons and nieces and nephews, there are a lot of children in my life.

If you are going through a difficult time at the moment, I can’t speak enough about the simplicity of gratitude and focussing on what you do have. This simple act brings so much happiness and a new perspective.

Visualisation: “If I don’t have kids, what will my life look like?”
Once I made the decision that IVF was not the right thing for me, I had to face the fact that there was a very small chance that I could have a baby of my own. If this didn’t happen, what would my life look like? This was a conversation that my husband and I had together, as it’s not just my life, it’s our life. I’ve never known what it is like to have a child so it was quite easy for me to not get caught up on what I could possibly be missing out on.

The biggest factor that came to mind was freedom. Once my stepsons have finished school, we would be free to travel, possibly even live overseas, downsize our home and move closer to the beach. There were many options for us and a future to look forward to. A positive spin on things can make all the difference.

Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity.
– Hippocrates

Growth, move on, set goals, take action
The best way to take your mind off something is to be active. I decided that the most important thing was for me to focus on being the healthiest and happiest version of myself. I completely overhauled my beauty regime. I ditched the perfumes, commercial deodorants and hair products, face creams and make up. I replaced all of this with chemical free and non-toxic versions. I also began to only shop at farmers markets for my fruit and veg and found an organic farmer who delivers to my door. I ate a lot more gut healing foods and cooked a lot more from scratch. I also continued with my outdoor yoga and walking routine. Eventually my lifestyle and interests led me to enrol at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Studying and working full time, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and relationships as well as starting my own business filled me up each day. I was growing personally, setting goals and achieving them. 

Translate the qualities of being a mum…
Finally, I couldn’t help but think I would be a great mum. I’m caring, nurturing a good listener, quite calm and patient and would love seeing something that I created grow every day. All of these qualities can certainly be suited to other situations. As a Health Coach and having my own business, I employ these qualities each day and it is incredibly fulfilling. Plus, I’m a fur mumma to my beautiful dog and he gets a lot of love and nurturing from me!

It may be helpful, if you’re going through a difficult time, to think about the feelings or qualities that you believe you are missing out on. Or perhaps the attributes that are important to you. What are some other ways that you can get this into your life?

When things aren’t going the way you had hoped or planned, it can be very easy to allow thoughts of this to occupy your mind and your time. This can make the situation worse as it begins to wear you down and affect your happiness and eventually, your health. I hope that the process I went through to make peace with my situation will also help you through yours. I would love to hear from you if you found something in this article that resonated with you. Please leave a comment below.

If you missed my interview with Gaby Gogarty, you can read it here.

Shine Bright.x

Make Peace with Your Plate – Book Review

make-peace-with-your-plateReading is one of my favourite things to do. I usually have about three books on the go; one for business, one for health/spirit and one for fun. Then I have more books waiting for me when I’ve finished them. I also have an ever growing list of “must reads” to get through!! Who’s with me? Earlier this year I joined a Wellness Book Club where us book nerds share our thoughts and ideas about a particular book each month. One of the books we read was Make Peace with Your Plate by Jess Ainscough, and now I’m sharing my review with you.

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Australia’s very own Wellness Warrior has left a significant legacy. The passing of Jess Ainscough earlier this year was felt by the many lives she touched. The authenticity of her blog and her story as well as her message of wellness resonated with so many people who in turn felt a connection to her. I had followed her blog for a couple of years and credit her inspiring story, enthusiasm and dedication to health for sparking a transformation in my own life. I started 2015 with my ‘books to read this year’ list which included Make Peace with Your Plate – finally! Picking up this gem for the first time after her passing was both comforting and poignant.

Jess’ story is both heart-breaking and remarkable. At just 22 years old her life was turned upside down when she was diagnosed with a rare type of incurable cancer and told that her only option to prolong her life was to amputate her arm. She was like any young woman; partying, living each day as it comes, surviving on junk food and battling body issues. Her shocking diagnosis was a life-changing catalyst for extreme change to her lifestyle, beginning with a three week stay at the Gerson clinic in Mexico. Two years of hourly fresh, organic veggie juices each day, a basic plant based diet and five coffee enemas a day followed.

She was absolutely, one-hundred percent committed to her health with the support of her parents, boyfriend and fur babies. An obsession to research everything about natural, alternative cancer therapies and treatments as well as how to bring her body to optimum health forms the basis for a lot of information in this book. She acknowledges that the information isn’t new, but rather something we have forgotten along the way and need to relearn.

What I absolutely love about Make Peace with Your Plate is that it is part reference book, part autobiography and part self-help book, all interwoven in an easy to read and light kind of way. She speaks about the chemicals in our foods, nutrition, whole-foods, a plant based diet and debunks some ‘truths’ about dietary claims. She shares some useful information on superfoods and how to use them as well as reading labels. Most useful is the ‘how’. You will find a lot of value in how to put all of this information into practice.

Going beyond the plate, Jess rightfully acknowledges that our wellbeing is based on more than what we put in our mouths. We must take a holistic approach. For me, having a regular meditation practice is important but something I never prioritise. Jess shares the details of her own practice and how to do it, this really helped me out with my routine. While reading this book I also got back into dry body brushing and felt amazing for it. I was also inspired to try oil pulling for the first time. All I can manage is 3 minutes. I’m not sure how someone with kids or a dog could possibly do this for 20 minutes in the morning. Another thing is the coffee enemas…..hmmm, still need to get my head around that one!

We can read a number of text books or spend an afternoon googling the theories and philosophy for health and wellness included in Make Peace with Your Plate. But what we would be missing out on is Jess’ incredibly inspiring story. How a young woman with a serious illness intuitively makes decisions for her own health, researches daily practices and nutritional information to allow her to thrive and manages to live a life full of gratitude and positivity. Her holistic approach to wellness and what that looks like in her daily life is what sets this book apart from the rest. Her authenticity, honesty and passion shines throughout this entire book, engaging the reader from start to finish.

A truly inspiring book that empowers us to live our healthiest lives.

Have you read Make Peace with Your Plate? I’d love to hear your thoughts. If you enjoyed this book review please let me know in the comments. If it’s something you’re interested in, I would really enjoy writing more reviews for you.xx

Chocolate Crackles

choc crackleToday I found myself without any chocolate in the house on World Chocolate Day!! Luckily I had the time to create a chocolatey, delicious and healthy treat with some ingredients in my cupboard. This is ideal for the 3pm sweet fix, for morning tea or as a snack. Perfect with a cup of tea.

You will need:
1/3 cup raw buckwheat
1/3 cup shredded coconut
1/3 cup almonds chopped
1/3 cup pepitas
1/3 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup cacao nibs handful of dried fruit eg, goji berries, raspberries, cranberries
1 dessert spoon of cacao powder
1 dessert spoon of organic maple syrup (if you want more sweetness)
4 heaped dessert spoons of coconut oil

What to do:
1. Mix all dry ingredients together along with the maple syrup.
2. Melt the coconut oil then add it to the dry ingredients. Mix together.
3. Spoon mixture into cupcake paper cases or a silicon muffin tray.
4. Place in the fridge for at least 15 minutes to set. Enjoy!choc crackle 2

This recipe can easily be made without the almonds for a nut free version. If you don’t have all of these ingredients, substitute and create your own version! The coconut oil is key in holding it all together. I’d love to hear what you put in your own chocolate crackle recipe, leave a comment below. I also think this treat is best enjoyed in winter as it would melt very quickly in summer.

Want to know more about how to integrate healthier habits and foods into your life? I am an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and can support you with tips and information to re-boot your health. Contact me here for your free Health Coaching session and go into the draw to win a beautiful self-care pack.

Turmeric Tonic for Winter Wellness

turmerictonic2If you’re after some preventative medicine and immunity support, you’ll be very interested in making this healthy tonic. I first made it around this time last year when I was feeling run down, like I was getting a cold and also had shoulder and neck pain. A huge believer in food as medicine, I had heard some amazing things about turmeric that I thought would give my body the support and healing it needed.

How did we get into the mindset that we need to visit the pharmacy when feeling less than 100%? I always turn to mother nature first.

Turmeric is a powerful natural anti-inflammatory, this is so important because most illness begins with inflammation. It is thought that India’s very low rate of Alzheimer’s disease is due to eating turmeric at almost every meal. Amazing stuff!

The properties of this incredible spice assists in keeping infection away, it is a flu fighter and also helps to repair skin. Plus it’s a natural painkiller, which is why I was drawn to use it to soothe my shoulder.

Research has shown that turmeric can be effective in lowering your risk of heart disease, improve brain function, treat symptoms of arthritis and benefits against depression. It can also prevent and possibly even treat cancer. Turmeric is THE spice you need to add to your diet for longevity and vitality. You can read more about the mind-blowing benefits here and here.

Have you used turmeric before? It is the spice that gives curries their yellow colour and looks very similar to ginger. When you buy fresh turmeric, you may not be able to distinguish it from ginger or you may notice that it has an orange or yellow shade.

A word of caution when making this tonic is not to wear white, be careful if you have white benches and try not to get too much on your hands and nails because it will stain. Fresh is best for this recipe.

How to make Turmeric Tonic (serves 4)

  1. In a saucepan add:turmeric tonic
  • 4cm stick of turmeric (or preferred amount) grated
  • 2cm chunk of ginger (or preferred amount) grated
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 4 cups of water
  1. Let it simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring.
  2. Use a strainer when pouring into your cup.
  3. Add honey and milk if desired. Enjoy!

If you have leftovers I recommend straining the liquid into glass jars and storing in the fridge, so you can heat some up each day. This tonic is best enjoyed at the end of the day and will feel like a nice warm hug!

What are some other ways you like to use turmeric? I like to add it to scrambled eggs, stir fry’s, a turmeric and carrot soup and juices or smoothies. You can find the recipe for my Turmeric Cauli Rice here.

10 Reasons to Visit a Farmer’s Market!

vegIt started out as a “date” with my husband on a Sunday morning. We saw a sign advertising the local Farmer’s Market and decided to check it out. There was live music and delicious food stalls, plus they sold the newspaper. So we would sit on the grass in the shade or sun, depending on the season, soak up the sounds and catch up on the news while enjoying a gozleme and a coffee. Afterwards we’d shop for our fruit and vegetables for the week. A very happy and relaxing Sunday morning!

Around the same time I saw the films Forks Over Knives, Foodmatters and Food Inc. Eating local and understanding where our food comes from and how it is grown really mattered to me. I also started Meat Free Monday in my household so including more plant based foods in our diet was also really important. So much so, that our Farmer’s Market visit became our weekly shop. Sometimes we would just be in and out in 15 minutes buying what we needed. The value for money really surprised us. We were coming home with bags of fresh produce and we hadn’t spent much at all. In fact, many prices at the markets were much cheaper than the supermarket.

Not only were we getting more value for our money but we were also getting better quality. These locally grown fruits and vegetables tasted amazing! I have had fruit and vegetables from a supermarket in the last year and I can honestly say that there is a huge difference in the taste. After buying directly from a farmer, I now know how fresh fruits and vegetables should taste. I encourage you to test it out for yourself.

Here are some reasons why you should visit a Farmer’s Market this weekend:

  1. Everything tastes better because it is fresh
  2. More nutritious as it’s sold right after it’s picked
  3. Support local farming families
  4. Eating in season and fresh, ripe foods increases the foods’ vitality
  5. Less packaging
  6. It’s cheaper to buy organic and spray free produce from the local farmer
  7. Promotes energy conservation due to reduction in transport
  8. Supports the environment and wildlife, farmers have respect for their land
  9. Builds community as you get to know the farmer and the story behind what you eat
  10. It’s fun! Farmer’s Markets are fun for everyone!

Now, five years later, things have changed; the Farmer’s Market is no longer a “date”. My donkey (husband!) only accompanies me occasionally, so now I happily visit the markets on my own or with my mum and carry my own bags!!

I have found an amazing local farmer who delivers fresh, spray free, organic produce to my door. But I do visit the markets for particular fruit and veggie items as well as organic meat, kombucha, eggs and fresh bread.

Where do you buy your fruit and veg? Are you a regular at the Farmer’s Market? Please leave a comment below with your favourite one and why.

I offer Farmer’s Market tours as well as Supermarket and Health Food Store tours in my Health Coaching Program, you can find out more here.

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