It was a morning like any other morning, I lay in bed, scrolling through Facebook posts when I came across a post about the impossible tension between motherhood, work, kids and life. The article by my interpretation said that balance (and therefore good health) was possible for the wealthiest women only, at the top of their game with the support of nannies and a steely disregard for tradition.
And I thought about my own ongoing struggle to find enough time to balance out kid time, work time, friend time and “me” time. Despite the fact that I’d long since embraced a life beyond tradition something just wasn’t clicking.
I decided for a moment that I would never get it right.
After-all, I’d already purchased the apps, the gym membership, the coaching programs and visits to all of those different professionals only to realise that an ever-growing muffin top hung over the edges of my pyjama pants despite all of the above-mentioned effort – and almost in spite of the endless rules and agreements I chant to myself in the early am.
You know those hours, somewhere between 2am and 4am when the witching hour has passed but the bitching hours are in full swing. The time when uncompromising rules are made for no other purpose than to criticise and embed an inferior complex… No drinking today, half an hour of exercise this afternoon, no eating until 2pm, no white bread, no sweets.
God. I hate those hours.
There have been times in my life when those thoughts, the rules owned me. Times when I’ve easily shed kilo after kilo quickly and efficiently – but to what gain? Certainly to impress others and not me. Therefore, an unsustainable reality.
Still, with a healthy grasp on reality and every kind of medical test now successfully ticked off and passed, I realise that I am a healthy 44 year old woman with curves, bumps and lumps and tastebuds that much prefer soft cheese and a good wine over kale and liver stir-fry. And somehow I must balance this reality with the fact that I want to embrace good health – for a long time. And the additional and more important fact that there are young women (my daughters) paying close attention to my habits in order to make decisions which will guide them.
Inside I really knew that there must be a happy compromise for the sake of my long term health. I also knew that compromise wasn’t only about what I do but also what I think. The following pointers are listed as much for my inspiration as yours. They are gathered from my friends, from reading and from the myriad of professionals I’ve visited in recent times. Here goes… In order to embrace wellbeing past 40…
- Move: As my friend Tracy told me move. Just move your body every single day.
- There are some foods that don’t work for you: I know that as soon as bread, cheese and hot chips go into my gob problems (of the variety of too tight clothing) will start. I know that I must eat these things in a mindful way (i.e. as a treat). I also know that I will rebel this knowledge at any given opportunity.
- Don’t buy it: Once you notice that thing that doesn’t work for you stop buying it. Often easier said then done especially with other people in your house. Seek out sneaky substitutes (e.g. popcorn over chips – cottage cheese over cream cheese)
- Don’t start what you can’t stop: Is it wine? Is it a bag of chips? Whatever it is… If you can’t stop once you start think very hard about buying it in the first place. If you’ve made a conscious decision to imbibe, consciously decide it’s not going to happen often.
- Move: Did I say this already? Saying it again is on purpose.
- Switch off: If life is go, go, go you will eventually switch over to auto-pilot. In auto-pilot any kind of extra-curricula indulging can happen. It’s only fair that you take some time out to give yourself some perspective, time to relax and time outside of ‘busy’.
- Set realistic goals: You’re not going to lose 5kg by Friday but every, single thing that you do between now and Friday will count towards Friday one month, two months, six months away.
- Hang around the people that lift you up: You must know that you are beautiful beyond belief. If you don’t consider that to be the truth just decide that it is and move on from there. I’m so, so tired of hearing beautiful, smart, compelling women drag themselves down because abc person told them they were xyz. Own it lady. You are only here once and you are the only version of you. If the people you are spending time with are making you feel like shit DUMP THEM. Right now. Do it.
- Embrace a positive self-image: It is with an enormous sense of sadness I recall my inner dialogue at the age of 16, 19, 26, 35, 41 about losing weight, spending more time on self-care, getting healthier, looking better. It is only hindsight that tells me I was actually gorgeous then however letting the rules, thoughts and opinions of media, my environment and my own expectations play out. Aussie culture tells me that if I embrace a positive self-image I’m ‘up myself’ – well so be it. FIGJAM…
- If you know you need to change – do something about it: You already know what it is. It’s that thing that keeps nagging you, yet you cannot seem to shake it. If you cannot do it alone get an accountability buddy, a coach, a professional or entrust a friend to kick your butt until something changes.
At the end of the day YOU are the only health guru that you can really rely on. So, what are you waiting for? Identify the changes you want to make, embrace what’s working, make your rules and reach out to those who will truly build you up… your time is right now.