By Wilma Macdonald @_maverickmotherhood.
“You’re a mum now, that’s just the way it is. We’re all tired.”
A note from Anna: I kind of knew it before, cognitively, but this past year it has truly sunk in that I need energy for far more than running after the kids. I need energy to laugh, to rationalise anxious thoughts, to think straight, to enjoy life. This is why I’m so excited to share Wilma’s words with you. Wilma is a nutritionist passionate about equipping fellow mothers with the energy needed to thrive in motherhood, rather than just dragging ourselves through in survival. She shares her five top tips to take you from exhausted to energised.
How many times have you heard that phrase when you’ve shared the fact that you’re so tired you can’t feel your face anymore.
Pre-pandemic, a lot of us were coasting close to our life limits. Now over, what feels like, 3000 lockdown days later, you’re feeling flat, lethargic and rundown, you’re last on the priority list (below the laundry basket) and feel like you’re holding on by your chipped fingernails most of the time.
But it doesn’t have to be this way, I promise.
I know — from real won-in-the-trenches experience — that when you feel frazzled and exhausted, the joy of motherhood is harder to find.
And you deserve joy.
I’m going to share 5 tips that’ll help take you from exhausted to energised that include pleasure and don’t eliminate fun and joy
- Get your iron levels tested.
1.2 billion non pregnant women, 1.5 billion pregnant women. That’s how many, worldwide, the World Health Organisation say are affected by iron deficiency.
Studies have also shown that low iron levels may be one of the key contributing factors in fatigue in women. 1, 2
Your body stores iron but growing a human, birthing them, bleeding for 6 weeks afterwards and monthly menstruation depletes them. If you’re not filling these stores back up, your body will start giving you feedback.
If you’re knackered, cold all the time, struggling to concentrate and your hair is looking frazzled, ask your GP to check your iron levels – they won’t dismiss you or think you’re over reacting.
Food sources of iron to add to your plate are red meat, chicken, spinach, tofu, seeds. Vitamin C helps absorption while dairy and tannins inhibit it, so best have some red pepper instead of a cup of milky tea with your steak.
Always get professional advice on supplements as some have a tendency to bung you up. You don’t want to have to make a choice between being tired or being constipated.
- Now’s the time for nourishment not deprivation
If your car runs out of fuel, you take it to the petrol station and fill its tank up because it can’t run on fumes. Neither can you, no matter how hard you try.
One of the only ways to get more energy is through the calories you eat. Not just any calories, these are keeping you fuller for longer, nutrient dense, va va voom inducing calories.
Carbohydrates are usually the first to go, they’re the tantruming toddlers of the food world – misunderstood. They are your body’s and brain’s preferred energy source.
Refined carbs – white bread, pasta, croissants — are considered a dieting disaster as they release glucose (aka sugar) quickly, whereas unrefined carbs – sweet potato, apples, bananas, lentils — release the sugar slowly.
The carb encrusted key to your energy upgrade is to include a variety of carbs eaten alongside protein and fat. This is what’ll keep you off the energy rollercoaster that crashes mid-afternoon.
- Get to know the 3P’s of your bodily fluids
Did you keep a pee and poop diary for your tiny ones? It’s time to do the same for yourself.
The fluids that come out of your body are a detox pathway that give you a lot of information about your health.
They can tell you if you’re dehydrated, not eaten enough, if you’re ovulating, if oestrogen levels are low, if you’re not moving enough, if you need to chew your food more, if you’re nervous/excited, if you need help breaking down fats, if you’ve had enough fibre, if you’re stressed out…
The list goes on.
The 3P’s and what to look for are:
- Poop – Shape, consistency, frequency
- Pee – Colour, smell, frequency
- Period Blood – Colour, consistency, clots
The key thing is to know what’s normal for you. Get comfy checking, track them and look for patterns – for example, if you’re stressed out do you get bunged up quicker or if you eat avocadoes do things move a bit faster.
- Focus on quality of sleep instead of quantity
“If I go to sleep in the next 5 mins and he doesn’t wake up, then I’ll get 6 hours, 15 mins and 12 seconds sleep”. Anyone else do that? Instead of going to sleep, we get deep into an insta scroll comparing pink tiled utility rooms and wondering if everyone is doing a garden makeover apart from you.
Sleep training it is. For you, not for tiny human.
- Go to sleep at the same time every night, think 1030pm not midnight
- Tryptophan converts to melatonin, your sleep hormone. Oats, nuts, seeds, milk all contain tryptophan, have a snack or milk with these if hungry before bed
- No devices an hour before bed
- Brain dump into a journal
- Clear clutter from bedroom
- No caffeine after midday
- Have an orgasm
For tonight, let’s start with one thing, put your phone far enough away that if you wake up in the night and stretch your arms out, you can’t reach it.
- Keep it simple
30 different vegetables a week
An hour of exercise every day
10 minutes of mediation at 530am
2 litres of water a day
9 hours of uninterrupted sleep a night
Split your macros, count your peas, weigh your butter, lose the will
I could go on. It’s A LOT. Add some tiny humans into the mix and it’s no wonder you don’t know where to start or have the energy to find out.
Strip it back, way back……. further than that. Make it so small that you wonder if you’ve done anything.
Eat an extra portion of green vegetables
Meditate for 2 minutes
Drink one extra glass of water
Chase your toddler down the street
Go to bed 15 minutes earlier tonight
Read a page of your bonk buster before bed
Choose one of these and do it over and over again until it becomes a habit. It’s the small things we do repeatedly that build up to make a big difference
These 5 tips aren’t about supporting your health so that you can push yourself to your limits or be even more productive.
It’s about, giving yourself the same love, care and attention that you’re giving everyone else.
There’s never been a time when YOUR health needs the most love, care and attention than now.
Wilma is a nutritional therapist, mother, eBay enthusiast and founder of Maverick Motherhood where she’s on a mission to help exhausted mum’s upgrade their energy and inject vibrancy and va va voom into their lives. You can find her at maverickmotherhood.co and @_maverickmotherhood.
- Krayenbuehl PA, Battegay E, Breymann C, Furrer J, Schulthess G, Intravenous iron for the treatment of fatigue in nonanemic, premenopausal women with low serum ferritin concentration, Blood (2011) 118 (12): 3222–3227.
- F Verdon, B Burnand, C-L Fallab Stubi, C Bonard, M Graff, A Michaud, T Bischoff, M de Vevey, J-P Studer, L Herzig, C Chapuis, J Tissot, A Pécoud, B Favrat Iron supplementation for unexplained fatigue in non-anaemic women: double blind randomised placebo controlled trial 2003 May 24; 326(7399)