The Truth About #Beingmum

Today I want to drill down deep.  This is a blog I have wanted to write for a while, but just couldn’t find the right words.

You see, the truth about #beingmum, for me and maybe you too, is confronting.  It is everything that I expect of myself and cannot be: successful and mindful.

What do I mean by this?

Let’s start with “success”.  What I mean by this is the constant expectations we set and have for ourselves and what we achieve #beingmum and how in this way we often set the bar too high and end up feeling like we’re failing.

Here’s some examples:

  • There has to be a healthy dinner on the table every night
  • We have to think of a creative, educational, stimulating activity for our children to do every day
  • Our house has to be spotless
  • We are never going to yell or lose our temper
  • We are going to respond positively to our children’s every need

Because your mum.  Because that’s your job.  Because that is what is expected of you.  And ultimately it’s what you expect of yourself.

But is it always realistic?

I’m glad you asked.

My belief is no.  What I am finding as I coach different mums is this common factor of expecting way too much of ourselves in the time that is available to us, in the reality of the chaos that is #beingmum.

This inevitably leads to punishing feelings of guilt and failure and adds to the pressure we put on ourselves to do better.  It makes us stressed and feel overwhelmed.  It pushes our life out of balance, limits our happiness and can ultimately make us ill.

Now let’s talk about mindfulness.  The truth about #beingmum is that it is terribly hard to be mindful when you are a mum.  We are pulled in so many different directions that I reckon our brains actually rewire to always thinking about the next thing we have to get done, instead of enjoying being in the moment.

And the worrying thing is that a lack of mindfulness and constant pressure causes stress and mums are just as prone to stress related burnout as any other woman.  The 4 walls of our homes and the arms of our loving families do not protect us from the mental health issues that are now prolific in our society.  The difference is that mum can’t “fall” and so the burnout manifests in different ways – a functioning exterior that covers a depression, low self-esteem, disconnection from partner and friends, or just a daily living hell as you fail to cope and feel constant guilt and anxiety, but you maintain a smile for those around you.

Why am I writing about this?

Because I want to help you. I’ve been stressed, I’ve been anxious and I’ve definitely been overwhelmed more times than I’d like to admit, but through these experiences I found a way out to the other side…

I believe life is beautiful (2)

And here’s the thing: Everything that pulls our attention in many directions, many of the things that challenge us and the even some of the things that cause us stress are normal parts of daily life #beingmum.

So we need to find a way for the pressures of #beingmum to exist in non-harmful ways and work on being more mindful.

How can we do this?

newproject_1_original-1

1. Notice More

When you have a moment, instead of thinking or scrolling your phone, notice what’s around you. Enjoy the soft fluffiness of the clouds, study the smile in your child’s eyes, see the colour in the trees around you. Take the Zen Mum Challenge to learn an easy, useful mindfulness activity that you can practice every day

2. Commit Less

Can you really do all the things you’ve said you’ll do in one day (without ending up exhausted?) A good test is to see if you’ll have at least one 2-hour block somewhere between 9 and 5 without doing something. If you haven’t, you’ve over-committed. (There’s method in my madness – check out one of my Time Management workshops if you don’t believe me).

3. Look Within

When we manifest our deepest intentions, we stop falling out of the moment because we’re not ruminating over the next decision/action. The result is a satisfying and fulfilling life that we want to be present in and self-insight that helps us get clarity of what our expectations of ourself should be and focus on how to achieve them.

4. Just Be

Say you did get that 2 hour block with nothing in it; the housework is done, the children’s cups are filled with touch, love and attention and you don’t need to check your emails because you’re on top of the work to do list, could you just be?

Try it. Turn the phone off, have no agenda and just go with the flow. Say yes to the children, sit and play/read/cuddle. Be fully present in whatever you do for that 2 hour block. Each time you feel obligated to do something else, put it out of your mind, breathe and smile. Be proud of being in the moment.

To support these actions, try my Roll Easy Rollerball System. As you know, I recommend essential oils to support the work we do in coaching.

These rollerballs are a natural way to support mindfulness, calm and peace.  Check out how they work here.

They are formulated with doTERRA’s certified pure therapeutic grade essential oils, so contain no fillers, preservatives or other synthetic chemicals that are often used in essential oils used for flavoring and perfume. They have a strong therapeutic response and are even tested to be free of heavy metals, herbicides and insecticides. So you can be confident that what you roll onto your skin is completely natural.

(To see my Roll Easy System on Facebook, click here.)

I am about to launch my signature coaching experience, Design Your Life, if you’d like more information, please give me your details here.

I know you are thinking of a heap of reasons now why you don’t need to design your life, but I want you to ask yourself the question, if this blog has resonated with you, how close are you going to get to burn out or real unhappiness before you start making changes in your life?

I’m one of the unfortunate who has fallen over the edge and boy have I paid the price in the long-term.  The damage that chronic stress does to your body runs deep. For example,  I’m now the not so proud owner of adrenal fatigue, which has challenged many areas of my health. Thank goodness for my essential oils that are supporting my recovery in a big way!

So, I’ll leave it here and hope to hear from you soon…

Much love X X

Essential Mum

My Weight Loss Story

Written 3/04/2016

“12 weeks ago I was pretty bewildered as to how to get my body back in shape and my eating back on track after pregnancy.  I was 3 weeks post-partum, unmotivated and recovering from surgery after a third degree tear having my baby.  I had planned to get straight back into my Muay Thai kickboxing training to get my fitness back and work my way back to the ring, but my surgery had obstructed that idea, as I was very limited in my movement!  I felt quite depressed!

From a food point of view, having suffered awful morning sickness when I was pregnant I had gotten into bad habits. I had craved and eaten lots of simple carbs and sugar because for some weird reason it was all my body was asking for.  I had gone off salads, the idea of fish made me want to vomit. In fact all the things I had loved pre-pregnancy turned me green!  A very weird experience, which over 9 months had concreted some awful habits. I am pleased to say I have turned those around now!

My portion sizes follow TERRAfit’s guidelines and I’m satisfied and my snacking is nutritious and energy-boosting.  Instead of reaching for those simple carbs and sugar I am now completely refined-sugar free and craving smoothies and veggie sticks and taking time to plan my snacks, like yummy refined sugar free slices, bliss balls, muffins and biscuits, so that they are on hand during the week.  This has been good for my daughter also, who is also back to eating refined sugar free!  I am eating heaps of veg, when at the start of the challenge I was struggling to get one portion in, let alone 4!  I feel more energised and happier.

One of the big discoveries I made through the challenge was that I really needed to work on my emotions (which were driving some of my eating choices) and I have done this – by using my essential oils, trying to react in different ways and trying to remove the stresses that were rattling my emotions  in the first place and dedicating some time every day to me.

I have got up 5-6 days a week at 5am to do my workouts because I know this is the only time that I will have my hands free from my 16 week old and put my heart and soul into the TERRAfit workouts.  I have got up even when I have been tired and taken a NO EXCUSES attitude!  Regarding my goals, I have lost 7.5 pounds, which I am really pleased about, but I am more excited about the improvements in my strength and fitness!  I set myself this mad challenge along with one of myTERRAfit teammates to achieve a 5-minute plank and I achieved it!  I could only do 30 seconds at the start of my challenge!  I am now doing 38 pushups (up from 20 at the start of my challenge), 56 air squats (up from 38 at the start of my challenge), 82 sit ups (up from 63 at the start of my challenge) and a 2 minute 35 wall sit (also up from 30 seconds at the start of my challenge!!!)  My main goal was to be able to go back to my Muay Thai training and in the first week of month 3 I achieved it!  I am back doing my Muay Thai training once a week.  And I even have my eye on fighting again!

I really feel like a better version of me as my 12-week challenge comes a close. I am lighter, physically and mentally, full of energy and strong.  I am also in the good habit of getting up each morning to exercise and it’s not a chore at all!  My motivation is back!  And I have discovered an amazing way to eat, which nourishes my body in the way it needs.  I have learned so much in 12 weeks!  About clean foods, super foods, what foods work in what way for your body and I know which are the sensible choices!  My promise to myself as I close this challenge is to never take my new-found good health for granted and take what I have learned over the last 12 weeks and make it my permanent lifestyle and continue to share it with others! I am going on to do the 3-week Sprint tomorrow, just to spend time establishing the things that work for me, as I found I didn’t fully understand them until the 3rd month.   My focus for the next 3 weeks is not weight loss now, but muscle gain!  I want to be able to do the month 3 workouts with extra resistance (especially increasing my shoulder and tricep strength) and up the interval training from 30 seconds to 1 minute!

I think that is the final thing I want to say about TERRAfit and I say it with a smile!  In such a strong team of beautiful people with a coach dedicated to your progress you never stop inspiring and you never stop being inspired!”

I am suffering from adrenal fatigue.  It is something that has plagued me for a few years, which I can’t seem to fully recover from.  It is estimated to affect around 80 percent of people in the world and yet some doctors refuse to believe it exists.  The term ‘adrenal fatigue’  was coined in 1998 by a naturopath called Dr. Wilson, who wanted to distinguish between below optimal adrenal function resulting from stress and adrenal insufficiency caused by Addison’s disease and excess cortisol caused by Cushing’s Syndrome.  He wrote what is now a very celebrated book called Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome and described a condition that he had observed after years of working with stressed-out patients in the 1980s and 1990s.

Dr Nerina Ramlakhan, a neurophysiologist at the private Nightingale Hospital for mental health issues in London and the author of Tired But Wired, has seen a 50 per cent increase in clients showing early signs of adrenal fatigue. “Ten years ago, about two people in a room of 30 would put their hands up. Now a fifth of my clients show signs.”

She describes the key early sign as digestion problems, “as stress takes blood and energy away from the large organs such as the intestine and diverts it to the muscles to prepare for ‘fight or flight’ during stressful situations”. This is a natural response, she explains, but it’s meant to be over quickly so the body can recover. “Today, most people live permanently in this ‘fight or flight’ state, constantly releasing stress hormones and never letting themselves recover.”

I believe my problems started way back in 2009 when I was suffering prolonged, chronic stress; the culmination of which ultimately led me to fall completely over, mentally and physically in 2010 and from that day forward I had to rebuild my life.  What we call a complete burnout, I guess.  Turns out my adrenal glands – two walnut-sized glands that sit just above my kidneys – also burnt out.  It is only recent studies that are corroborating this fact.  A 2013 study, published in the International Journal of Occupational Medicine and Environmental Health, reported that those with burnout were found to have lower levels of cortisol because their relentlessly stressed-out adrenal glands had lost the ability to produce it.

The World Health Organisation recognised adrenal fatigue as a disorder in 2010.

Unsurprisingly, fatigue is one of the most common Adrenal Fatigue symptoms, but there are many other different ways it can present, both physical and mental, and people can present different “packages” of symptoms as well.

After my burnout I found it almost impossible to get out of bed in the morning and I spent most of my day feeling awful and fatigued.  I was also getting constantly sick.  I now know that consistently high levels of cortisol,  which present in the early stages of adrenal fatigue, suppress your immune response and leave you vulnerable to infection. I am now in a much later stage of Adrenal Fatigue, which presents as consistently low levels of cortisol.  This has an array of symptoms, including causing me to have really low blood sugar in the morning, which now does the opposite to before and wakes me up at sparrows because I feel so hungry!

My doctor explained to me that basically my adrenals have become unable to produce enough of the hormones I need, so my cortisol is low, along with neurotransmitters like adrenaline and norepinephrine.  This causes me to have constantly low blood pressure that makes me feel dizzy when I stand up (my midwife commented that if her BP was as low as mine was she’d be dead), decreased enjoyment in life sometimes and a low libido, my memory is foggy and my fuse is dangerously short and I use coffee just to keep going.  I also have other weird symptoms that I can only link to my adrenal fatigue because they are there when my cortisol is at its lowest:  weird dry skin around my finger nails, pain in my lower back, extreme tiredness an hour after I exercise, a constant need to pee and possibly the weirdest is a kind of numbness in my fingers that causes me to have a terrible grip, making me drop things I grasp for.

One of the most upsetting symptoms for me though, due to these hormone imbalances and especially because I am a mum, is the short fuse and my complete inability to handle stress; much more so than the low energy levels throughout the day that I cope with, even though on some days I feel a completely unrelenting tiredness.

It’s bad.  My life is busy and stress is unavoidable.  I have a nearly 3 year old who could contend for an Oscar for the drama she finds in most every day situations and I am working too and juggling that with her and my 3 month old.  For people not affected by adrenal insufficiency, when stress inevitably happens the adrenals release hormones like cortisol, adrenaline and norepinephrine. These hormones regulate the stress response and increase strength, focus and awareness. What happens to me is more like something out of a horror movie.  I lose it, I shout, I get anxious and then most often I feel deeply depressed about how I have reacted because my loved ones bear the brunt of it.  I used to see these emotions as my enemies and hide from them, dismiss them and pretend they never happened.  I have stopped doing that now in favour of a better way, which I will talk about in a minute, and I have committed to replenishing my adrenal energy, which has already made a massive difference to how I feel each day.

The first thing I did was remove hard-to-digest foods from my diet and toxins/chemicals from my environment.  As you’ll see if you follow Essential Mum I do really well with this latter thing!!  The diet took a bit of a hammering during my pregnancy though, where I slipped back into some really bad habits.  So in January I began doTERRA’s TERRAfit programme and it’s really helped me to get back on track with eating regular, healthy meals, especially nutrient-dense, refined sugar free foods packed with healthy fat, fibre, good quality proteins and as many organic mineral rich vegetables as possible, which is going to help me overcome this adrenal insufficiency.  I have also started using a magnesium spray every day and added himalayan salt to my diet (it has a LOT more minerals than table salt that benefit adrenal glands.)  TERRAfit also provides me with a comprehensive, effective exercise programme, although I have to be careful not to cause more adrenal fatigue by exercising too vigorously.

I am also trying to minimize stress.  Another really amazing thing about TERRAfit is that it motivates you to look at your health from the inside out and work on much more than weight loss.  I have taken time to focus on the things that make me feel stressed and how I can eliminate or minimise them and I have invested in me by identifying where I can dedicate some time every day to self care.  I am not going to deny that I still feel completely overwhelmed some days.  Luckily, I am one of these people whose default is to act like the completely opposite is true when someone asks “how are you”… cue big smile and the word “GREAT!” 😉  Luckily, this is also a journey in progress.

A big part of my journey has been the use of my essential oils.  There are a few that can help with Adrenal Fatigue, that I won’t list here, but instead share what is working for me.  I am using a healing combination of Serenity, Balance and Frankincense to de-stress and calm my nervous system, Wild Orange to stop anxiety in its tracks and perk me up in the afternoons, Bergamot when I feel down and for general immune support, adrenal support and to reduce feelings of stress, anxiety and burnout, Slim & Sassy to regulate my blood sugar and finally, geranium for immune support and as a general overall tonic for stress, anxiety and mild depression.

There are 3 ways you can apply essential oils and timing/location is important.  For example, Frankincense is one I am now using every day.  It increases my ability to focus and grounds me.  I use it every day in the morning.  Serenity helps me sleep, so I use it every evening.

I make Geranium part of my beauty regime.  I use it as a moisturiser mixed with fractionated coconut oils and I rub it over my kidneys, which is where your adrenals are located.

On those days where I do feel completely exhausted I add in Rosemary to my routine.  It is a good strengthening tonic for the whole body.

If you are interested in learning more about how to use essential oils for emotions I am running a course this Thursday night, March 17th, in Bucklands Beach, Auckland, where I will talk in detail about  how to master your emotions using essential oils and we will make your very own action plan to integrate them and other emotional support and therapies, in order to increase your capacity to enjoy life, cope with stress, and focus on important personal priorities.

If you too are suffering from adrenal fatigue there are 10 things that you can do straight away to begin your healing journey, and in my opinion they are things we should do anyway for wellness!

  1. woman sleeping peacefully in bed, alarm clockRest when you feel tired; don’t try and be superman/woman and push through!
  2. Sleep between 8–10 hours a night
  3. Avoid staying up late and stay on a regular sleep cycle — ideally, in bed before 10 p.m
  4. Laugh and do something fun every day
  5. Minimize stress
  6. Eat on a regular food cycle, and reduce your caffeine and sugar addiction
  7. Exercise (even moderate exercise and walking can help)
  8. Avoid negative people and negative self-talk
  9. Take time for yourself (do something relaxing) every day
  10. Seek counsel or support for any traumatic experiences

Numbers 4, 8 and 9 are 3 things we will look at in the Emotions Course!  Thankfully, our bodies are made to heal, but the words we say and the things we do, especially in reaction to stress have a great impact on our body and its ability to heal. Before I said that I used to see my emotions as my enemies and hide from them, dismiss them and pretend they never happen.  Now I acknowledge them and I am kind to myself.  I assess why I reacted the way I did (both the situation that was causing the stress and my emotional state at the time), how I could have reacted differently, how I can react better next time and how I can minimise the stress that caused the reaction in the first place.  This isn’t causing change overnight!  This is a long journey and I am changing habits and healing damage that has taken years to create. So, I am being kind to myself. I am ridding my mind of negative thoughts and choosing to be around positive people and stay positive about myself as well.  And heck, sometimes now I am even able to laugh about those reactions, especially with the help of my little girl!  She really is a little too wise for her own good sometimes.  Her acknowledgement of my reactions, while horrible that she does see this other side of mummy, is a good thing because she is helping me to change me and be a better person and we laugh together.  And as we laugh and have a hug I feel the stress decrease and my whole body relax!  Don’t underestimate the value of laughter and enjoyment as a recuperative tool.

Click here to learn about buying 100% pure, therapeutic essential oils and why I recommend them.

To register for the Emotions course, visit Eventbrite here.  Click into the Facebook event page and select “interested” to learn more about the course and receive updates and offers.

Much love x x