Ask any mum whose needs she puts first – her own or her family’s – and you’re likely to hear the latter. But according to Australian fitness and wellness expert, Rosemary Marchese, mums should put their health first.
It’s a controversial claim that will have many of us mums rethinking our whole being, but Rosemary, who is also the author of The Fit Busy Mum; Seven habits for success, has a pretty convincing argument. “Who should you put the oxygen mask on first on a plane? You or your child?” asks Rosemary. “We would be absolutely useless to our child if we fell unconscious. The same goes with our health. When mums put their health first they are indirectly helping their entire family.”
Rosemary says that by putting your health first, you are making sure you are healthy enough to look after the family and live a long life to be there for them. “Plus, it’s a great example to show your kids,” she says. “Your kids will want you around for a long time, not just when they are young. Plan to be there and look after your health!” Here, Rosemary explains how putting your health first can actually benefit your family. So there’s no guilt attached!
Good Sleep Will Make You More Efficient Through the Day
Yep, we know that a sound eight hours – or more if you’re like me – can help clarity and productivity the following day, but what about those work emails, the washing and dusting…? Prioritise.
“Lack of sleep does nothing positive for your energy during the day,” explains Rosemary. “Getting enough shut-eye (at least when you can!) is going to make you more efficient during the day. You think more clearly and will be better able to stay focused on your tasks. The less sleep you get the more frazzled you become and it will take you longer to get stuff done. Trust me. I’ve done it!”
Nutritious Meals Give You Energy
Mums are martyrs. Who hasn’t skipped a meal because ‘we’re too busy to sit down and eat’, but fed everyone else in the house?
“I see so many mums not give a second thought to what they eat during the day,” explains Rosemary. “Sure, they may focus on getting a healthy meal on the table at dinner time but what about their own health during the day? I see a lot of mums who are probably not eating enough! They are confused as to what is healthy and what is not and are sometimes surprised to see me stop and eat lunch.”
“Breakfast and lunch are easy meals for mums to skip or choose spontaneously. If the food choice is not that healthy then it’s sure to lead to an afternoon slump. It’s a guarantee if you skip a meal altogether. Your body needs so many nutrients through a wide variety of healthy foods. Every time you skip a meal or choose unhealthy over healthy you are losing a chance to fuel your body with energy. You are also wearing your body down which increases your likelihood of getting sick as well as developing chronic diseases such as Type 2 Diabetes, cancer and heart disease.”
As for breakfast… some say it’s the most important meal of the day. “While I like to think that all meals are important, breakfast can play a huge part in keeping your body healthy,” explains Rosemary. “You are giving your body the fuel it needs for you to kick butt the rest of the day. You wouldn’t try to start your car without petrol would you?”
Exercise Makes You Fit & Healthy
Motherhood is wonderful but let’s face it, it’s exhausting sometimes too. “I hear a lot of mums say ‘I can’t be stuffed’, and I get that, but exercise can definitely give you more vitality,” says Rosemary. “Maintaining a fit and healthy body (and I mean fit for life, not necessarily fit for the Olympics), can make you a better mum. Exercise releases ‘happy hormones’ known as endorphins, which can set your vibrant mood for the rest of the day. Being fit can also make you better prepared to cope with a busy life. You’ll be less sluggish and generally have more vitality and get sick less often.”
Positive Body Image Sets The Foundations For Your Kids
“Let’s talk body image for a second,” says Rosemary. “What message are you sending your kids if you are unfit and not fuelling your body with healthy foods? Why would they bother? Being fit, healthy and strong is better than ‘skinny’. I’m a little sick of hearing about these ongoing quests for the ‘bikini body’, as if there is some sort of pre-requisite to put on a bikini. Put on a bikini whenever you want to. Don’t if you don’t want to. Having the so-called ‘bikini body’ tells you nothing about your health and your risk for disease down the track. In fact, being too skinny can be just as risky to your health as being overweight or even obese. I’m not encouraging being overweight or obese, but I would love to see more mums focus on fitness for their health, rather than the weight on the scales. Focus on what your body can do so that you can set a wonderful and positive body image to your kids. That’s a gift that’s priceless.”
ABOUT: Rosemary Marchese is fitness and wellness expert (B.A. Applied Sci – Physiotherapist), founder of The Fit Busy Mum, mum to three children and author of ‘The Fit Busy Mum; Seven habits for success’, $29.95. The Fit Busy Mum provides easy to follow inspiration that helps readers identify opportunities and habits that can put them on the path to success in all areas of life. Available from all good book stores.