Powerful Parents, Routine, SLEEP, U Time

NEW YEAR OLD YOU?

Okay its cliché New Year New YOU right?

Wrong … this year there’s going to be a difference …  it’s the old YOU we want back. Flat belly, super sexy, slim, confident, and stress-free, you remember how it used to be pre -baby (well pre -motherhood really, most of us mum’s are past the baby phase and with teenagers in toe we still blame the baby weight for not feeling great.)

Well 2020 marks a new decade, it’s a big milestone so it’s time for big changes!

FRESH START

January, we turn to resolutions to make changes in our lives, and the number one for most mums is to lose weight or eat healthier. 

But usually by February, that all falls by the wayside as motivation wanes and our old habits return to comfortably seduce us back to the familiar foods we know and love. 

As a Mum and nutritional therapist, myself, I know how all too easy it is to do. I may want to change but my family may not, and staying strong and encouraging them can be a difficult task when I’m also craving certain foods and drink. 

Most of us know that we should exercise, eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day and get a good night’s sleep, its common sense, but how many of us actually do that every day? 

And if we don’t, how can we make our kids? 

Just knowing what to do, doesn’t make it automatically happen. 

As Voltaire’s dictum goes; 

 ‘That common sense is not so common’ 

We know what we should be doing to help ourselves as well as our children but often we just don’t know how or where to start? 

As our childrens most influential role model starting with ourselves is key, and here are 7 tips to get you started in 2020. 

1. No plan is a plan to fail – Snacking and eating at irregular times of the day stimulates weight gain. A good regular mealtime routine just like the one you would provide for your child as part of the U URSELF Routine is just as important for you as it is for your child. So, plan ahead, decide a menu of meals in advance and write a list of ingredients before you shop, this means you’re more likely to stick to the plan. Preparing meals in advance and batch cooking with a few key ingredients helps too, as well as taking your own packed lunch to work. Stocking your kitchen with healthy snack options and discarding unhealthy options is advisable, when we are starving it’s easy to reach for a quick fix in sugar or salt. You can’t rely on will power in those moments of weakness so best not to put temptation in front of you. To boost your motivation, keep a journal of everything you eat and drink either buy a nice notebook or use an app on your phone, there are some really good free ones where you can scan bar codes on food to keep track of every calorie or oz of fat. This can be a real eyeopener. I use MyNetDiary https://www.mynetdiary.com/ on my iPhone s its free, quick and easy!

Research has proven that those who write their goals down meaningfully increase their chances of success in achieving those goals by 30% and keeping track as in using the above app and measuring your progress along the way helps you to increase your chances of success by a whopping 60%!!!!

Reviewing your goals is a must, it keeps you motivated, on track and shows you what changes need to be made and helps you to see your progress. You can’t conveniently forget when you record what you are eating and drinking. Being honest with yourself is essential to maintaining or losing weight.

2. Meal monotony – Eat the same meals, boring I know but that’s the secret to eating less, your taste buds are less likely to overeat when you’re full, if what’s on offer is a boring plate of food they are used to, and this will stop you over eating. Plan meals in advance and shop online for the ingredients, this way you won’t be tempted to buy the foods you don’t want or need, saving you money as well as calories, opt for soup, salads, fish pulses and drink plenty of water. You may not like fish or salad for example, but love chicken and vegetables and that’s okay, just eat lots of veg instead. It’s important to find those foods that you do like, not to eat things because you think they’ll help you to lose weight. Don’t deny or forbid yourself- this is important because the reason diets don’t work long-term is because we can’t deny or deprive ourselves forever and why should we?

The key to permanent weight loss is finding a healthy lifestyle that you can enjoy and live with forever, not until you reach your weight loss goal. 

3. EAT MORE- for most of us it’s not how much we eat that causes us weight gain it’s what we are eating. Ironically another key to losing weight is to fill up, when we are hungry, we make unhealthy choices. Bulking up on healthy, nutritious food prevents us feeling ravenous.

Foods that are filling are those that weigh more, have larger volume and a higher water content (more on this later under Water). Fruits and fibre, beans, lentils, quinoa, oats and barley absorb water and are high in fibre. Water and fibre add bulk making you feel fuller for longer and the good news is, water and fibre have zero calories. To lose weight we need to choose more slow carbs too, these are known as low glycaemic foods or low GI foods, these make you feel full for longer as they keep your blood sugar even, preventing cravings, regulating your appetite and helping you to last longer between meals so you are less inclined to snack. These are what we call ‘good carbs. A low GI meal inhibits a spike in insulin, promoting satiety and rate of weight loss. You can find some low GI Recipes here https://www.gisymbol.com/low-gi-everyday-meal-plan/

You will consume more volume and weight without feeling hungry by adopting a low-density diet.

4. RESISTANCE EXERCISE- Now I need no excuse to resist exercise, this is something that comes naturally to me, in fact out of all the possible addictions in this world I could have, exercise is probably one of the only ones I don’t have!!!

But I’m only joking, when talking about resistance exercise I’m referring to muscle strengthening. We need to work our arms, shoulders, legs, hips, back, chest and abdomen at least twice a week to be of any benefit, using heavy weights to lift or using our body weight such as push or sit ups, or using resistance bands, if you’re a scaffolder or do manual work you’re ahead of the game. Also, if you do any sporting activities regularly such as rugby or gymnastics. But you do need to push yourself when strengthening those muscles to the point where you feel you can’t possible do one more lift of crunch. But this muscle building needs to be done gradually so you progress over time and eventually 15 repetitions turn into 50, as your strength and stamina increase. This is important as we age as resistance exercises can help to prevent brittle bones, and increasing your muscle mass helps you to burn more calories, so the more muscle the better. If you are reducing your calorie intake you will lose muscle as well as fat however, when including muscle strengthening exercises you keep hold of more muscle and end up losing more fat. It also accelerates your metabolism which means that you continue to burn calories hours later following exercise, according to Melby et al., 1993 your BMR is elevated for up to 15 hours after exercise, due to the oxidation of body fat, and it increases the effectiveness of your nutrient uptake in your muscles reducing insulin-related fat storage.

Seems there are no better reasons to use weight resistance training to burn fat and build muscle – this doesn’t mean though, you have to go to the gym lifting heavy weights, as a parent especially of younger children you probably won’t have time or a babysitter to allow for this, but don’t worry, all you need is a couple of hand weights or a resistant leg exerciser that can fold away, or some stretchy bands, and if you only have ten minutes a day that’s all you need to feel and see the positive changes that can occur over time, with consistent use. Excuse me while I convert my clothes horse back to the weights bench I bought one January, aeons ago….

5. SOBRIETY

Anyone who knows me will know I love a drink, but I know that although alcohol is socially acceptable and even associated with good times and celebrations, it’s still a neurotoxic, psychoactive drug that depresses the central nervous system. That’s why the government offer guidelines for how many units we should drink a week, but who pays attention or really knows what they are? Well in the UK it’s no more than 14 units per week for both genders last time I checked https://www.drinkaware.co.uk/alcohol-facts/alcoholic-drinks-units/latest-uk-alcohol-unit-guidance/

Still means little to me, after a few I’ve lost count of how many glasses of wine I’ve drunk let alone units per glass. But if we are counting calories shockingly, for anyone trying to lose weight, there’s approximately 500 calories in a bottle of wine!

Add to that the fact alcohol makes us feel hungry and crave unhealthy food types, then its best to stay away completely if we want to be slim and trim in 2020. But I’m no party pooper, if you socialise there’s great alcoholic beverage alternatives these days or low alcoholic ones.

Low alcoholic drinks are poised for big business in 2020 but I don’t particularly like the taste of them, in fact, most of us drink for the buzz not the flavour we get from booze, so many of us will be better off with a normal soft drink. My favourite is flavoured, fizzy water, it still feels like a treat compared to the plain still water I drink all day, as it’s got the sweet fizz to fool my brain into thinking I’m having a reward. This is important as having rewards is vital to changing our habits. Some of us may not be motivated by rewards so we may want to focus on avoiding a negative consequence instead, such as a hangover.  As we age, we do tend to suffer more with hangovers as our bodies struggle to metabolise alcohol, and we fight intoxication and dehydration, then as soon as our liver has had enough, we get a headache.

6. WATER – THE ELIXIR OF LIFE

That’s when our faithful sober friend, water helps, by drinking buckets of the stuff, we dilute that alcohol and relieve that banging head.

Our bodies are around 60% to 70% water in weight a day. Some of us can be carrying an extra 10 to 15 pounds of excess water daily, which has become trapped in our tissues.

This excess water causes abdominal bloating, face & eye puffiness and cellulite, and it can be caused from many things such as;

• Food sensitivities

• Nutrient & antioxidant deficiencies

• Medication

• Hormones i.e. menstrual cycle

• Not enough protein

• Not enough WATER!!!

Yes, ironically not drinking enough water can actually cause water retention.

WHY WATER?

Our kidneys need water to flush toxins and waste from our bodies, but when water reserves are low i.e., we haven’t drunk enough water, our kidneys end up storing water.

On top of that, not enough water and our lymphatic system slows down too.

When this happens and our bodies can no longer carry waste away, that waste then accumulates in fat cells leading to cellulite, particularly in women.

And what better reason do we need to increase our water intake, than the fact that it suppresses our appetites, and naturally helps our bodies to metabolise stored fat?

As an added bonus drinking enough water gives us clearer complexions. After only 5 days of not drinking any alcohol and increasing my water intake someone commented to me this week, on how good my skin and complexion looked.

And of course, when we are drinking plenty of water then we are not drinking too much caffeine, fizzy drinks and fruit juices. All of which cause us to gain weight and increase our daily calorie intake considerably.

WEIGHING ALL THIS UP

Our weight changes due to our hydration levels.

Make sure you weigh yourself at approximately the same time of day, with similar hydration levels


Therefore, if you do weigh yourself regularly, for accuracy make sure you weigh yourself at approximately the same time of day, with similar hydration levels. For more in-depth readings you can also buy Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis [BIA] scales, because these can measure your body fat percentage and hydration levels.

HOW MUCH WATER DO WE NEED?

Water is essential for survival.

We can live without most things but not water.

It maximises our muscle functions, rids our bodies of excess water, and increases our metabolism. But to do all that efficiently we need to drink about two litres [or eight glasses of water] a day, for our bodies to function properly.

On top of that, in hot weather we should all be drinking more than the recommended daily amounts.

And did you know that if you are overweight, you will need an extra glass for every twenty pounds of excess weight you carry?

HOW CAN WE INCREASE OUR WATER CONSUMPTION IN ORDER TO LOSE WEIGHT?

– TOP TIP 1

Get into the habit of always carrying a bottle of water with you wherever you go!

– TOP TIP 2

ADD WATER TO MEALS

To help with weight loss, drink plenty of water prior to and during meals.

Also, drink your daily calories in vegetable soups, because soups fill up our stomachs more and for longer.

Research has also shown that low energy density foods- that is foods that have a high-water content such as stews and soups, and foods such as salads and fruits that are naturally high in water; reduce appetite and make us eat less high calorie foods.

So, we need to increase our intake of water rich foods, as well as foods that absorb water during cooking, such as rice and pasta, if we want to lose weight without feeling hungry.

WATER THE ELIXIR OF WEIGHT LOSS

So, there you have it, weight gain can be attributed to water retention, and paradoxically water can be the answer to weight loss.

So, in either case drink up if you’re trying to lose weight!

This was my actual fridge when on that weight loss journey a few years ago. No room for food, that’s why I must have dropped those 2 dress sizes so quickly????

7. SLEEP- We are all different and the amount of sleep each one of us needs will vary, some will bounce out of bed after 6 hours of sleep, others need 9 hours to feel refreshed. Quality and quantity of sleep is important. As parents though both of these are usually in short supply. Getting our children into a good bedtime sleeping routine early on is best as that will give us the time we need to relax, unwind and eventually get a good night’s sleep ourselves.

PARENTS NEED SLEEP MORE THAN ANYTHING OR ANYONE ELSE

What can be worse than a tired child?

A tired parent and child of course!

Lack of sleep is not only detrimental to children, it’s also detrimental to our own mental state. If we can sleep soundly, undisturbed, and comfortable for around seven hours a night, we will be in a better position to deal with our children the next day.

But if we scrape by on a couple of broken hours here or there, we are likely to find ourselves overreacting on Auto Pilot Parenting Mode.

Everybody experiences times when they can’t sleep at night, but if its ongoing with no apparent cause, and it isn’t to do with physical factors such as temperature or something we can identify with such as pain, then we need to be proactive and find out what the cause is.

Being a parent is exhausting enough when we can sleep, let alone when we can’t.

Our children can seem more challenging at those times when we are tired, and their unwanted behaviour can seem worse than it actually is.

Although their behaviour is actually worse when they don’t get enough sleep. This is because the amygdala, the emotional part of the brain, is more active when a parent or child is sleep deprived. This explains why a tired child is usually very emotional for no reason and parents are angry, impatient, and frustrated more.

Together, a sleep deprived parent and child is an emotional disaster.

SLEEP DEPRIVATION

Lack of sleep can be detrimental to overall health and wellbeing, none of us should be deprived of the basic necessity to sleep.

Lack of sleep is also accumulative, and its much harder to catch up on missed sleep than you may think.

That’s why we have to catch up on sleep whenever we can.

Even if this means a nap in the day to make up for lost sleep at night.  Parents sometimes avoid their children taking daytime naps, fearing they won’t sleep as long at night, but the reverse is actually true.

Sleep deprived children have the worst sleeping habits, and those who nap in the day, actually sleep better at night. Children who need, but do not take a nap in the day, become overtired.

Once irritable, they find it difficult getting off to sleep or staying asleep throughout the night.  This results in further irritability and oversensitivity the next day, causing challenging behaviour which can then lead to hyperactivity, especially at bedtime when they should be tired.

As children get older, days get longer, and nights shorter, then, more than ever, they need to rest from all the stimulation and digest the information and experiences from the day. We need to allow them the freedom to sleep whenever they feel the need to, not just when we want them or don’t want them to. This way, they will sleep more soundly at night.

If their mind and body is telling them to sleep, no matter what their age, from five weeks to fifteen years, then they need it.

  • How do you feel when you do not get your nightly quota of sleep?
  • Do you ever feel so tired you struggle to get through the next day, only to go to bed that night unable to go to sleep?

Children do too! They get overtired and stimulated, resulting in unhealthy sleeping patterns. The only solution is for them to sleep whenever they can, to restore the balance and improve their sleeping habits.

  • Think about a time when your child kept you awake all night for whatever reason. Then imagine how they must have felt and how tired they must have been the next day, probably ten times worse than you, I bet.

They do not understand why either we or they themselves are irritable, annoyed, upset, and emotional when tired. This becomes a sleep deprived combo not to be crossed.

To check out subjectively whether or not you’re getting enough sleep take a look at The Epworth Sleepiness Scale  https://epworthsleepinessscale.com/about-the-ess/

We need sleep to normalise hormones: melatonin and cortisol. Cortisol regulates our immune systems, metabolism, blood sugar and stress response any lack of sleep will instantly impact your cortisol levels. Melatonin regulates our sleep-wake cycle and is needed to regulate metabolism, the immune system, reproduction and co-ordination. Not having a regular sleeping routine or working nights or shifts, change these hormones. If trying to lose weight sleep deprivation won’t help, research shows when you sleep less you eat and drink more calories and if you are fighting to stay awake, you are probably going to turn to high sugar and high fat foods and drinks.

I can think of no better time to renew my mattress, bed clothes and most importantly my pillows, than a new decade. We spend a whopping 26 hours asleep in our beds in our lifetime according to a Dreams online article by Gemma Curtis https://www.dreams.co.uk/sleep-matters-club/your-life-in-numbers-infographic/

Unfortunately, for many of us we spend that tossing and turning. Comfort is crucial for this heavenly retreat we call bed, so investing in this is a true investment in our health and wellbeing. Satin sheets are great anti-aging, skin creasing fabric for looking younger, longer and also for cheeky sensual early nights with a loved one, but for comfort, cotton in the highest thread count that you can afford is the best chance of a soothing, peaceful deep sleep.

It’s also advisable to get into a regular sleep cycle by going to be bed and waking up the same time each day, including weekends (forget those lazy Sunday lie ins…ooops I forgot we don’t get those anyway we are parents!)

And don’t eat big meals where you are stuffed, or drink alcohol for at least 2 hours before bed. Poor nutrition can also cause chronic fatigue, so avoiding sugar and stimulants such as alcohol, coffee, tea and chocolate is recommended along with including more vitamin C into your diet and eating healthy antioxidant-rich foods.

Keeping your bedroom around 16°C to 18°C degrees is the best temperature for encouraging a good night’s sleep too.

So, whether its a fresh start you’re after or finding the old You that you know and love, I wish you a happy, healthy, fun, sprinkled with sleep, Mumilicious 2020!

Your Time is the Present, Enjoy the Gift,

Em x

Photos thanks to:  Denise Karis on Unsplash

Photo by Natasha Spencer on Unsplash

Photo by i yunmai on Unsplash

Photo by Simon Matzinger on Unsplash

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SLEEP, The U URSELF Routine

The Sun Has Got His Hat On- My Child Won’t Sleep, No Way!

Summers on its way, Yay!

But when the Sun has his hat on, then the children want to play!

For many parents of young children, this means sleepless or late nights, and early mornings.

ITS NOT FAIR

I remember my own two little ones complaining at bedtime, about the children playing outside in the street, younger than them.

And questioning me why they had to go to bed, while the sun is still shining?

Often using guilt as their preferred tool of triumph, protesting;

‘I don’t want to go to bed, it’s not fair, the sun is still out.’


I remember my own two little ones complaining at bedtime, about the children playing outside in the street, younger than them.

But I was confident that, keeping to their bedtime routine was good for them. That’s how I managed to remain calm and stay strong and persevere.

It was hard though, I must admit.

But had I felt guilty and uncertain, I may have succumbed and given in, allowing them to stay up a little later?

That would have been a BIG mistake!

If we succumb to our childrens guilt trips, and move the goal posts just once, we can expect our children to make us move them even further the next time, as they try to find out how far they can push things in their favour?

Guaranteed, next time, they will use that as their trump card.

So, prepare yourself for most childrens favourite phrase, you know, the one that makes most parents cringe in annoyance at themselves of;

‘It’s not fair, you let me yesterday, why not today?’  

To which, no parent can ever find a justifiable explanation.

So, we either end up giving into them once again, creating another unwanted habit, that’ll be hard to break?

Or, we become annoyed and upset with ourselves, for giving in to them in the first place?

Resulting in a no win for us parents! 

REVELLING IN THE RESULTS

That’s why, it’s best to persevere and stay strong from the outset.

If we can persevere with routines until we get the results we want, then life will become much easier for ourselves, as well as our children.

Other parents and their children, (such as those playing outside at bedtime) may take a different approach?


You will be responsible for your children, no one else’s!

And that’s fine for them.

After all, they are the ones who will be responsible for their own childrens health and well -being and managing their own childrens behaviour.

But you will be responsible for your children, no one else’s.

Focusing on the most beneficial, proactive approach, that’s suitable for you and your child is always best.

This I may add, is not the easiest approach initially. But I promise, long term you’ll be revelling in the results.

KEEP IT POSITIVE

It’s a good idea to keep a good balance between, the positive reasons for following the routine, and the negative reasons for not. This means, if our children refuse to go to bed, we can point out the positive reasons why they should, and highlight the negatives of staying awake.

 A typical example could sound something like this;

‘Go to sleep now Sam or else you will be too tired to play with your friends at nursery tomorrow, and that won’t be any fun. And don’t forget that you’re going to need plenty of sleep to give you energy, so you can climb that big climbing frame when you go to the park with Granddad in the afternoon too! But you won’t be able to if you are too tired. And I know you are really excited to do all that so, the sooner you go to sleep, the quicker tomorrow will come, and you can show him how high you can climb.’


You’re going to need plenty of sleep to give you energy, so you can climb that big climbing frame.

Always try to end on a positive.

This may seem like a long -winded way to say;

 ‘Go to sleep!’

But it’s the quickest and most effective way in the long run.

Highlighting the positives and negatives, encourages our children to want to follow routines, a lot more than just telling them to comply or else.

Providing an explanation helps them to know, exactly why it benefits them and why we want them to go to sleep?

Routines then make sense.

And when they make sense to our children, the sun may have his hat on, but our children will try to sleep anyway!

Your Child is a Gift, Enjoy the Present!