wellness

'I pre-plan my meals and snacks.' A week of real wellness with a working mum of two little kids.

Well Naturally
Thanks to our brand partner, Well Naturally

‘It’s important to make time to look after yourself’. 

Yep, I’ve heard that countless times from well-meaning relatives/friends/random shop assistants. It's great in theory, but as most working parents know, the reality of finding that time for yourself – let alone your health – is completely different in practice.

Now, before I unleash my wellness secrets as a working mum to a one-year-old and three-year-old, (spoiler alert: there’s no magic pill or miracle cure. What a shame), I do want to put a few caveats squarely on the table:

1. Apologies for the “j” word, but wellness is a journey, not a destination. There’s no crossing-the-finish-line-and-accepting-that-trophy moment. It’s an ongoing effort that needs to be worked at one day, one decision and even one snack at a time. 

2. I’m by no means an immaculate vision of perfect health. I have productive days, poor days and downright decadent, indulgent days. I'm not always 'healthy' in the traditional sense of that term, but I try to prioritise wellness, as much as I can. 

So here we go.

‘You can’t out-run a poor diet,’ as the old saying goes. And to be honest, that’s just not a realistic option for me anyway, because carving out a clear hour-and-a-half at the gym just isn’t feasible for me on a regular basis. Pats on the back if you find a way to do it consistently, but for me there’s just too many pressing and last-minute family or work needs.

So that’s part one - accepting that I can’t rely on formal exercise to keep my health afloat. (But I’m all about incidental exercise – more on that later.)

"I swear by a daily meal plan." Image: Supplied.

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Part two is therefore crucial, and it comes down to making sure my food choices are solid on most days of the week for the best possible chance of being my healthiest self. And for me, the trick is another rude word: organisation.

‘Winging it’ when it comes to food doesn’t help me to keep my health on track. Therefore, I swear by creating a daily meal plan and making sure I have all the corresponding food and snacks on-hand to stick to it. (Note: This isn’t for every day – but I try to make this the rule, rather than the exception.) 

Devoid of spontaneity? Absolutely. Ultra-effective for consistent healthy eating? You betcha. 

Having a plan takes away that emotionally-driven food decision, which can oh-so easily happen when you’re either trying to work on little sleep or need to scoff something in-between chasing kids. Making your meal a forgone conclusion means no room for cheating yourself out of a healthy choice.

I love a list, so I will literally write out a menu plan for the upcoming days with designated meals and snacks for each day. (And I promise it's all totally normal, wholesome foods!) I’d have eggs on toast for breakfast, a mixed salad or sandwich for lunch and a batch-cooked family favourite dinner, pre-portioned into heat-and-serve sizes. 

I also live for snacks, so they are very much part of the plan. Again, having the right choices handy is important so I stock up on fresh fruit, yoghurt and popcorn, crackers or nuts. 

Adding a sweet treat into the mix is also part of my plan, and Well Naturally’s No Sugar Added Chocolate bars are a top guilt-free indulgence. You can find it in the health food aisle at most major supermarkets and it comes in a range of milk or dark chocolate varieties, making it perfect for that 3pm pick-me-up or after-dinner sweet finish. Mentally, I find it helpful knowing that I have a treat option ready and waiting because it takes away that ‘denial’ feeling you can sometimes get when you’re on a ‘trying to be healthy’ mission. Plus, the Well Naturally No Sugar Added Chocolate range is sweetened by stevia, but most importantly, it is real chocolate, without the sugar! 

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"Adding a sweet treat into the mix is also part of my plan." Image: Supplied. 

Food may play a major role in staying healthy, but finding ways to add exercise into my days is another challenge in practicality. The first thing I do every morning is strap on a fitness tracker to monitor all that incidental exercise that happens as a mum of two ultra-energetic boys. (Side note: I also wear a sports bra and sneakers on exclusively kiddie watch days. Tres chic, right? But totally necessary for incidental mum workouts.)

Game of chasing? Running through the sprinkler? Carrying a child in one arm and a shopping bag in the other? Yep, that’s me. I easily wrack up over 10,000 steps on full parent-duty days and take any opportunity that will get my heart rate pumping. 

My work days offer a little more flexibility. Living the WFH dream means unfortunately there’s no lunchtime gym class to duck out to. Instead, when my mind needs a break – even if it’s just 10 minutes – I’ll pop open a fitness app (so many free ones out there) or hit play on a fitness class video (search YouTube for loads of options) and do a workout in my backyard or lounge room. Bonus tip: no cute gym attire required when it’s only the dog witnessing you sweat.

A moment to exercise. Image: Supplied.

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I’ll admit I find other ‘self-care’ wellness practices a little harder to squeeze in or justify time-wise. But if I get a clear window, I latch onto the little things. Like, running myself a big bubble bath after the kids have gone to sleep. (But also leaving the door ajar and a towel handy in case I need to dash out if someone wakes up crying.) Even taking a spare few minutes to sit down with a tea and a few squares of my favourite Well Naturally No Sugar Added Chocolate in Coconut Delight flavour can make a huge difference.

On the odd day I commute to work, I’m a huge fan of popping in my headphones and listening to an online audio meditation. Plus, when you’re wearing sunnies and now face masks, no one is the wiser that you’re breathing deeply with eyes closed.

Recently, I’ve also made a huge effort to put down my phone and pick up a book while the kids are watching TV. It’s so easy to mindlessly scroll on your phone when they’re preoccupied, but I find swapping it out for a few minutes of reading makes for a more enriching and relaxing experience.

But I get it. Life is busy. Work is pressing. Chores are annoying. And kids are completely lovable but also all-consuming. However, I’ve found that approaching health and wellness with a pragmatic plan that’s integral to your existing everyday working mum existence makes it that little bit more achievable on most - but not all - days. And that’s okay.

With time, these small daily efforts add up. And after a while, your definition of wellness becomes your reality.

Well Naturally
Chocolate lovers rejoice! You can now enjoy great tasting chocolate with no sugar added. Well Naturally® No Sugar Added Chocolate is made with premium ingredients and sweetened naturally with stevia - it makes your healthier choices feel so natural, it’s hardly a choice at all. Available in the health food aisle of Coles, Woolworths and Independent Supermarkets.
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