Have you noticed how mums are great at putting their needs at the bottom of the pile?
The problem is it leads to exhausted mums running around on empty batteries.
Life changes dramatically when you have children. To begin with they’re dependent on you 24 hours a day. It’s natural that you have to make a few sacrifices and put your baby’s needs before your own.
But many women get stuck in that routine. As their babies grow into older children, they continue to put everyone else’s needs above their own. Until they’re worn out. Batteries run down.
This has huge consequences on their health and well-being. Not least of all their emotional wellness.
Today, Ree Johnson chats to Dr, Orlena about her story of reaching rock bottom, how she turned her life around and how she now helps other mothers avoid the same mistakes.
She answers these questions:
Our podcast guest for today, Ree Johnson of mindbodyspiritbliss.com shares her story of how she sacrificed her career over her children, how it affected her and how she learned to take care of herself and finally got her life back into balance.
Hello, and welcome to Fit and Fabulous with me, Dr. Orlena Kerek. I hope that you are feeling fit and fabulous.
It is the deep dark depths of winter here in Spain, which means that we had a big storm last week and it can be quite chilly in the morning. I always find winters quite difficult. Although I have to confess, living in Spain, we do get a little bit of sun, so I should be very, very grateful for that. It does make it feel a little bit easier.
If you were paying attention before Christmas, I said in January that I was going to do a challenge, something like a chickpea challenge. Now I have rethought this challenge, partly because I didn't get any chance to do any work over the Christmas holidays.
What I want to do is a challenge in April. So it'll be after Easter. That gives me lots of time to really start preparing the Challenge and make it amazing and fabulous, so you can make some big leaps forward. It's going to be about healthy eating and losing weight. It's about all the things that you need to do to do healthy eating and living and losing weight whilst you have a family. I'm going to sit down and write the first day right now. I feel amazingly organized.
Keep an eye out for that. I will tell you a little bit more about that over the coming weeks.
Before we dive into today's episode, I have a few more of the planning session. If you would like to chat about your 2021 health and wellness goals, take me up on this free offer of a half-hour session.
If you get back to me before the end of the week, then I will make sure that we can fit in a session for you. Does that sound fair enough?
Today we are talking about. Self-care and why self-care is really the key to so many things. It's the key to weight loss, to healthy living. It's the key to looking after our children.
It's really that first step. That first recognition, that point when we say, "okay, I have to take care of myself."
So many people don't take care of themselves and I was definitely one of those people. I remember when I had four young children and life just felt so overwhelming. I wanted to be doing exciting things, but really, and truly I was busy wiping nappies and looking after children.
My self-identity totally destroyed.
When I heard Ree Johnson’s chat in the summit that we did before Christmas, she told this story, which was a very similar story and it just really spoke to me. It was amazing. So I invited her to come and chat to us.
If you want to find out more about her, she is at mindbodyspiritbliss.com. So let's dive right in Ree.
Dr. Orlena: Welcome to Fit and Fabulous with me, Dr.Orlena Kerek.
Ree: Hi, thank you for having me. I'm so excited.
Dr. Orlena: Pleasure to have you on the podcast. A little bit of backstory so that people understand what we're talking about. You were one of the amazing contributors to our Fabulous Summit that we did. Goodness, back in November now and on your talk, you gave this amazing story, which I really, really loved. And so I invited you on to come and chat and tell us about the story. A little sneak peek, it's all about self-care, but do you want to jump in and tell the story that you told on that talk?
Ree: Yes, I can jump in. I was had my third kid and she was unexpected, honestly. My second is a little girl, my first was a boy. After I had my second, around eight months, my milk dried up and I'm like, "what is going on?." So I started trying to increase it by buying fenugreek, doing the mother's milk, and stuff like that. But it would not come back and I'm like, "why is this happening?" I ended up taking a test and it was my third one. I started freaking out and everything because I knew things would have to change. At that time I was working full time in a position that I really liked, but I knew that was having another one in daycare. My income would probably pretty much equal how much I would need to spend at daycare.
Ree: Around when my third child became like six months or so, it was impossible, I ended up quitting and becoming a stay-at-home mom. For me, it took a part of my identity. I know I always get teased about this because people are like, "oh, you should be so happy that you could be home with your kids full time." Like, this is such a blessing for you and I'm like, I like to work. I went to school, I got my degrees and I felt like it was a part of my identity. I felt like I was progressing in life when I was working.
When I came home, it felt like all I did was serve other people like my husband. I was just washing clothes. I was cleaning and cooking and doing everything for everybody else. And I think as a society, that's how women are looked upon. We're viewed in the spotlight that if we make other people happy, then we're doing a great job. We're a great wife or a great mother, but we ended up losing ourselves.
Ree: What happened to me is I literally lost myself. I didn't know what I wanted, what I needed or who I was anymore.
One day my husband came home and I literally just ran straight out of the house, went to the driveway, I jumped in a car and I was like, "oh my gosh, I can't take this anymore" like, I'm literally going to break. I'm crying. Tears were pouring down my eyes and I just literally just drive out of the driveway. I'm rushing and I'm crying the whole way. And I'm wondering like, what happened? how did I get here? Because I always wanted to have a career, I didn't even want to have kids. I didn't even want to get married, but here I was married, with kids and I didn't have a career anymore.
I was lost. As I was driving and crying, I literally ended up in Target because I feel like that's where a lot of people end up there. It's one of my favourite stores. I was trying to get myself together cause I literally had on my maternity like leggings and I'm already like six months.
Six, seven months postpartum, they weren't fitting the right way anymore. So they are like saggy and I'm like wiping, like my socks and my eyes and everything on the back of my sleep. I looked a mess because my daughter, she still wasn't sleeping through the night and I just got done crying, but I got out. It was like, you know what? I'm just going to happen a little bit of time to myself because I'm not going to rush back to my home yet.
Ree: I walked into the store and I'm looking at the mannequins and I'm like, "oh, I love the shirt or I love these jeans." But then I feel guilty because I'm like, if I buy something from me, then my kids are missing out when that's not the case at all. So I'm rambling through the store and then somehow I end up in the soup out. And all of a sudden am like having another breakdown.
I literally am on the ground and crying so hard because I feel so lost. I feel like I don't know how I got there. I felt like I had so much going for me. I was doing all the right things. I went to school and got married, had kids, had a family, everything. But nothing was making me happy. I'm like, okay. So when does this happiness occur? Like when am I supposed to feel like all my hard work paid off?
Dr. Orlena: I love it. Got it. I love it. I love your story. Not that I love the story, but I resonate so much with that story. I think the reason I wanted you on, because I think it happens to so many people, you also happen to in quite a dramatic way.
Dr. Orlena: One of the questions I want to ask you is as a creative what were you doing in your career before?
Ree: I was an analyst in consumer product goods companies. So I was working with like Heinz and Kraft and also with like Unilever and Food Buy. I was processing their rebates for them.
Dr. Orlena: I had a very similar story. So I went from being a doctor too. I say I accidentally gave up my career. I didn't really mean to, but I think that big change from using your brain being stimulated, feeling like you're doing something with purpose. And then suddenly it comes to this grinding halt.
As much as we love our kids and feel totally privileged to be able to give up work, to be able to look after them. It's almost this. And then I'm going to pay peek-a-boo 50,000 times a day. I used to that. The thought that would always occur to me was what am I going to cook for dinner? Not that my kids are gonna eat it anyhow. I had picky eaters and whatever I cooked at that time, they wouldn't eat anything cooked. It was almost like the focus of my day was doing that.
Dr. Orlena: So what happened after that time? Did you manage to put things back together?
Ree: Yes, I did. I realized that I had to start doing things for myself. I literally lost myself and taking care of everyone and everybody. I was even to the point that I wouldn't eat the last piece of this because my kids would want it or my husband would want it.
Even though I wanted it were asked, if my kids and husband wanted it, they wouldn't think about me. I literally did everything to please other people and I lost myself.
Ree: So what I learned to start doing is just taking some time and figuring out who I was. I learned to practice self-care in a way that fits me. So like for some people self-care, they're like, "oh, well you should go get your hair done and your nails done and do your makeup and stuff like that." That's not me. I'd rather be in a library, reading a book or something different like that.
Although we can't really go to the library right now I'd rather just sit somewhere quiet and write. Learn something new or watch something that makes me laugh versus what do you see everyone seeing in the media that you should do. Doing a facial and stuff doesn't sound like me. I just don't like the whole process. I don't like sitting there. I started thinking about what are they thinking about when they're doing my nails and stuff like that.
Dr. Orlena: It is interesting. I think it is a natural thing that happens. So if you think about when we're handed the baby and that baby relies on us 24 hours of the day. It's almost the whole programming changes and the focus of our being becomes looking after that baby. Obviously, as the baby gets older or programming doesn't change and we're still focused on that baby. And as you say you would give everything to your kids and never think about you because that focus is still okay.
I need to look after my baby and I was exactly the same when I buy things. I can buy loads of stuff for my kids, but when I ever buy myself new clothes? In my mind, it was saying, "oh, well, you can't afford it." It's clearly not the case because somehow my children had zillions of clothes and zillions of toys. It wasn't really about money. It was more about the way you think about things.
Dr. Orlena: What advice would you give people? I know there's so much self-care advice, but what are your top few tips that you would give to people? Those who were in that position that you were in where life feels overwhelming. And they just want to run to target in their pyjamas screening.
Ree: My top tip would definitely be, is ask for help. If you have, like, your spouse is here but for some reason, I felt like I had to do it all. I wouldn't ask him, they'd be like, "Hey, can you take the kids for a half-hour or a couple of hours or anything like that? so I can just go do something instead. I felt like I needed to always be there. I needed to always cookout. I needed to always clean when I could have just said, hey, can you do this? Or just like, even my kids, as they got older, I would still try to pick up stuff for them when they can pick up a toy and throw it in a box.
I had to learn to delegate and be able to ask for help and that helped me considerably.
Ree: Another thing that I do is I had to prioritize because one of my biggest things is lead, I felt like I could do it all. So I will have this to-do list of like 50 things that needed to be done that day when it should only be like three things.
I had to learn how to focus on different areas of my life. So one thing could be like, personally for me, another thing could be like, cleaning or cooking. If I needed to catch up on laundry, well, another thing could be like family time. So that way I had a balance going on. I wasn't just always cleaning or always trying to do family time and did not get any clean done.
I made a list of three things I need to get done that day, no matter what. And once those were done, then if I had more time or I have more free time, or if I wanted to, then I would just keep going. If not, okay. I'm done for the day.
Dr. Orlena: Fabulous. I guess as well, one thing that I think is really important is that recognition of what's going on. I think it kind of creeps up on people and they don't notice until they get to breaking point.
What you really need is that awareness of, "oh my goodness. I'm feeling like this". I'm feeling like all I am is a mother. I think it's one of those emotions that we really grapple with. That feeling totally privileged, but also feeling guilty that we're not enjoying it. I think when you get that feeling that I'm feeling guilty, that's a big sign.
That things aren't how they should be, because really, and truly, we want to enjoy our children. We want to enjoy that family. But if you're feeling guilty, it means that something's out of kilter. You aren't looking at yourself in a way that you're showing up.
Dr. Orlena: So now you've changed grids. What do you do now?
Ree: Now I help women basically find themselves. After when you become a mom, sometimes we get so wrapped up in it that we lose our identity and what we want and need. Right now I'm focused on a course that I'm making to help women basically go back and say, "Hey, this is what I used to like, or this is what I enjoy." It's because we give up so much of ourselves that we literally lose who we are.
Dr. Orlena: Fabulous. where can people find more about you and the course that you have?
Ree: You can find me at mindbodyspiritbliss.com. I do have a free self-care guide that lists all types of habit trackers, self-care assessments as well as self-care checklists.
Dr. Orlena: Fabulous. Thank you so much for your time and thank you for sharing your inspiring story. I hope that just by people listening to it, they can think, "yeah, that sounds like me and I'm going to come and check you out."
Ree: Thank you. I appreciate it.
I hope that you feel inspired by her story, and I hope it helps you think, "I need to start looking off to myself."
Now, just to remind you, if you'd like to take me up on one of the offers to nail your health and wellness goals in 2021, then just email me at [email protected]. I will chat to you next week.
Have a lovely week.
Wouldn't it be amazing if you could dial down your cravings for certain foods?
Or increase your like for healthy foods? Wouldn't that make healthy eating so much easier?
Well you can! In just 30 minutes.
Alea didn't like blueberries until she did the Magic Likes exercise. She was eating them and enjoying them by the end of the call!
Tory stopped eating pretzels after she did the exercise.
Find out more about Dr Orlena's Magic Likes and Dislikes Exercise.
(Psst... if you sign up for the "Overeating quiz" you can get a huge discount!)
Dr Orlena Kerek (MBChB from the University of Bristol, UK) trained as a pediatric doctor. She is now a family health coach. She helps busy mums who want to feel amazing by eating healthy food. So they can enjoy a healthy life, get back into their honeymoon shorts and teach their kids healthy habits. All without thinking about it.
If want a healthy family and healthy lifestyle without having to think about it. And you'd like help, book a 30 minute "Healthy Life Roadmap" call here.