Beyond the 4th Tri; Balance Your Macros & Rediscover Yourself
Hey Lady, don’t hate me for what I’m about to confess.
For me (Anna, here), the 4th trimester is the easy part.
The journey into motherhood looks different for everyone. For many, the 4th tri (those first 3 months-ish of newborn life) is full-on survival mode. It’s often marked by sleeplessness, inconsolable crying and feelings of helplessness. If this describes your experience, you’re not alone.
In my case, the 4th tri was the easy part. I’ve had my share of struggles, but by some brilliant stroke of luck, I was blessed with boys who sleep (my second better than my first!). I also received A TON of support with a work-from-home husband and a continuous stream of grandparent visits. I never felt like I was in it alone.
It’s the next phase, the return to my previous life only to discover it looks totally different, that’s super challenging.
With returning to work comes juggling so many more responsibilities and expectations - from getting the same job done with less brainspace and way less time, to managing childcare and feeding schedules, to the internal pressure to get back to the things that fill my cup, like time with friends, exercise and getting outdoors.
The thing about having kids is that nothing gets taken off your plate. Everything just piles on top.
While it’s all so worth it, it’s also worth putting thought into how you allocate your time and energy to prevent the overwhelm from dragging you down.
Today, I wanted to share how I approach nutrition and eating to keep my stamina up during this chaotic transition time, when control over my schedule is a total joke.
Start feeling like you again after baby; Balancing your macros
I find women fall into two camps after baby;
They forget all about themselves, surviving on drive-by spoonfuls of peanut butter, discarded scraps of grilled cheese and excessive amounts of coffee; or
They put way too much pressure on themselves to get back in shape, and end up too stressed to enjoy life.
Balancing your macronutrients is the sweet spot in between.
This approach is about eating enough of the right foods to feel satisfied and energized, without having to expend too much lifeforce thinking about food. It’s the strategy I have found most helpful for getting back on the road to health & fitness, without becoming a crazy-person.
So what does this mean, balancing your macros?
Macros is shorthand for protein, carbs and fats - the three macronutrients that provide energy. Balance, for the purposes of busy mom-life, means getting a reasonable portion of protein, fat and complex carbs in each meal.
Rather than tediously counting calories or unrealistically trying to cut out carbs, you can nourish yourself and achieve your health goals by simply filling 1/2 your plate with veggies, 1/4 of your plate with fiber-full carbs and the final 1/4 with protein, all prepped in healthy fats.
some ideas to put this approach into action:
Having cereal or oatmeal for breakfast? Make sure to add healthy fats via nuts, and protein by including yogurt (we’re huge fans of overnight oats soaked in yogurt or kefir mamas who need healthy breakfast solutions) or a hard boiled egg on the side.
Pasta for dinner? Fill the sauce with veggies (like spinach, mushrooms, peppers, onion, etc.) add sausage for protein and prepare it all with olive oil for healthy fats.
Salad for lunch? Veggies are covered, as are healthy fats found in the dressing, as well as in any nuts/seeds/avocado toppings. What’s often missing is protein (add some fish, chicken or tempeh), and complex carbs (yes, you need them. Add beans, chickpeas, sweet potatoes, quinoa, corn or craisins).
Grabbing lunch on the go? Note that hummus is mostly carb and avocado mostly fat. Both healthy, yes, but neither counts as a substantial source of protein. Keep some turkey jerky, cheese sticks, edamame, or hard boiled eggs on hand for quick, easy protein.
In our online Postpartum Nutrition Program, you can get the juicy details about our recommended sources of each food group and how to optimize ratios, as well as meal plans that put it all together for you.
Some non-nutrition practices for preventing mom-life overwhelm:
Beyond nourishing myself well, here are a few other practices I have found helpful lately for keeping the overwhelm at bay:
Setting a daily mantra. (You could replace with ‘mantra’ with intention, or simply ‘reminder’). Each morning I take a few minutes to remember what’s most important to me. I then choose a phrase to repeat throughout the day to keep my priorities in check. Something like:
I choose how I spend my time and if something doesn’t get done, then in wasn’t important enough;
I got this;
I am good enough;
My worth is not defined by how much I do.
Choose sleep over pushing through. When there’s a gazillion to-dos running through your head, it’s so easy to skip on sleep. For me, I have found that pushing through when tired almost always backfires. Not only does being sleepy make me less productive, it also makes me grumpy and less likely to enjoy what I’m doing. What’s the point in getting things done if I’m not enjoying my life?!?
I hope these tips are helpful for you to keep sane as you fit all the pieces of your life puzzle together.
We love to hear from you, so if you have other strategies for managing life and motherhood, please share them in the comments below.
You were made for this!