Eat, Exercise and Abstain: Introducing the Witches of Woe

Patience is a virtue, but sadly not one of mine when it came to starting a family.

I turned my husband into my dietician and personal trainer, I started picking the brains of doctors, specialists, and sourcing insights from friends and acquaintances.

So I know we are truly blessed we were able to conceive, especially considering we are both in our fabulous forties.

Which is why, like most first time mums, as soon as I realised I was pregnant, I started reading…

Subsequently, my diet continued along the path that would best give my body the ability to concentrate on nourishing our little egg into a healthy bub.

From the research my husband and I conducted, we surmised that rather than fighting to function against preservatives and other hidden hinderances, we would focus on nurturing my body, rather than pursue my diet of habit.

It had to be a ‘we’ effort, as self control and a hungry pregnant woman simply don’t exist – at least not in my world.

Not surprisingly, enter my heart-to-heart with my pesky little mates: Little Miss Gluten and Little Miss Lactose, aka the Witches of Woe.

You see WOW, have proven to be no friends to me at all. Consequently, I have shared a love hate relationship with them both since turning 37 and while I’d like to think their say over all things dietary for me in my forties is due to a misspent youth, sadly I think the truth is decidely more vanilla.

My body – for whatever reason – doesn’t respond warmly to gluten or lactose. Bloat being the main side effect followed by a fogginess that descends on me making even the simplest of tasks a little challenging.

Now what some may call baby brain – and let’s be honest, that little beast is real – the gluten haze as I like to refer to it, is a reality that can be avoided, if you’re willing to forgo the habits of western dining founded in years of poor practice rather than any health science.

Step 1: Rethinking the Weekly Shop

Now before you think this is about to turn into a ‘All hail the Paleo diet’ diatribe to which MKR’s Pete Evans would be proud, rest assured – there’s no room for that kind of crazy in these parts.

More a focus on careful observation of the variant parts contained in the highly processed foods we have learnt to keep as ‘staples’ in our pantries.

As you’d expect, gone from my pantry are the delights: Special K, Nutri Grain, White bread, raisin loaf, Pasta, flour, full cream milk, … you get my drift.

Instead, I have specific variants on the traditional with labels reading gluten free, lactose free and dairy free. So my alternative staples include: soy & linseed bread, rice bubbles, gluten-free pasta and zymil milk – small and simple adjustments to the weekly groceries and nothing too confronting for my tastebuds.

To be honest, I apply the 80:20 rule. If I’m good good 80% of the time, then I can be ‘not so good’ the other 20% :P

Which sees me enjoying a glass of bubbles now and then.

To Wine or Not to Wine – Everyone has an Opinion

As luck would have it, it was also my body’s choice, that alcohol didn’t pass my lips while I was pregnant.

Believe me, I was as surprised as anyone, that a bubble had lost all of its appeal but I was also a little relieved too.

I’d been lucky enough to have been introduced to FAS through a chat or two with the wonderful Dr Elizabeth Elliot who among other things, conducts research into foetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD).

However, detailed information on drinking while breastfeeding – and by this I mean managing the milk production with safe (alcohol-free) feeding was tricky to come by.

While I downloaded the ‘Feed Safe App’, planning ahead and expressing milk for bottle feeds were my best available solutions.

I can hear some of you screaming judgementally, ‘abstinence is best’ (Yes, Mum!), for those of us who enjoy the odd tipple, it’s a bloody good treat post partum when you’re sick of feeling like Bessie the Cow and you just want to have an hour or so of pure unadulterated ‘me time’.

Selfish right…?

Probably. However, the way I reconcile it in my head is simple:

I eat healthily and exercise regularly (don’t worry, I’m not referring to strenuous gym sessions thrice daily, moreso leisurely walks around the block most days!) as part of my WOW management plan.

I abstain 95% of the time, so I’m entitled to have my 5% of me time now and then :)

While bloat is no longer a problem, although fatigue remains. I put that down to bub’s demands rather than an unsavoury byproduct of indulging my pesky little mates: Little Miss Gluten and Little Miss Lactose, aka the Witches of Woe.

EndNote:

If you’d like to find out more information on FAS, start here: Foetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) – Better Health Channel

I’m back

Apologies to those of you who have felt abandoned by my blogging hiatus of the last couple of months.

The simple truth: My analogue life got in the way of my much loved digital one.

While I now sport some new labels (mum and start-up founder), the good news is I’m back and in the swing of all things research, writing and strategic business.

Inspired by @BrianSolis’ keynote at the Telstra Australian Digital Summit at the end of last year, the creative juices have been flowing…in between giving birth to my daughter and giving birth to our ‘digital’ baby, which we’ll be officially launching in June 2015.

#WatchThisSpace

xo Tiff

#KeepingItReal #TheArtOfGr8Comedy

Girly Things At The Australian Open

I’ve thought it, but never heard it mentioned in commentary.

Unexpectedly, a British tennis player has put the most natural of monthly events front and centre during performance discussions at the 2015 Australian Open.

In a tournament that saw World No.1 Roger Federer dismissed in Round Two by Italian Andreas Seppi, only to be sent packing by Australian 19 year old wunkerkid Nick Kyrgios prior to the quarter finals and Serena Williams power through all would be rivals to her 18 major grand slam win, we have also witnessed the rise of a discussion previously considered too delicate to discuss through sports media circles: Menstruation in Pro Sport.

Up until 2015, the female menstrual cycle has been the elephant in women’s dressing rooms around the world amateur and pro alike. However, that taboo would appear to have been lifted thanks to British tennis player, Heather Watson attributing nausea and dizziness on court to ‘girl things’  in her Round 1 loss to Bulgarian Tsvetsana Pironkovato.

Now while some of you may cringe behind your manly, mans, man look at the world, there are physical differences beyond the obvious between male and female athletes.

The impact of the physiological on performance significant.

Women are mentally tough. We might play the damsel in distress now and then, but really that’s just us being lazy and our way of saying ‘ I just want someone to look after for a little while’.

I applaud Watson’s honesty. Sometimes Mother Nature really does hold a girl back from being at her best, but I wonder: when is too much information, too much information…?

Call me old fashioned, but while there’s definitely a time and place for open comms about preparation and performance in sport, it could be argued that some things are better left to the imagination and fan speculation.

Self aware celebrity #NeverTooLate

Posting a photo of yourself four weeks post partum carrying the comment ‘I’m finally getting my stomach back’ is a new mum’s post of excitement.

After playing host for 9 months then fulfilling the roles of: dedicated milk bar, cleaner, general slave to any and every need of your newborn, a mum is entitled to get excited about getting a little of her ‘sexy’ self back.

As someone who had completely underestimated the joy of merely seeing my bikini line post bub’s arrival, I think it imperative – in light of Instagram and Facebook posts from former beauty pageant contestant, Erin McNaught and other ‘celebrities’ – that both men and women remember there’s a line that differentiates us all…called genetics.

It is these inherited genes that play a significant role in post partum body types.

Additionally, it’s also important for ALL to remember that social media technologies enable a private peek into the lives of the genetically blessed leaving those of us without washboard abs to wonder what we’re doing wrong.

Only if we let it…

Personally, I think Erin looks great and I’m happy (if not slightly hopeful my 40 year old skin will jump back with half of the  elastic glory) her 32 year old frame has done!

I’m sure she has been working out, watching what she eats and generally looking after herself.

If she’s breast feeding even better – as no doubt those uterine contractions are going to contribute positively to her postpartum recovery.

But what about the other new mums who follow Erin on Instagram?

Those women who may have suffered bloat and are struggling not only with the demands of being a new mum but with trying to be a desirable woman…?

Celebrity used to mean you were famous for being good at something.

Sadly that hasn’t been the case for the past decade or two, so much so that anyone willing to have a opinion, access to a camera phone and a willingness to share private pictures and stories is considered newsworthy for others.

In an era where you can be worshipped for wearing an attitude as ferocious as the price of the designer clothes your parents pay for, I encourage all new mums to stop and contemplate for a moment.

1) Is my baby safe?

2) Is my baby feeding well?

3) Is my baby fulfilling all the ‘output’ requirements as identified in pictures and print on a laminated A4 card that was dutifully handed around the new parenting class (and memorised by my husband!)

4) Am I managing to get a little rest in between feeds?

5) Am I eating well?

6) Am I drinking lots of water?

7) Am I managing to have a shower each day?

If you answered yes to most of the above, then I think you’re doing pretty well.

At the end of the day, if bub’s happy,you’re already half way to ecstatically chuffed that you’re bluffing your way through this new parent caper exceptionally well! :)

One of the most profound discoveries for me, on falling pregnant was the impact on social discourse with other women.

When you fall pregnant the way you interact with other women changes. From female relatives, life long friends, colleagues, students, acquaintances and even pseudo friends, the learnings are key.

As an older mum, I think you’re also acutely aware of how privileged you are to:

a) have fallen pregnant,

b) carried to term

c) be blessed with a healthy bub.

Which in turn, (I’d like to think) enables you to be more cogniscant of other women’s struggles around procreation and building upon little families in your 40’s.

Personally, I’d like to see a slightly more measured approach from our so called ‘celebrities’ in support of new mums around parenting expectations (you’re going to be flying blind, so ask as many questions as you need to build confidence, because this new parenting roller coaster is 50% knowledge acquisition in the flash of a brief hospital stay and 50% confidence). #Seriously.

No book can prepare you for where your first hurdle will lay.

For me, when my obstetrician, placed my baby on my belly after birth, I was a crying dribbling mess.

I couldn’t believe how clever my husband and I were – and how insanely awesome Mother Nature truly is.

I was also petrified.

Seeing my hesitation, my obstetrician gently encouraged me to take the baby. Instantly, I seemed to have grown eight arms of which I had absolutely no control over.

“I don’t know how” I admitted.

“She’s your baby Tiff, work it out. You won’t hurt her.”

It was the best thing he could have said to me.

I’d carried her for the better part of 9 months (well 8 and a bit to be specific) and it was on her father and I who she would now be reliant, so I didn’t have the luxury of hiding behind my fears.

I had to jump in and step up.

Which is all any of us can endeavour to do to the best of our ability as novices on the new parent treadmill.

…and if we see our friends or celebrity types with washboard abs four months after a visit to the delivery suite, rather than bemoan the jelly belly you still wear like a badge of honour, embrace the fact genetics, diet and lifestyle play a huge part in our ability to recover expeditiously from the inordinate stress carrying a baby puts on your body.

After all, one gassy smile or cross-eyed eye roll is all it takes to remind us, this journey isn’t so much about us, as it is inherently about them! :)