If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you will know I make no secret about the fact that I am an older mum. I gave birth to Elliott at the age of 36 and I am currently strapped into the passenger seat of a speeding car and hurtling towards my 40th birthday (I turned 38 earlier this year). So imagine my surprise when a health check at work put my metabolic age at a sprightly 23.
Yup! A whole 15 years younger than my actual age!
The health test, carried out by our local council, measured things like fat mass, muscle mass, bone mass, BMI, hydration levels, resting heart rate and blood pressure. I have to say I was shocked by the results, I mean obviously delighted, but shocked too.
Shifting the baby weight
I’ve always been slim. Skinny sometimes. I remember the school nurse worrying about me having an eating disorder as she weighed me. My incredulous expression and list of foods I’d eaten that day soon put her mind at ease. I guess I’ve always just had a relatively fast metabolism.
Since having Elliott my weight has yo-yo’d massively. I didn’t think I put on a massive amount of weight when I was pregnant, but now when I look back of photos of myself I’m quite conscious of how chubby my face and arms actually became (and quite pleased I was oblivious to it at the time). Shortly after giving birth I had a ridiculous amount of water retention which made me look like a balloon. It took me a while to lose the initial baby weight and I delighted in buying size 12 jeans for the first time in my life. That’s not to say that I wasn’t also delighted when those Peacocks distressed denim skinny jeans hung off me and I had to go back to my trusty TopShop staight leg jobbies. Except, I couldn’t. I’d lost the baby weight but my body was now a totally different shape, so my TopShop Baxters were cast aside for F&F jeans (infinitely more affordable and a super flattering fit).
Months later I became scarily thin. I was existing on coffee and kisses and not a lot else. I had cold after cold and was running myself ragged. I hated the way I looked, but hey at least I’d lost the baby weight… right? Hmm…
Then I got a bit bigger. I enjoyed having boobs and curves, until I went on a no sugar diet and slimmed down again. I loved the flat tummy, but missed my boobs. Now I’m somewhere in-between. I have a constant muffin top, yet my arms are super-toned from lifting a 2.5 stone toddler on a daily basis. Two tell signs of a mother of a little one.
Diet and exercise
Looks aside, I honestly didn’t think I was all that healthy. In a similar vein as my weight, my diet swings madly from being super-healthy through to mostly made up of coffee and chocolate. This is usually determined by whether we’re shopping at Ocado (with all their tempting whole foods) or Tesco (where shopping on a budget is key). It gets even worse if we shop at Aldi (it may be cheap, but their healthy options are few and far between).
Aside from running around after a toddler I hadn’t done any exercise since a lame attempt at a jog one Sunday morning, where I realised 1. how unfit I was; 2. that perhaps my pelvic floor wasn’t as strong as I thought; 3. That I really need to learn to pace myself; and 4. that dropping your phone on the floor mid-run isn’t good for the blood pressure. Since then there have been occasional swims and sessions of yoga.
Looking after myself
Seriously, I don’t mean to annoy people but I have no reason to be as healthy as my metabolic age suggests. But then maybe that’s the thing, maybe it’s not about the way I look, and maybe it’s not about sweating it out in the gym, but more about moving often by dancing and running and playing rough and tumble with my toddler? Maybe my body really is a little miracle. A little miracle which I honestly take for granted, which is why I’ve decided I need to take better care of myself.
Recently I’ve been feeling continually tired. Not unusual for a mother of a three year old who works full time, is in the process of moving home, who blogs and vlogs and freelances and tries to have some semblance of a social life, but even when I have stopped to rest I just can’t shake the tired feeling. That’s why I’ve decided to focus on the following areas to make me feel better and brighter, especially as the season of cold and flu is just around the corner.
- Rest – by reading books, painting my nails, watching TV – just doing something that makes me take time out to stop.
- Exercise – I have really neglected this area of my life recently. After all, when you’re feeling lethargic exercise is the last thing you want to do. But this week I’ve completed two yoga sessions and one HIIT training session. Thank goodness for the Yoga with Adriene and Joe Wicks’ Bodycoach YouTube channels.
- Drink more water – I’ve just invested in a new Hydratem8 bottle and am trying to stay hydrated. I do find this difficult with the constant lure of coffee and Coca Cola though.
- Consume less caffeine – although caffeine is great at giving me a short-term boost I do think that, in the long term, it’s one of the things which is making me feel sluggish as the caffeine high makes way for the sleepy mid-afternoon low.
- Take vitamins – I am a bugger, and a stupid bugger at that. I buy expensive face creams and leave them in the bathroom cabinet. I buy vitamins and stash them in the kitchen cupboard, never to be seen again. I obviously really need to be using these things to get any benefit from them.
- Improve my diet – more veg, more iron-rich foods, more cooking from scratch, more whole foods. Less chocolate and crisps and cake. You may notice I said less, not none.
So, yeah, I’m not sure what the point of this post is, other than to document the fact that at the age of 38, I have the metabolic age of a 23 year old. But also to remind myself and anyone else that, regardless of your age, shape or size, your body is amazing but you have a responsibility to take care of it.
What do you do to take care of yourself?