By Desirae Harper
Being a single mom is like being a ringmaster with severe ADD and OCD combined. The stakes are high and the time is limited. We are managing all of the daily stresses of raising children. Stresses that are meant to be shouldered by two people in a supportive partnership. Add that to the pain of a fresh break up and you might find yourself feeling exhausted and defeated. The last thing we want to think about is working out or eating clean because Netflix and binge sound way more comforting.
The truth is, it’s important to take better care of ourselves so that we wake up every day renewed and ready to rock the hell out of being a solo mama! In between morning hustles and bedtime stories, we still have to take care of ourselves. I started my fitness journey when my daughter was 8 months old in November 2014 because I wanted to be a better mom but also because well, I was tired of being fat! No matter what your motivation is, follow these 8 steps to become a happier and healthier version of YOU.
Step 1. Figure out your WHY
Ask yourself why you want to lose weight and then keep asking until you land on a reason that is so deep and emotional that it makes you want to cry. For real. I started out thinking “I’m tired of being fat” but I had always felt that way. What was different now? My WHY was actually my daughter. I wanted so bad to be able to teach her how to love herself because it was a long and painful journey for me. I needed to be better so I could teach her better. I can honestly say I didn’t truly love myself until after I gave birth to her. Seeing so much of myself in her helped me love myself as much as I loved her.
Step 2. Write down your goals
They say that people who actually put pen to paper and write their goals are far more likely to achieve them. Before you write them down, you have to know what those goals are. Set a short-term goal for yourself so you don’t get overwhelmed with the idea of losing 100 lbs. A goal of losing 8 lbs in the next 4 weeks will seem easier to manage. Your goals shouldn’t just be about the number on the scale because it will be changing all the time. Set goals like “I fit into that dress or the jeans I love again” or “I can get through 10 mins of a workout without taking a break.” Write your goals as if you have already achieved them because the power of the mind and the power of words are…powerful!
Step 3. Get your MIND right
Fitness is much more of a mental game than a physical one. How we feel and how we think greatly impact our decision making. Many of us single moms are dealing with an unspeakable amount of stress, shame, and guilt. It comes with the territory but these are things we can manage and heal ourselves from. I experienced one of the deepest heartbreaks I have ever experienced when my family fell apart early in 2017. I gained back a ton of weight I had lost. Every day seemed more difficult than the last. I fell in love with listening to personal development books on audio. It was like counseling sessions I could do in my PJs. Some of my favorite authors right now are Gabrielle Bernstein, Lisa Nichols, Jen Sincero, and Brene Brown.
READ ALSO: How I Made My Daily Workout Work for Me
I learned how to shift my thinking from that of fear into a mindset of faith and perseverance. I’m at my best physically when I feed my mind daily. It’s important to understand that we need to promote spiritual and intellectual growth in order to be successful at any type of change. Making the conscious effort to learn and grow will result in a mental strength you didn’t realize you were capable of. Once your mind can push past limits, your body will follow and your newfound wisdom will have you living your best life.
Step 4. Start off slow
When we make a big decision, we typically go all out. We try to make a million changes at once, we get overwhelmed, and then we burn out. As single mamas, burn out is kind of our natural state. So why purposely try to add a million new things to your plate? Before you know it, you will be back on the couch eating tubs of ice cream and binge-watching some series on Netflix. Instead, try making one change at a time. Nutrition is usually where most people need the most help, I know I did.
Step 5. Switch up your nutrition
I suggest figuring out an eating style that you are confident you can maintain. For most, that might mean simply paying more attention to portion sizes and throwing out the junk food. For others, it may mean more research. All of our bodies are different so there isn’t a one size fits all plan. Find what works for your body and your special DNA.
Me eating healthier meant my baby was eating healthier since ain’t nobody got time for serving different meals. You and your little one can pick out healthier meals to try together. Once you have a few weeks of clean eating under your belt, then you can look into how to incorporate activity into your regimen.
READ ALSO: What I Learned About My Health After Spending 30 Days as a Vegan
Step 6: Get moving
I personally love at home programs. I lost 50 lbs from working out at home with minimal equipment. I was able to work out with my baby right there in the living room with me. She’s been watching her mommy workout since she was 8 months old. It became a routine for us. Now at 3, she gets excited about my work out time and she even loves doing them with me!
Of course, when she was younger, I had to pause my workouts a lot for mommy duties. It took her a while to understand that this was going to be a new normal for us but I didn’t have to lose quality time with her. Now, she’s my cheerleader when I’m sweating and crying on the floor. She literally gets down there with me and cheers me on until I pick myself back up.
Step 7: Experiment
Health and fitness have to be approached from an individualized perspective. What works for me may not work for you and that is perfectly okay. Don’t force yourself into a way of eating or a way of working out that does not work for you. Remember the “What the Health” documentary? Well, it scared the hell out of me and I went plant-based for a full month. While some would claim it’s the best way to eat for everybody, my body was like “NOPE! HARD PASS!”
I gained 15 lbs in 30 days. It also gave me the worst smelling gas of my life. My baby didn’t even want to be in the same room as me. The point of my TMI moment is that you want to find the eating style and workout style that fits YOUR life. You’ll accomplish that by trying out different methods. Do your research and have fun with it. It’s about what you can sustain over your lifetime, not what fad the rest of the world says works. Track your food intake and your progress with an app like myFitnessPal so you can really see what works for you and what doesn’t.
Step 8: Start NOW
Start making those changes now. Don’t wait for next January or even next Monday. Start right now. Don’t give yourself time to build up the excuses. Grab a notebook and start plotting your new lifestyle then take ACTION. If you can’t do this for yourself then think about your children. As a single mom, you are their main lifeline. If you’re too sluggish or too depressed to take care of them, then who will?
Even if you invest in your health over spending that money on the latest toy for your child, that’s okay. That toy will soon find itself forgotten or in the trash. A healthier mom is the gift that keeps on giving. The sooner you start your routine, the sooner your little ones will adjust to the new life you are both embarking on together.
Single moms work tirelessly every day to balance everything for our babies. Our own wellbeing gets lost in the shuffle and we settle for being overwhelmed and frustrated all the time. Most of us believe that way of living is all that’s available to us because of our situation but screw that! We lost a relationship and a partner but we can still live a life full of purpose, peace, and prosperity. We do that by making our health a priority right along with our children’s health. If we are intentional about getting in our best shape, both physically and mentally, we are effectively showing our favorite tiny humans the blueprint for how to claim all that they deserve in the world. How amazing is it that we can ensure their health and happiness by manifesting our own?
About the Author
Desirae Harper is a blogger from Southern California who focuses on topics that range from her life as a single mom to celebrity gossip to her own personal fitness journey. Read her blog Fierce and Flawless Life and connect with her on Facebook or Instagram.