In 1996, I began experimenting with diets. From food combining to the handful-of-chocolate-chips-throughout-the-day meal plan, I exhausted every bone in my body to completely embrace each one. By 2008, my extremism led to severe burn out and I swore off diets all together. I chose a plan of eating, with the guidance of registered dietitian, that was balanced and all-inclusive.
Everything was smooth sailing until I found out I was pregnant. All sense of normal eating and table manners were thrown out the window. Desserts were de rigour and grazing was a given. "It's the baby. She's craving this ice cream cake," I would reason after I'd turned up my nose at a salad. Five months after pregnancy, I continued to embrace the pregnancy diet. I couldn't blame Darla for my funky eating habits anymore.
It was a sign that something needed to change when Erin asked me to review Mom Energy: a simple plan to live fully charged by the famed registered dietitian Ashley Koff and fitness guru Kathy Kaehler.
I anxiously opened up Mom Energy after Darla fell asleep one night. I was afraid I would have to throw the book across the room when the "cut-this-food-item-out" preaching began. I didn't think my sleep-deprived brain could handle such pressure. What I read, however, were balanced, thorough descriptions of healthy eating and living habits, coupled with complex nutrition concepts written in laymen's terms. I began to understand the mechanics of nutrition, which I had previously followed blindly.
What really caught my attention were Koff and Kahler's ability to take the guilt out of eating. This is extremely helpful for mothers, since we live, eat and breathe shame. They encourage us to change one or two things a week until we eventually reach a steady routine of healthier habits. We're even given the option to not do it perfectly.
While no amount of healthy eating can bring energy into my system that only a night with more than four hours of sleep can cure, it has helped me find the balance that my delirious brain just can't figure out on its own. Now, I make myself sit down for meals occupied by food groups other than "candy" or "donut," which helps clear my head. That's not to say, however, that sweets are banished. I just consume them in moderation. Luckily, I have unfettered access to the types of baked goods of which Koff and Kaehler approve. I'm eternally grateful that BabyCakes' is still allowed! Further, the book is a handy guide for when I shop. I've kept in mind some of the tips listed in the book and I have, already, become a much more conscious consumer who foregoes the supermarket for the farmer's market.
The exercises prescribed are very manageable, as well. I'm much more motivated to strap baby Darla into her Ergo backpack and walk her up and down the monstrous hills in my neighborhood twice a day. Once with the two of us in the afternoon and once in the evening with the husband/dad (Greg). Not only do I have more energy and a sense of calm afterwards, it has allowed me to kill time until Greg gets home, encourages Darla to go down for a nap and gives Greg and I a chance to talk.
This "choose your own adventure" book allows the exhausted mother to slowly reenter the atmosphere of saner, healthier living. Already, I feel slightly less dumb and a lot less lethargic. I'm excited to see how much better I'll continue to feel as I gradually absorb more of these lessons. Hopefully, baby Darla will start sleeping through the night soon so I can put into practice some of the ideas discussed in the sleep chapter!