How to remain a “sane” Mom

It’s very natural to feel like your life is changed forever once you’re a mother. Motherhood is joy but it’s not all as rosy as it looks in pictures. Early motherhood is full of sleepless nights leading to a tired you all the time. And just when you think that your baby has started sleeping through the night, there is a constant need to match with their high energy levels through the day. It’s a great feeling re-living your childhood through your them but this stage can also burn you out if you are not careful and don’t plan wisely. Here are some ways that you might want to try to maintain a balance between your life as a mother and your life as an individual (the one you were living before becoming a mother):

Ask for help: Being a mother is a full time job whether you’re working or stay at home. So don’t be shy to ask a family member – your partner, your sibling, your parents or your partner’s parents to baby sit while you’re away. Families are a strong support system when it comes to child care. The safety and the comfort that a family member can offer are unmatched. But having said that, if it is not an option, look out for other options such as a day care or a nanny not only when you’re working but also when you need time off for yourself – for activities such as going to a beauty parlor, or meeting your friends or while having a date night with your partner. Some of these activities are important aspects of who you are as an individual and are contributor to who you are today. So there is no reason you cannot continue doing these with proper management.

It’s OK to put yourself first: Since childhood, we’ve always been taught to keep others’ happiness first. Especially if you’re a female, there are numerous compromises that you would make throughout your life. The truth is that you can’t make others around you happy if you yourself aren’t. So once in a while, it is okay to put yourself first and say NO if you don’t want to accompany your partner to his cousin’s family thing.  It is okay to take care of yourself, take time out for your interests in between your busy schedule and do what makes you happy, even if that means sleeping till noon on Sundays!

Don’t lose yourself: Nobody is going to judge if you are not with your child 24*7. Stop considering yourself a bad mommy if the child has got rashes because you left him with a nanny who did not change his diaper as frequently as you asked her to. No hell will break loose if you were 5 minutes late to pick him up from school because your meeting at office overran. As long he is in safe hands, it is alright. We often undermine our role as a financial support and still consider that our major role as a caregiver is our benchmark for success. With the constantly evolving society, it’s important to talk to your partner openly about your needs and divide the child care responsibilities almost equally.

Go easy: In order to bring perfection to the way our children conduct themselves, we sometimes tend to burden ourselves. So while they’re creating a mess with colors, we try to control them because we want our home to be clean as if , if it is not, it will reflect badly on our report card! I mean what’s the worst they’ll do? They will create a color mess that will require dry cleaning the carpet later on? Now imagine the 30 minute of uninterrupted afternoon nap that you can catch up on or your favorite TV show that you can watch while they’re having fun with colors? Wonderful, isn’t it?

Don’t feel like cooking on a Sunday? It’s okay to order in food and let him have some fries if he’s not had junk food all week. This will keep them happy as well as keep you relaxed too.

In reality, mothers are normal human beings who get tired, frustrated and sometimes angry too. And none of these is good for the development of your child. Hence, it is important to take a break from judging ourselves and go easy. Do things that make you happy and see that happiness reflect off your child.

How to be a part of any group and make friends

Have you recently joined a new workplace where you don’t know anybody? Do you feel alone at lunchtime where everyone is talking to each other and you just quietly eat your food in the cafeteria or sometimes even at your desk? Do you have trouble initiating conversations? Do you want to have colleagues you can talk to at workplace, then this article is for you. I am sharing some simple tips from my experience that will allow you to enter a group and be a part of it

  • Listen: Listening is the first step to initiating a conversation. Be an active listener. It will help you to understand more about the group you’re in, the kind of people they are, things that interest them and whether you want to be a part of this group eventually or not. So listen carefully!
  • Find out: Does the group look alien to you? Do they talk about football and you know nothing about the sport other than that there is a player called Cristiano Ronaldo who’s very popular! Worry not! In every group, there are people of all kinds with varied interest. You just have to identify the one you can relate to easily. Is there a movie buff who shares your interest? Just mention one of the movies you watched last night while getting a cup of coffee together and they’ll make sure to include you in group conversations next time.  And if nothing else works, politics is one topic which interests almost all of us! Just pick up a news from this morning and mention to the guys and get everyone talking and lo! you’d be the center of their attention
  • Show care: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care” Be genuinely caring. If someone mentions that their aunt died last week, don’t just keep waiting for finding “common topics”. Be attentive listener and show genuine care. Human relationships are built on care and empathy. If there’s no such topic, offer something that shows care – it could be helping one of the colleagues with their work, sharing learning from your past experience or bringing them some good homemade food and you’re sure to make a way into their heart
  • Dress up: I am not saying that you put loads of makeup on if you don’t usually do it but be hygienic – take a bath and put on fresh clothes (preferably smart) every day. Believe it or not, if you look fresh, you radiate energy and people are attracted to you
  • Smile: Nothing works if you don’t follow this. A smile is the best way to let people know that you’re willing to open up. Smiling keeps you positive and attracts people towards you.  So, flash that beautiful smile of yours and see people smiling back and get them talking to you in no time

5 simple food habits to lose weight faster

There’s no doubt that a well-managed diet and an exercise regime are most crucial in dropping those extra pounds but what if I tell you that your goal weight can be achieved faster if you follow some simple food habits through the day? Everyone talks about how green tea or black coffee are rich in antioxidants and aid in weight loss but for people like me who cannot drink these at all, the below ritual helped instead. The food items mentioned below are in addition to your meal plan (whether you’re following 3 main meals or 6 smaller meals).  It’s not only about eating these foods but also the timing at which you eat them helps aid in weight loss. So, read carefully

  1. Fenugreek Water : Feel thirsty after a long night’s sleep? Having water as the first thing in the morning is generally a good habit. What if we replace this normal water with something that will work on your weight loss through the entire day? Yes you heard that right! 10 – 12 fenugreek seeds soaked in a glass of water overnight is what you should be having the first thing in the morning. These seeds are rich in water soluble fibre and have been proven to be good in blood sugar regulation and appetite control. Galactomannan, a water soluble component found in Fenugreek is said to be very effective in suppressing appetite by slowing down emptying of stomach.
  2. Early morning fruit: Once you’ve had the water, give a 10 minute break and gulp on any seasonal fruit. And by season fruit, I mean you can have bananas too which many people think lead to weigh gain. But when eaten in morning, they provide fuel to body and are ideal to be had before you hit the gym. Having a fruit as the first thing kick starts your metabolism and suppresses your sugar cravings through the day.
  3. Curry leaves: Before you eat your breakfast, chew on 4-5 curry leaves every day. The curry leaves consumed in any form help in digestion that keeps the gut healthy. When consumed regularly as one of the first thing in morning, they fight bad cholesterol and attack the body fat. They lower the lipid levels and triglycerides stored in the body, the major weight gain contributors
  4. Soaked dry fruits: A handful of soaked dry fruits is a mini meal in itself before you eat your breakfast. All of them are rich in fibre and keep bowel movement healthy. In addition, each has qualities of its own such as:  Almonds are good for regulating blood pressure, Raisins are rich source of iron, Walnuts help in reducing the abdominal fat and are good for liver health too.
  5. Mid-morning snack: A few hours after you’ve had your breakfast, do you start to feel hunger pangs but realize that lunch time is still a couple of hours away? This is the time when most of us tend to gulp down a cup of high-fat coffee or a muffin which are laden with sugar thus all the effort we’ve put in diet and exercise since morning goes down the drain! Why not smartly replace this snack with something that is rich in fiber such as a fruit bowl or salad. Even a glass of lime water or buttermilk can keep your hunger under control at this time.

Additional tip

Cumin and carom water: So you’ve deviated from your diet plan today and feeling guilty? Worry not, this easy to make concoction when consumed as the last drink of the day helps in digestion and in reducing flatulence. Just take ½ tbsp of cumin and ½ tbsp of carom in 2 glasses of water. Boil the mix until the volume reduces to half. Let it cool , strain it and drink it. You will immediately start to feel less guilty 🙂

I hope you find the above useful. Do leave a comment if you have more ideas that can be added to the list above.

Before you get Pregnant

Becoming a mother is a wonderful gift of nature. Most of us, girls, love surprises but it’s best to be prepared for receiving this one. Here’s why.

With increased stress and deteriorating quality of lifestyle (food,air,water), the risk of health issues is now more than ever before. Females are making their way through the professional world, while managing their homes and family. This means increased stress, bad food choices through the day resulting in a poorer health.

Quotes image of In a healthy body a healthy spirit.

It’s important to maintain a good health always but it becomes even more critical when you’re trying to become a mother. A good diet is something that everyone talks about but there are a few additional tips that can help in conceiving and maintaining a healthy pregnancy.

  • Prenatal supplements: It’s important to take these supplements months before you’re looking to conceive. There are two important supplements:
    • Folic Acid – It’s recommended to take 400mcg of Folic acid every day before and during pregnancy. This superhero supplement helps prevent birth defects in baby’s brain and spinal cord. In some kinds of anemia as well, this supplement is helpful
    • Iron –   Hemoglobin is the carrier of oxygen to different parts of body and hence it is essential to have good hemoglobin else it can affect oxygen supply to baby’s body parts posing risk to growth. Almost all females undergo a mild anemia during pregnancy.  Most common type of anemia is caused by iron deficiency and hence it is recommended to take this supplement daily (exception being the Thalassemia patients) before and during pregnancy   
  • Watch your weight: It’s a common myth that you can eat all what you want before and during pregnancy as you’re eating for two! An excessive weight gain can lead to complications for both you and the baby. Probability of conception is more if you are at an optimum weight. To maintain a healthy weight before and during pregnancy it’s important to
    • Eat smaller meals : This helps in maintain weight and also in some cases helps deal with the issue of heartburn (which is common during pregnancy)
    • Exercise: I can’t stress enough the importance of a 45 minute cardio workout before and during pregnancy. If you have otherwise a healthy pregnancy (no low lying placenta etc.), you should be able to continue exercising till the day of your delivery! And by exercise I don’t mean heavy weightlifting. A brisk walk is good too. Exercise helps in regulating blood sugar and increases your chances of a having a normal delivery too!
  • Alcohol and Smoking: It is believed that any amount of alcohol reduces your chances of conception so avoid it as much as you can. Once you’re sure that you’re pregnant, having any amount of alcohol can pose risk of birth defects in the baby. Similarly, nicotine found in cigarettes can cause extreme complications in pregnancy including preterm labor, low birth weight and brain damage of the unborn baby.
  • Pre-pregnancy check-up It’s important to consult with your gynecologist and let her know that you’re trying to get pregnant so that she can assess for any possible health issues with the baby arising due to any parent’s current health condition or due to their respective genetic history.
    • Heath screening: This will include full range of tests such as pap smear or blood tests to check for illnesses such as:
      •  Thyroid problems (Hypo or Hyper)
      •  Sexually transmitted diseases such as Chlamydia, syphilis
      • HIV
  • Genetic Testing:  Genetic testing tells you the possibility of the child inheriting a disease (25% only if both parents are carriers). The findings of tests can later be confirmed by tests such as amniocentesis during 10th to 12th week of pregnancy. Common conditions for which genetic testing is done are
    • Cystic Fibrosis
    • Sickle Cell diseases
    • Thalassemia

 There could be other health risks too so please consult with your gynecologist.

Finally, if you’ve been diagnosed with any of the above medical conditions, it’s still possible to have a healthy pregnancy in most cases with proper medical care. I myself have got a Beta Thalassemia trait which means I had extremely low hb levels (6g/dl). I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism during the first few weeks of pregnancy. But the preparation we’d done (refer tips above) helped us overcome the health issues and we received our healthy gift at the end of 9 months. I hope through this post of mine, I am able to help at least some of you get ready for the most beautiful chapter of your lives.

Living life with PCOS

One of the most common health issues that women in the reproductive age (18-45 years of age) face across world is PCOS (Poly Cystic Ovaries Syndrome). It affects ~ 116 million women worldwide as per WHO records in 2012.

In many cases, the condition remains undiagnosed for years. The Syndrome can show from no symptom to multiple symptoms.

Here are the most common symptoms to watch out for:

Irregular, absent or abnormal menstruation

The duration between consecutive periods could constantly vary, the flow could be very heavy or minimal or one could even go without periods for months at stretch!

  • Unexplained weight gain: PCOS leads to increased insulin resistance in body which means whatever you eat gets converted to fat, causing weight gain although your diet has not increased making you wonder why!
  • Hair growth: PCOS leads to increased production of testosterone in body thus leading to emergence of ‘male-like’ features. One of the most evident being the growth of facial hair or hair growth on chest and back
  • Acne: Due to increased production of Testosterone, there is an increased sebum production, leading to clogged pores, giving birth to much dreaded problem ladies, acne!

Other symptoms linked with PCOS could be hair fall, hair thinning, difficulty to conceive and depression.

So, if you think you could have PCOS or know someone who might be suffering from this condition, stay put.

So, what exactly is PCOS and how to get it diagnosed?

In simple terms, PCOS is caused by a hormonal imbalance due to which the ovaries of a female produce higher than the usual amount of male hormone. The ovaries may develop numerous small follicles (collection of fluid) and hence they fail to release eggs, ultimately leading to irregular menstrual cycle and difficulty in getting pregnant.

If you have any of the above symptoms, you should visit a gynaecologist. They’ll most likely order blood work and get a hormone profile done to confirm the findings. In many cases, an Ultrasound (Pelvis) is ordered as well to check on what’s happening with the ovaries!

Now, you’ve been diagnosed with PCOS, so what next?

Common questions that might be running through your mind are

  1. Will I be able to lead a normal life?
  2. Will I be able to have children?

The answer to the above questions is a resounding Yes

And I say this from my personal experience. I was diagnosed with PCOS at the age of 16! I’ve always had issues with losing the extra weight, dealing with the un-invited guest ‘the acne’ and my periods were always irregular and painful. But guess what, I have been maintaining a healthy weight for quite some time now and I am a proud mother of a 3 year old son. If I can live a normal life with PCOS, so can you.

Here’s how you can manage the symptoms of PCOS (unfortunately there’s no cure at present):

  • Weight Loss: It’s believed that losing 10% of your current weight helps in a remarkable improvement in PCOS symptoms. Unfortunately, PCOS and weight gain form a vicious cycle. The PCOS makes the weight loss very difficult due to the increased insulin resistance. On the other hand, the heavier you become, the severe the PCOS symptoms gets. To break this cycle and to achieve success , persistence is required  through
    • Diet:  Maintaining a healthy diet is very important. It’s important to include complex carbohydrates (instead of the simple ones) in your diet. Break down your 3 main meals into 6 smaller meals allowing time for digestion. Get rid of sugars, aerated beverages, packaged food and instead include fresh fruits and vegetables (preferably seasonal).
    • Active lifestyle: It is extremely important to perform some moderate level of exercise for 45 minutes every day. Be it a brisk walk, a jog , gymming, swimming or dance but you have to get out of bed and get going to conquer this lifestyle disease to get the best out of yourself. During your day also, try to take small walks after each meal, try to stand wherever possible so can burn more calories to help with the weight loss.
  • Medication : This totally depends on your gynaecologist’s point of view but some medications do help with the weight loss. These medications are the same as used to treat Type 2 diabetes (remember the insulin resistance PCOS produces?).  For me, this continued until 20 weeks of pregnancy! To manage acne and to regulate menstrual cycle, some  gynaecologists also prescribe contraceptive pills for a certain period of time (unless you’re trying to get pregnant) and it works wonders. Do consult with your doctor before you start taking any medication as each body is different and every medicine does have a side effect.
  • Persistence and will power: These are as important as the above two in managing this lifestyle disease. It’s easy to get disheartened and give up when you don’t see the desired results immediately. But trust me, persistence and will power are the keys to overcome PCOS. For us, results such as weight loss take a longer time to show but once they show, you’ll feel proud of yourself.

So get up, chin up and be ready to face the monster called PCOS head on with the above suggested tips. If you’ve got any more suggestions, do leave them in the comments section. For expert advice, do consult your gynaecologist.

About this Blog

As I grow a year older today (and hopefully wiser too!), this blog is a gift to myself. Being an expressive and opinionated person that I am, I have a long-standing desire to share my thoughts with the world.

“To acquire knowledge, one must study; but to acquire wisdom, one must observe.” ~ Marilyn vos Savant

I observe, I think. Having acquired wisdom over the past thirty years, this is a space to share my point of view on things that matter. “The Art of Living” is a skill acquired through practice. The first step is to learn to focus on things that are most important . Life is beautiful and should be experienced to the fullest. Through this blog, I hope to share my experiences and my learnings to help the readers through various aspects/dilemmas of life.

A traveler, a food lover, an empath – you can expect to read a variety of topics in this space. I would also love to meet some like-minded people through my writings so do stop by to say hello if you’ve stumbled upon this blog.