Building A Foundation of Diet and Exercise
This week's podcast guest is my dear friend Carol Ann Lindley. She's no stranger to special needs homeschooling. She has two sons, and her oldest has Sensory Processing Disorder. Due to that, she has spent several years with her son in occupational therapy. While she never planned to homeschool, she realized that her son was smart, but would never survive in a classroom setting due to his sensory needs.
Carol Ann is also doing something else she never saw coming: she is a fitness instructor at a local gym, teaching group fitness classes.
While she was naturally athletic in high school, the weight and unhealthy habits started to creep on as she got older and started having kids. After her younger son was born, she found out that she had degenerative disks and had to have back surgery. It was at age 30 that she was well over 200 pounds and was told by the surgeon that she either needed to get strong, or to plan on more surgeries and life in a wheelchair.
Over the last 5 years she has been in the gym. She started with walking slowly, but she eventually lost the 30 pounds, loves weight lifting, and is a certified fitness instructor who is passionate about helping people who need to overcome challenges. (That's why she is on the show!)
Self Care vs Self Stewardship
In the episode, I referenced an article I wrote a while back about self care and why I choose to call it self-stewardship instead. You can read that here.
Carol Ann emphasized the importance of not having an entitlement attitude toward exercise--to exercise because you believe you deserve the time to yourself. As special needs moms, plans often change, and to feel that we can't be happy without putting ourselves first just sets us up for failure and embitterment towards our kids. A self-stewardship approach toward exercise, however, helps us to think long term.
In 30 years, what do you want to be able to do for your [special needs] child?
Exercise Habits For the Busy Mom
It might be survival mode in some stages of life, but it's still possible to carve out 10 minutes here and there to be active. We brush our teeth and have other habits that we do daily for short periods of time because we're thinking toward the future. Exercise is no different.
Some moms may feel guilty leaving their kids with someone else while they take time to exercise. But it's all about thinking long term. You could even send school work for kids to do at the gym childcare. (That's what Carol Ann does.)
If you can't leave your kids in childcare at the gym, or if your life just can't accommodate a gym membership, try using a TV program (that's what Beth does), or have playdate meetings in the park while moms exercise together.
Tackling Food Issues
Carol Ann realized that for her, tackling her food issues was going to be the key to her success. She highly recommends the book A Taste For Truth: A 30 Day Weight Loss Bible Study by Barb Raveling. (Side note not mentioned in the episode: Barb's other book I Deserve A Donut is really good too!)
Going through the Bible study, Carol Ann realized that she had a problem with sneaking food. She also realized that while she wasn't an emotional eater, she was an "entitlement" eater. The example she gave was that if she baked a dozen cookies for the 3 people at home, she felt entitled to eat 4 of them, whether or not she should eat them.
The solution that Carol Ann found to her food issues was to set hard and fast lifetime rules for herself. For example, she faithfully counts calories and refuses to buy soda.
In all this, it's important to remember to build grace and flexibility into our lives. Starting an extreme regimen and expecting it to last will not work.
The change that lasts is slow.
Tips For Diet and Exercise For Busy Homeschooling Moms
Interval training is a great way to build strength and burn calories in a short period of time. It can be done anywhere.
Work on getting your heart rate spiking. You don't need a gym to do that.
Surround yourself with people who can cheer you on within your limits. If walking a mile is all you can do, then find people who can cheer you for that and not expect you to be in an advanced group class. Community is really important.
Be diligent in stretching regularly. Especially your hip flexors and lower back. It will keep your posture strong.
Finally, remember to keep it all in perspective.
I'm not working towards a perfect body. That's not my goal. My goal is 'how useful can I be?'
Looking For A Community?
Whether you are a seasoned homeschooler or are just considering homeschooling your child with special needs or a learning disability, I invite you to join the Flamingo Feathers Facebook community! You'll be joining with other Christian moms who will journey alongside you!