I am loving getting to know all you amazing Mums. So inspirational!
Alejandra Zapata is a Women's High Performance coach from Melbourne and discusses how she manages running her own coaching business, wellbeing and of course the emotional rollercoaster we Mums know so well.
My favourite bit of this interview is how Alejandra marks motherhood as a significant key to achieving her wellbeing goals (something she was unable to do before).
Like many of these interviews, this provides further proof that motherhood can push you to meet health goals like never before.
Tell us about you and your family?
I’m a mother of 2 beautiful girls (ages 5 and 2), a wife and I am a High Performance Coach for women.
I live in Melbourne, Australia.
What has been your favourite part of Motherhood?
Every age has its highs and lows, but I think I enjoy them more now because I get to have a conversation with them, although they speak so much sometimes, lol.
It’s great now, because they offer to help me with the house chores. They’re more independent and self-sufficient, which gives me time to do more of the things I love.
What has most surprised you about Motherhood, good or bad, and how were you able to deal with it?
I always wanted to be a mom because I love children. However, I never expected it to be so challenging and overwhelming. I pretty much lost myself in the process, affecting me and my close ones.
At that time, I thought it was just part of the process of not having time for myself and that I had to accept that it was the way to do it.
Thank God, my husband was really supportive and that helped to cope up with all the roller coaster of emotions.
What do you wish you had known or done differently in the earlier days of Motherhood?
I think putting less pressure on myself. I created very high standards for myself, making it so hard to cope up with everything.
So, focus on what matters to you the most and ask for help if you need to.
This one was a big one for me because as any other independent woman, I find myself trying to do everything on my own and that didn’t help at all.
Body + Wellbeing
Did you get back into shape bub with ease, or was it a challenge? How did you do it? Any tips?
My fitness journey is very uncommon, I suppose.
Before I had my girls, I wasn’t active at all. I mean, I tried several times to get healthier and fit, but I failed. I even paid one-year gym memberships to see if that would make go, but as I wasn’t committed to myself, that didn’t work out well.
Now, to be honest, I was very lucky after I had my first child, because I got back into shape quite quickly (without any exercise), but when I had my second child the story was different.
I didn’t feel myself, and my confidence and self-esteem were quite low. I was complaining in front of the mirror every day, but not doing anything to change it.
Until I got tired of complaining and decided that I had to do something about it. I started following an app (program + recipes) which allowed me to exercise at home. I was working out 30 minutes a day from Monday to Friday.
I think for me what made the biggest difference was to schedule my daily exercise at the same time every day, which at the start felt quite challenging but after 4 weeks, exercise was part of my daily routine. Habits and personal systems are key if you want to make big changes such as this one.
So, in terms of food, I was cooking in batches on Sundays because I didn’t have much time during the week. When I went back to work from maternity leave, I changed my routine to make it at a time that most suited everyone at home but kept doing it 5 days a week.
I now, do weight lifting and I go from 3 to 4 days a week, and my relationship with food is really good.
I think is important for you to find a great balance and understand that it’s OK to eat healthy most of the time, but not always.
I enjoy some pizzas and ice creams here and there
What has been the biggest challenge when balancing motherhood and wellbeing?
I think finding the time to do it. In my case the only suitable time was going to the gym at 5:30 am. I never considered myself a morning person, but I really wanted to do this for me and I had to compromise on something. So, that was my compromise.
What motivates you to stay on track with your health and wellbeing?
It’s being 2 years since I’ve been exercising regularly and for me the biggest changed has been in terms of my self-confidence. I feel strong, fit, healthy, confident and that really motivates me to keep on going.
Also, reminding myself why I’m doing is key for me to keep working on my goals.
After all, health is one of my core values, so tapping into that makes me feel committed to it.
On the other hand, I love the idea of setting a great example for my girls, to look after their bodies inside out.
What foods or exercises make you feel alive and energetic?
In terms of exercise, I love weight lifting, it challenges me and makes me feel so energetic and makes my day so productive.
In terms of foods, I love pasta, white rice, green veggies, oats, fish, chicken, eggs, legumes, fruits, nuts, soy milk
And I drink lots of water, I try to drink 2 litres every day.
What foods or exercises or drinks do you stay away from?
How has your body changed since childbirth and how did you embrace it? Is your relationship with your body better now or worse?
It took me 2 children to realise how important it’s to look after my body. I never took care of it the way I’m doing it now.
I love it and embrace it because I’ve been able to transform it in a way that I didn’t even think it was possible.
What are your guilty pleasures?
Pizza and sweet pastries
How do you find time to exercise? Any tips or secret hacks you can share?
I decided to focus on the habits and systems that I needed to implement in order to make exercise a part of my daily routine.
So, in my case the only way to incorporate a new habit is by making radical changes.
I decided to start 5 days a week at 5:30 am every day. I prepared my food in batches over the weekend, to avoid temptations, and left my gym outfit ready the night before, so I sort of mentally prepared myself for my morning session.
There was another thing that helped me stay motivated the first few weeks and that was having a role model, someone who has already achieved what I wanted to achieve. Following their journey made me feel more determined and made me feel that it was possible.
What advice would you give to other Mums struggling with their wellbeing?
I think you need to find the balance that best suits your schedule and your own commitments. But I think that there should be a balance when it comes to starting small.
You should start “big”, but you shouldn’t aim to do more than you feel capable of doing, if that makes sense. So, if you want to start small, I think 3 days is ideal and you can always change it as you start making progress.
And talking about progress, I believe it’s important to focus on your progress more than on your end goal. Even though, you start with an end in mind, it’s important to acknowledge the small steps taking you closer to your end goal.
And one last thing, be kind to yourself. So, if one day you couldn’t maintain the same level of discipline with your food and exercise, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t go back on track and try again.
What are your exercise goals?
I found exercise to be the habit that has transformed my life the most, and because of that, I want to keep building up on it.
So, my goal is to tone my body and become fitter and stronger. I also use my time to exercise as a space for me to reconnect with myself and to get my energy back.
What tools help you navigate Motherhood and sanity on a daily basis
I don’t do much meditation, but I have a very powerful morning routine that sets the tone for the rest of my day.
The 3 key aspects of my daily routine include: gratitude, exercise and personal development. And of course, the craziness of getting the girls ready for school and childcare too.
Another thing that has helped to be a better mom is pursuing my professional goals. Working on my own business creates the perfect balance between motherhood and who I’m as a person.
How do you find/make time to address your mind?
I schedule it and prioritise it in my day. I think the principle of scheduling your work/business tasks applies to your own personal things, like personal development, exercise, etc.
Mental health was one of the main reasons Project Mamma was created. Do you have any tips or advice to offer?
As mothers, we tend to put everyone else’s needs first, but I think if you look after yourself more, you’ll be in a much better position to look after others.
If you feel happy and fulfilled with what you’re doing, everyone around you will feel the same way.
Regardless of what that “looking after yourself means”, dedicating time to yourself will help you become a better mom, a better wife and ultimately a better YOU.