Author

Gale Ruttanaphon

The New Year is often the time for a fresh beginning where we make goals to grow and improve ourselves. Popular new year resolutions usually centre around health, whether it’s to lose weight or to start exercise. Everyone starts the new year as hopeful as ever, motivated to make this year the best one yet. Gyms are full and buzzing with new members. You have to fight for a treadmill machine like your kid fights for a swing at Benjasiri Park. Do you know that the first 3 months are the busiest months of the year for any gym? The effect of the New Year resolution is real. But, do you also know that more than 50% of people who start a new exercise programme drop out within the first 6 months? I’m sitting in a coffee shop as I’m writing this article. It’s me and another guy sitting across from me. According to the statistics it’s me or him, or both of us will call it quits, drop out, and stop exercise by mid year. So, what does it take for us to not become a statistic? What is the saving grace that will help us push through the resistance when it’s much easier to do nothing? Here are the 3 tips I want to share with you.

  1. Don’t exercise

Yesterday, I ran into an old client in the playground. As we stood there talking, she told me she hasn’t been exercising just yoga and walking a lot. That sounds like exercise to me! What she told me really was that she hasn’t been doing HIIT and weightlifting like when she trained with me. Many people hate to “exercise”. The word “exercise” seems to conjure up images of putting ourselves through a painful experience doing whatever it is we hate doing. In this respect I must say I haven’t been “exercising” either. My “exercise” is swimming, half drowning, half gasping for air as I try to do my interpretation of freestyle – not fun. You don’t need to put yourself through something you hate to count it as exercise. Don’t battle with it. Make it your friend. Don’t “exercise” but pick whatever movement you enjoy and weave it into your life regularly.

  1. Be your own laboratory

I used to be one of those people who counted my daily calories and tracked how much protein I eat. I tried to eat 1,500 calories and 50 grammes of protein per day. I eventually stopped. Why? Because I was eating so much protein it was getting expensive and I was becoming neurotic tracking so many things.

Today, I eat normally. I wake up, have 2 pieces of buttered honey toast and a Kinto of basil seed iced tea. For lunch, I have rice with 2 kinds of main dishes, one meat based, one veggie based. Sometimes these dishes are home cooked or sometimes they are whatever I feel like from the street vendors like moo ping or spicy pork from a Korean shop next door. I enjoyed closing off my lunch and dinner with a sweet snack, my rule is no snack until midday, it’s arbitrary but it feels reasonable to me. Dinner is whatever leftovers we have in the fridge. Last night was rice, grilled chicken with kimchi.

Business growth concept on turquoise background flat lay. hand stacking wooden blocks.

I know research shows you need to eat a ton of protein to make and keep your muscles. Today, I don’t eat extra protein or supplements, and I can honestly say I can’t see any difference in my body eating 50g of protein per day or eating normally like this. So, keep an open mind, experiment and be your own laboratory. At the end of the day, you know yourself best, distill it down until you find an approach that works for you. This goes for everything in life not just nutrition.

  1. Add heat

When you are baking a cake, you have flour, sugar, eggs, baking powder, butter. You mix them together, but this does not make a cake. It makes goop. You have to put it in the oven and add heat. The heat transforms the goop into cake. In a sense this is what a lasting lifestyle change is like. You have all these ingredients, the logical, rational reasons from your brain that tell you – “I need to make time for myself, eat better, exercise, and move more”, but to know them is not enough. You must add the heat and the energy of your heart. The heat is your feeling, your internal drive, and your emotional sense why something matters to you. What difference would it make to your life if you can lose this weight? “Sia”, one of my coaching clients, told me of her desire to lose weight. In her own words, she wanted to be able to “rock a bikini in her 40s”. As we peeled the layers back, it became clearer to Sia that her definition of rocking a bikini means a strong and lean body, an image she associated with health. As a nutritionist who is an advocate for health, she wants to live a life that’s true to herself and advice she gives to her clients. This was the heat, the fire that Sia discovered inside herself that day. She still wanted to lose weight, but she uncovered her internal drive to be in alignment and at one with herself. When you travel deeper inside yourself and when you’re able to go beyond where your logical mind thinks you should go, you will touch down onto something real. This is the heat that will allow you to burn through your excuses and keep going even when it’s easier to revert back to your old patterns.

Over the years, I’ve come to learn that it’s harder to develop healthy habits if there’s a part of you that’s resisting the change. So, I invite you to find enjoyment in the way you move and eat, and meaningful reason that speaks to your heart. May this be the beginning of your lasting change.

Gale Ruttanaphon 

Fitness coach with Pre/Post Natal Specialisation, Corporate Speaker, Life Coach, Mother of two #Get confident in your own skin. Founder of My Mummy First and the creator of The Mummy Reboot, a holistic programme that helps mums lose weight, become stronger, healthier and confident in their own skin. 

More available on: www.mymummyfirst.com/themummyreboot

IG: MyMummyFirst

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Last night my daughter was having a meltdown, refusing to go to sleep – she  wanted to finish her panda mask so that she could wear it to bed. Upon packing up she realised she forgot to add the horn, “what panda has a horn I asked?”. Tears in her eyes, screaming “a Unicorn panda mummy!” as she shot me a death stare and I was left feeling like an imbecile. Sometimes, most of the time, motherhood throws you a curveball, but you roll with it. I felt grateful I don’t have additional stress in my life at this stage as I simply don’t have energy or time for anything else on top. This brings me precisely to the point I want to make in this article – motherhood is already stressful enough, there’s no need to add more stress especially if your goal is weight loss.   

Back to basics

Most mums who want to lose weight think I need to go on a diet. The truth is there isn’t one way to eat to lose weight. Don’t believe me? If you think you need to eat high protein, low carb to lose weight, then look at trim and terrific vegans (or vegetarians) who pretty much live on a high carbs, low protein diets. How do you explain that? Perhaps it’s better to eat smaller, more frequent meals to keep our metabolism high? But wait, a bunch of your friends have lost a tremendous amount of weight doing the exact opposite – eating larger, less frequent meals when they went on an intermittent fasting diet.

If your goal is weight loss – rather than giving your current diet a complete face lift. Try to master these fundamentals first:  

1) Eat mindfully and calmly 

2) Eat more fruit and veggies 

3) Move your body

Going on a strict diet without first mastering these fundamentals is like saying you’re going to start exercising 7 days a week when you already find it hard to fit in regular exercise. Not impossible but extremely hard to do!

Forget the “if you’re not doing it tough, you’re not trying hard enough” attitude

You don’t need complexity to get incredible results. Good nutrition helps us look, feel, and perform our best. But another element of good nutrition that we don’t often think about is how easy it is for us to actually stick to it? The best nutrition for you is the one you can actually stick to because it takes into account your lifestyle, personal preference, and available time.

Lifestyle: I exercise 3-4 times a week doing mostly HIIT exercise and strength training.

So, about 30/40% of my food intake will be carbs. Because I’m relying on glucose, the basic building block of carbs, as my body’s main source of energy for working muscles. However, mums who are less active or prefer lower intensity exercises might only need 10/20% carbohydrates in their diet.

Personal preference: I like the ideas that I can be flexible with my eating – eat anything, with anyone, at any time. Eating is not just eating but a bonding time with my loved ones. While, I think Keto and intermittent fasting have some amazing health benefits, it just something that doesn’t work for me. I want to be able to sit down to have a meal with my family when we’re ready rather than when the clock tells me. I also like carbs and sweet things, so I’m not willing to give that up for a Keto diet.

Available time: I eat out about 1-3 times, but most of the time my husband and I will cook big batches of food. We cook, freeze, and eat leftovers. I don’t have time to cook every night. When I do have time, I don’t want to spend it on cooking. I’d rather take the kids to the park or hang out with them on our balcony. Some mums might enjoy cooking, they might even cook with their kids. Other mums with very young kids and no help might like the convenience of being able to order in. 

The human body adapts amazingly well to many different ways of eating. We can be healthy and fit whether we eat mostly meat (carnivore diet), mostly carbohydrate (vegan and vegetarian), mostly fat (Keto) as long as we consistently do the basics well.

In fact, next time you feel like you’re doing it tough, I encourage you to use this “resistance” as a guide and ask yourself what else you can try? Chances are you just haven’t found a solution that works for you yet. One of my clients found it hard to motivate herself to go to the gym. Even though she desperately wanted to get fit again after pregnancy she never found exercise fun. This was the resistance that kept her from sticking to exercise. It wasn’t until she joined postpartum group exercises that for the first time, she enjoyed exercising and was able to develop lasting healthy habits with her exercise.

About Gale

I work with busy mums to help them become strong, lean, confident women. Women who take on greater challenges beyond exercise, translating into happier mums, and great role models for their kids.

My Mummy First is a deeply transformative programme that makes weight loss and healthy living fun, in a supportive community of mums that support, celebrate and lift each other up to become the best versions of themselves.

Gale Ruttanaphon

Founder My Mummy First, Fitness coach with Pre/Post Natal Specialisation, Corporate Speaker, Life Coach, Mother of two

More available on: www.mymummyfirst.com

Instagram: MyMummyFirst

Facebook: MyMummyFirst

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We all aim to eat well and follow a healthy diet. Having healthy snacks can keep you satisfied, provide the energy you need to keep going, and help prevent ravenous hunger so you don’t overeat later on. The more you plan ahead, the easier it is to stick to a healthy diet. After all, isn’t this why we mums pre-pack healthy snacks for our children? Along the way though, after we’ve given birth and the baby is no longer a part of our body, we seem to forget that tight association between how we care
for ourselves and how we care for our children’s health. In the past, I used to send my daughter to school with a nicely prepared, healthy snack box, whilst I ravenously gobbled up banana bread for breakfast on the way to work. Why is it that as mums we often shortchange and deny ourselves all the good things we do for our kids? A healthy diet, healthy snacks, and the importance of pre-planning are just as crucial for you, as it is for your child. Preparing healthy snacks ahead of time doesn’t have to be a complicated affair. You don’t need to pack a separate box for you and your child. Whatever is good for you is good for your child and vice versa. Here is a list of things I keep in mind when I pack snacks for my family. Smart snack guidelines: Pick appropriate snacks to suit your needs: Of all the macronutrients that you consume, your body can digest carbohydrates the fastest, followed by protein and then fat. Knowing this fact can help you plan ahead and choose appropriate snacks for you and your little ones.

When to reach for carbohydrates: As carbohydrate is digested faster than protein and fat, it can provide you with a fast energy boost to overcome your mid-afternoon slump. Carbohydrates have developed a bit of a bad rap recently, but do you know that carbohydrates are your body’s preferred source of energy? However, not all carbohydrates are created equal. Simple carbohydrates, common snacks I see at school, like baked treats, juices or breakfast cereal, will give a short term energy spike follow by a subsequent crash. To get a steadier energy lift, reach for complex carbohydrates snacks like fresh fruit, granola bars, or homemade trail mix.

When to reach for protein and fat:

Protein and fat take longer to digest, so snacks that contain these macronutrients will keep you satisfied for longer. If you know you’ve got a longer gap between two meals, then prepare snacks that contain some protein and fat ahead of time can prevent a family “hanger” meltdown. For a long family road trip, I like to pre-pack things like raw cashews, roasted salted almonds1 and beef jerky. You can also pick up on-the-go snacks like peeled hard boiled eggs, roasted sunflower seeds, roasted pumpkin kennels, shumai, or milk from the convenience stores. Use the substitution rule rather than subtraction for maximum snack pleasure: There is a difference between feeling satisfied and just full. A good snack should satisfy and give you pleasure, rather than simply filling the void in your stomach. If I tried to get my daughter to eat a healthy, low sugar, fat and salt snack, she wouldn’t have a bar of it. Chances are I wouldn’t want to eat it either. I have a sweet tooth and so has my daughter (I’m sure I may be to blame). We both love brownies which are not particularly healthy for us. However, rather than subtracting them from our lives, I choose to bake them myself. This way I can control the quality and the quantity of what go
into our brownies and substitute some ingredients to make them healthier. In the recipe at the end2, chickpea was used instead of flour (less processed and more fibre) and honey instead of white sugar (less processed, and less sugar due to higher water content).

Snack on food you ‘want’ to eat rather than food you feel you ‘should’ eat: I don’t know what’s true for you, but I know that I feel most at peace with food when I prioritise healthy eating, balanced with occasional snacks like chocolate and chips. If you and your kids truly want to eat something, allow yourself to. When you deny yourself or your child a particular food because it’s labelled ‘bad’ or ‘unhealthy’, you’re glorifying that food by making it more special. This can lead to intense cravings and the final outcome is often binging. Eating chocolate or chips is not inherently unhealthy, it’s only unhealthy when we binge eat it. This tends to only happen when we finally “give-in” to the forbidden food we’ve been wanting, but we’ve been denying ourselves. Imagine giving yourself and your child unconditional permission to eat a cookie every day, chances are by day 10, or even 20 you and your child will feel so sick of cookies you will no longer see cookie as a special indulgent food. To conclude, what’s good for you is good for the kids, so pre-plan so you’re not caught out, and treat snacks as something pleasurable to eat, something the family can look forward to.

About the author:
Gale Ruttanaphon
– Founder of My Mummy First
Asia’s exclusive health & fitness expert for mums Gale works with busy mums who can’t identify with the person they see in the mirror now and feel guilty to take any time for themselves, which makes them feel ashamed, insecure, and out of control. She helps them become strong, lean, confident women who take on greater challenges beyond exercise, translating into happier mums, and good role models to their kids.

Footnotes:
1 The brand that I like is Blue Diamond roasted salted almonds because it has pretty lower sodium (4% daily value per serving). As a general guide: 5% DV or less of sodium per serving is considered low, and 20% DV or more of sodium per serving is considered high. 2 Fudgy chickpea brownies *Slight modifications from a recipe I found on Pinterest from lindseyghoens.blogspot Ingredients:
• 1 can of chickpeas (drained and
rinsed)
• 2 tbp unsalted butter (melted)
• 2 eggs
• 1/3 cup of maple syrup or honey
• 2 tsp of pure vanilla extract
• 1⁄2 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
• 1 pinch of salt
• 1⁄4 cup of dark chocolate chips

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 180°C. In a blender, combine all the ingredients except dark chocolate chips and blend until smooth. Stir in the dark chocolate chips and pour into a baking tray. Bake for 10-15 minutes (until toothpick comes out clean when testing).

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When I gave birth to my daughter and made the transition to motherhood, I was still trying to grapple with my own concept of what a “good” mother means. What should a mother do and not do to be considered “good”, because I know I wanted to be a good mum for my daughter. I remember feeling guilty and ashamed for leaving my daughter with a nanny to go for my own exercise. Then I asked myself why should I feel bad? I felt bad, because I was having an internal battle with myself.

My internal battle

My love for exercise started when I was in the final year of high school, going through a stressful period of preparing for a university entrance exam in Australia. Truth be told, I started running because I didn’t want to get fat. I was studying and eating all day long and it was starting to show. I quickly realised that not only did exercise help me destress, it gave me more energy, it made me stronger, and I was pleasantly surprised at the distances I was able to cover! I was proud of myself – I never thought I had an athletic streak in me. I kept up with exercise right through to my pregnancy. I remember going to a gym class the day before my daughter was born and feeling great about the session.    

After I gave birth to my daughter, I felt disconnected to my postpartum body, I didn’t like what I was seeing in the mirror. My belly was wobbly, I felt weak, I didn’t look right. I wanted to do something about my body, and get back to exercise, but in my mind I had an overwhelming sense of guilt. The voice inside my head kept asking “what kind of a selfish mum are you leaving your baby to go exercise?” I felt so confused and ashamed – where was all this guilt coming from? I felt compelled to be with my daughter and look after her, but I also wanted to go exercise and look after myself. I was torn in two.

Our society praises selflessness and decries selfishness. The message is loud and clear – mum has to be selfless. A good mother cares first for her babies, then her partner, then herself. Therefore, self-care gets equated with selfishness. When a mum takes time off and does something for herself, she’s selfish, she’s not a good mother.  

For the longest time, I smothered the side of me that wanted to look after myself, and I stayed back with my daughter to be a good selfless mum that I ought to be. But slowly I grew unhappy, and resentful. Unhappy because I felt drained and exhausted like a cup half-empty. Resentful because even though I wanted to be “selfless”, I still desperately needed a little time out, so I felt “forced” to give from my already half empty cup.  

Fear of selfishness syndrome

Selflessness doesn’t come naturally to me, it comes with a level of exhaustion, anxiety and unhappiness. Then it dawned on me that I was suppressing the urge to look after myself simply out of the “fear of selfishness”. I was afraid what other people would think of me. This feels like the exact opposite of giving from the heart which selflessness embodies. The fear of selfishness asserts that I need to do whatever it takes to be there for other people,  especially my children, even when I feel overwhelmed and worn out. Because of this, the fear of selfishness carries the energy of shame and guilt. I felt bad leaving my daughter to go exercise, and equally bad not going. I felt trapped without a choice. The realisation that a good mother comes from within NOT from others marked my turning point. It made me want to search for my own definition of what being a good mother means. I truly believe we cannot adequately care for others if we do not care for ourselves first.

Put on your oxygen mask first before helping others

The truth is a mother also needs her downtime, for me there’s a time for self-care and there’s a time for selflessness. The two concepts are not mutually exclusive. By recognising when to be generous and when to be self-attentive, you create boundaries that will help you. Help protect you from over extending yourself and help protect others from the resentment that can form when you overextend for them. You wear yourself thin when you act out of fear of being selfish. Just as the cabin crew say in the flight safety briefing – “Put on your oxygen mask first before helping others”. You are no good to anyone if you run out of oxygen. To me, the distinction between selflessness and self-care is not black and white. We can divide our time to do both. We spend 1 hr on ourselves, the remaining 23 hours we can still be good and devoted mums. We can be a selfless mum and we can also be a mum who takes care of herself. We don’t need to exclusively choose one or the other.

Self-nurturing is an essential prerequisite for good parenting. As your child gets older, you need to set a good example for him or her. Your child needs to see a mum who respects and looks after herself. This is not selfishness; this is self-respect and good role modelling.   There’s no need to lose your sense of self in the process of mothering. Don’t let your identity disappear in the guise of motherhood. I strongly believe in practicing self-nurturing daily!

Make sure you have space for your own needs. Nurture yourself by doing something each day that you want – go exercise, get a manicure, read a book, dress up and get out. I promise your baby will be just fine with your husband, your mum, or your nanny. Thailand is a great place to get help, it’s affordable and never too far away.

Sharing my belief – creating My Mummy First

I founded My Mummy First during my maternity leave, because I believe mums deserve to be looked after too. I was inspired to create a company that focuses on the mum, and the mum only. Through exercise and fitness, I found other mums out there that felt the way I did. Through this common connection I realised my superpower, I can make fitness fun. I get to work with the most amazing women who show me how wonderful and powerful motherhood truly is. My Mummy First is a company, but it’s really a community of mums that support, celebrate and lift each other up so we can all become the best version of ourselves. 

Be good to yourself – give yourself the love and respect you deserve. You’ll be a better parent, a better partner, and a happier mum. This I truly believe.

Gale Ruttanaphon – Graduate Purdue University, Masters Sydney University, ACE Certified Trainer with Pre/Post Natal Specialisation, Corporate Speaker, Life Coach, Mother of two.

Website: www.mymummyfirst.com

IG: MyMummyFirst

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