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Can you have it all? - Balancing a career, fitness and motherhood.

My journey to motherhood was thrilling, like every girl, I always hope to have my own children at some point in my adult life. Fast forward, I was completing my PhD and so my husband and I decided to start trying to conceive (TTC). As luck would be, this didn't take us long, a few weeks later, we found out that we were pregnant. To this day, I recall the emotions that surrounded this thought and reality. “I am going to be a mum.”

Dr. Faith with her son and husband when she was starting her baby weight loss journey at 7 months postpartum
Dr. Faith with her son and husband when she was starting her baby weight loss journey at 7 months postpartum

Those that know me will describe me as someone who fervently pursues everything I put my mind to. I knew this period of my life would be no exception. I was going to be pregnant for 9 months, give birth to my baby, complete my 6 months of maternity leave and get back to my pre-baby life, pursuing my career, being a wife and everything else would be the icing on the cake. Lo, behold! I had this all wrong. I wasn’t going to treat motherhood like any other project(s) in my life. This season of my life humbled me. It streamlined my priorities and I had to go back to the drawing board.

“No one prepares you for motherhood”, they say. That’s exactly true in context and literally. Motherhood humbled me! It changed my perspective on life and everything in my life.

Let me take you back, I prepared for motherhood, I read a lot of books, blogs and any literature I would come across like: What to expect when you're expecting, childbirth, Exercise while pregnant, what to eat and not eat while pregnant etc. I had three fancy apps that would predict the size of my growing child. I was very informed and attended all my antenatal classes and sessions. I was extremely ready to birth my child and luckily everything went well with his birth.

His birth changed my life.

You never know that you can love someone so much until you bring forth a life of your own. My heart literally bursts with joy every single day since the day of his birth. Though he is little, he is so mighty that he changed my entire life just like that. Every time I see him having so many firsts, I am reminded of this birth. Motherhood is very rewarding, the joy that comes with seeing your little one grow and become a person of their own is truly magical.

I now look at all mothers with so much respect and appreciation. I appreciate all the work they do to nurture the future generations. Motherhood cemented my love for my own mother. I see her through me. I am so lucky to have her in my life as I navigate this new mantle bestowed on me.

Dr. Faith carrying her son at 3 months postpartum

It is different having a baby abroad - you see when you are in Uganda or home (close to your family members), you can get all the help you need. Being in Australia, I don’t have that luxury. It is only the two of us, my husband and I. Knowing this fact, I had to establish routines for my baby and I. I know this is a very controversial topic but I managed to sleep train my baby and we operate on routine every day. A typical day for me starts around 6:30 am when I wake up, put on my work out clothes, and go for a 25-minute run around my neighborhood. When I return, I do my daily workout for another 30 minutes. By 7:30 am, just before my son wakes up, I have ticked the hardest thing to do off my to do list. I love having that 1 hour to myself as it helps me take care of my wellbeing and sets the tone for the day. Taking time to fill my cup allows me to have an overflow for my family and in everything I have to do. You may ask yourself, why do I work out for one hour? Honestly, you don’t need an hour to workout but I take one hour because I enjoy working out. Most times I have to record videos for the ladies I work with.

Despite having been in the best shape of my life before getting pregnant, I gained up to 25kg. By the time I gave birth, I was so gassed that I would lose all this weight before my son was 3 months. However, this didn't happen. When he was 4 months, I was actually weighing more than I weighed after I gave birth. I therefore changed my mindset and established a routine that works for me, and it has helped me drop the weight and get back to my pre-pregnancy state. Now, I encourage all mums to move their bodies, find activities they enjoy to do and not to think that after having a baby you should lose your identity and body goals. I educate mums, aspiring women and girls about fitness and taking care of their minds, bodies and souls.

Motherhood should be fun too!

Immediately after I gave birth, I established my support system. I have two mums here whose babies are in the same age range as my son. They form an immediate support system. We share ideas on different components of motherhood, from breastfeeding, sleep training, what to look out for when the baby is sick etc. My mothers (i.e., biological mum and mum in law), and my elder sister are strong support throughout this journey.

Motherhood has taught me a lot of things. I have learnt to be more patient, (not that I am an impatient person) but it has taught me to be patient. I recall my son didn't crawl until he was almost 9 months while my friend’s daughter crawled at 5 months and by 9 months she was walking. This bothered me so much but when I learnt that every child develops at his/her time, my son eventually crawled and now that he is 15 months, I am always running after him. I have grown in almost every aspect of my life. My priorities and values are now aligned. I know what's essential and non-negotiable to me. My family comes first in all aspects now.

I haven't talked about my career but I am a fully-fledged scientist with a PhD under my belt. As much as throughout my life, I love to plan, some things don't always go as planned. So my go to is always GOD. I seek His counsel and guidance. As the bible says, we plan but it is GOD to fulfil. The other thing is I have a very supportive husband, who has supported me all through everything. It is a great thing to have someone who believes in you. Even when you fall, they are always ready to pick you up.

One thing that every parent should know is “self-care is important.” Therefore, every parent should take care of themselves. Selfcare should be an intentional and thoughtful practice to harness their energy and make more intentional decisions. I have seen many mothers losing their identities, purpose and entire wellbeing after having babies. This should not be the norm. Taking care of yourself might seem like a mean and selfish thing to do but trust me it is not. You have to overflow before you can fill some other cups. Get all the help you can, move your body every day, learn to eat nutritious food, train your mind to believe in your capabilities and educate yourself on things you don't know.

About the author

Dr. Faith Elizabeth Mukwana is a mama to a little but mighty 15 months old baby boy. She is 15 months postpartum, a lover of all things healthy living. She is a wife to one handsome tall man. He supports all her big and small dreams. They live in Queensland, Australia and are originally from Uganda, the Pearl of Africa. She took time off her busy career as a virus research scientist to raise her son. Dr. Faith is a wellness enthusiast, she has helped many let go of crush diets, lose weight and keep it off for good through intuitive eating and mindset shift around food. She believes food is medicine and medicine is food. She believes that taking care of your mind, body and soul is the greatest asset you can ever have.

Dr. Faith is a born again Christian and Jesus is at the centre of all she does. She loves seeing women winning and her mission is to inspire as many women as she can to live healthy, have positive mindsets and go after all they want in life.

For anyone who might want any help losing weight and changing mindset around fitness, please visit her Instagram page @wellnessbyFaithLiz and her Facebook page.

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