This week on the Sunflower Zone Blog we are speaking with Shakira Akabusi, new Mother, founder of The Natural Health Company and daughter of former Olympian Kriss Akabusi. Hello Shakira, welcome to the Sunflower Zone – Welcoming New Life.
PLEASE TELL US ABOUT THE NEW LIFE THAT HAS RECENTLY JOINED YOU?
My Son is called Rio Martin and he was born on the 31st of December 2014. We chose the name Rio, as Rio de Janeiro means ‘River of January’, and my due date was January 15th but Rio decided to come and join us a little early on New Years Eve! He’s absolutely amazing (obviously I’m biased) and already starting to have a really big personality, which I love. Our speciality is music. We jam together everyday!
WHAT IS YOUR TYPICAL DAY LIKE?
My weekdays differ greatly from my weekends. During the week I usually try to start my day by 7am with waking and feeding Rio. He will have about three naps a day, during the morning nap I prepare and eat my breakfast. In the afternoon I go out for a long walk with Rio and our chocolate Labrador Hugo, and in the late afternoon nap I sit down and reply to any emails or prepare dinner. During the weekend I have a little more freedom as my husband is home for the day. I always make sure I can get to the gym at least twice and also do a big food shop so we have everything we need for the week!
WHAT DOES MOTHERHOOD MEAN TO YOU?
Motherhood is an honour. I am so appreciative of the fact that I was able to conceive quickly and that my pregnancy and labour went smoothly. There are definitely challenges that come with the role and I have to work really hard at maintaining a sense of myself. It would be so easy to get completely wrapped up in my baby and forget what else I enjoyed before he was born. I think that is actually really dangerous as ultimately our children will grow up to lead their own lives and we can’t expect them to live for us.
WHAT WERE THE 3 MOST IMPORTANT THINGS TO YOU DURING YOUR PREGNANCY?
1) My family and friends. There were times when it was really tough, especially the morning sickness in the first three months and my family and friends really helped get me through this. My husband was so patient and when he was at work my mum would cook for me a lot. My friends were also so understanding and came to visit me with little gifts to keep my mind off the sickness.
2) Carbohydrates! I ate a lot during my pregnancy and also had tons of water. Your body is using a lot of extra energy so you need to keep fuelling your system.
3) Exercise. When the sickness started to wear off I made sure to exercise every day. Some days that was just a walk with the dog but other days it meant going to the gym and doing some resistance training or swimming. I’m a personal trainer and class instructor and I continued teaching throughout my pregnancy so my fitness levels were quite high.
IF YOU COULD INVENT A ‘MAGICAL’ MATERNITY PRODUCT THAT WOULD BE PRACTICAL AND USEFUL FOR MOTHERS/MOTHER’S TO BE, WHAT WOULD IT BE? (Let your imagination run wild!)
Maybe a small chip that you can swallow when you’re pregnant which would go through your system and reach the baby so you can watch them grow and make sure everything is going ok throughout the pregnancy. I always worried so much between scans!
YOU RETURNED TO YOUR PRE-PREGNANCY PHYSIQUE 8 WEEKS AFTER GIVING BIRTH, PLEASE SHARE WITH US HOW YOU ACHIEVED THIS AND HOW YOU MAINTAIN IT?
First and foremost it was my diet! I’m sure lots of women had the same feeling of jubilation that I did after labour. I was ecstatic to become a mother but I was also so relieved I had done labour! I felt on top of the world and so wanted to celebrate by eating everything I could. I hadn’t been craving sweets or cake or chocolate in pregnancy so I really wanted to just spend days eating it all again but I didn’t. It took a lot of restraint but regaining my figure was important to me. I also avoided alcohol and still do for the most part.
In terms of exercise I started working on gentle pelvic floor exercises the day after I gave birth and eventually progressed to working on full abdominal exercises. I started walking the second day I got home from the hospital and went on my first run after just two weeks. It was slow and I didn’t get far but it was vital!
I built up from there really. I started to hit the gym after about a month with really light weights and when I couldn’t get out of the house I just used the small amount of time available to me to work on body-weight exercises (press ups, sit-ups, tricep dips etc). You have to get creative too. Make everyday chores into exercise e.g. hoovering or gardening, even when washing the dishes you can work on your pelvic floor exercises!
YOU ARE FOUNDER OF THE NATURAL HEALTH COMPANY IN HAMPSHIRE U.K, TELL US ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS?
My company is based in Hampshire. I moved from London just over a year ago to be in the countryside. I love fresh air and small villages. London was great when I was younger but I prefer a slower pace of life nowadays.
As for my company it originated as personal training. I was training all sorts of people including Mothers and mothers-to-be, and teaching various classes as well as offering a nutritional service where I tailored diet plans to specific needs. Just before my pregnancy I also started to go down the route of becoming a fitness commentator/journalist and writing articles for various magazines and online websites. This is definitely an area I would like to explore and build on, as it’s possible to reach so many people with an article. I am really passionate about spreading the message of maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
FINALLY, PLEASE SHARE WITH OUR READERS SOME WORDS OF WISDOM ON PREGNANCY AND NEW MOTHERHOOD?
I think the main thing I have learnt in the last 9 weeks is that there are absolutely NO RULES! Even health professionals seem to be divided on almost everything. One Health Visitor tells you one thing and another something else. You have to use your instinct. And if you have a concern AVOID SEARCH ENGINES. If you’re worried either go to an internet source you trust or a person you have complete faith in. Don’t just search at random. There are always horror stories and it can really get you panicked!
Visit The Natural Health Company at http://www.thenaturalhealthco.com
Twitter & Instagram: @donaturalhealth