I’ve always known special needs mothers were amazing, but macro coaching with Stay Fit Mom has opened my eyes to a whole new world of appreciation. Social Media has it’s vices for sure, but one of my favorite things is the raw vulnerability and honesty I see coming from so many mothers today. Gone are the days of mothers (at least the mother’s I’m willing to follow) portraying a picture perfect life. Stay Fit Mom represents a community of women willing to share the wonderful AND the hard.
I know our program is dynamite, but when women write in and ask if they can “easily” incorporate our program into their lifestyle, I always respond with caution. Why? Because I know that it takes a level of serious commitment.
Yet our special needs moms, of which I think have some of the most strenuous task list of all our clients, not only survive but THRIVE in our program. In fact, they are some of the most consistent clients with mind blowing transformations! After seeing this pattern again and again, I decided it was time to dig a little deeper and interview a handful of these mamas. I wanted to give you a glimpse into a life filled with love, sacrifice, hope, perseverance, patience and determination. These women, many of which were once strangers, have become not only my friends but my role models, and I’d like you to see why.
How does macro counting fit into your daily life when you’re juggling so much, and why do you believe you not only survive but thrive living the macro life?
Consistency is something a special cares kiddo NEEDS, but their day to day hardly ever looks the same. All children thrive with routine, and special care kiddos, at least in our world, need the consistency because developmentally it takes more (literally thousands more) repetitions to train their little bodies and minds into a natural muscle memory than it would a typically functioning babe. The more consistency we have as their parents, the more consistency they receive. Children rely on us to set their routines and build sustainable habits, while special care kiddos literally need us to create it for them.
Macro counting fits because you aren’t restricting/excluding anything or putting certain foods onto pedestals. Everywhere you turn people and advertisements are telling you ‘Do this! Don’t do that! This will ruin your progress! Add this to your day! Don’t have any salt/dairy/soy/gluten! Add more fat! Go fat free!’ With tracking macros you can finally stop viewing foods as “good” vs “bad” and you can actually look at everything as fuel in one way or another. Most days we don’t know what tomorrow will look like and the fact that, if need be, I can grab something in a drive thru on the way home from an appointment or during an ER visit you can walk into a hospital cafeteria and know that there is ONE THING that is still within your control in that moment, it allows you to feel grounded. You can make your kids favorite meals and pop the recipe into your tracker without skipping a beat. You don’t have to sit at the table and not have the same thing the rest of your family is having. Most of us have kiddos on special nutrition plans or a unique care process to allow for food intake, so us being able to eat what the rest of the family is eating, lessening the stress of another “special” meal that needs to be made makes all the difference at meal time.
I believe macro counting works because like I said earlier our world is required to run on a routine. Fueling your body properly and feeling what it’s like to have your body working at a higher level makes the extra time to track worth it. We don’t have the luxury of having down time (what mom does) and feeling run down makes everything about life harder. Regardless of how many services our kiddos receive with their therapists, giving them the best opportunity to thrive comes down to us doing the therapy day in and day out as part of their normal routine. Our kids are only going to keep getting bigger so it’s up to us to get stronger. Macros allow us to fuel our bodies to perform optimally. – Charmayne
I feel like every day is mass chaos in our home. My son has hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, Noonan Syndrome, an intellectual disability which puts my 4 year old at a 1 year old mental ability and he has level 3 Autism (the most severe). I also have a 6 year old and a 15 month old. I eat when I can and I eat what I can find. Oftentimes its sticking something in my mouth that is fast and easy to make my stomach stop rumbling. I am always severely under-eating my protein and overeating my fats and carbs. When I have my macro prescription it makes me a priority as well as my children. I make the time to prep, weigh and input my numbers and I have more energy in the day to keep up with my kids. I keep my hunger under control and I feel better which makes me a better mom. As a special needs mom it is easy to throw yourself into your children and let yourself fall to the wayside. With macros in my daily life I remember to take care of me.– Rachel
I think the reason you see a good amount of success in that subset of moms is because we’re killer advocates. I think all moms are honestly but as mom with a kiddo with different needs it requires a bit of different hoop jumping. Hearing aids cost a couple thousand dollars a pair (insurance considers them nonessential so that’s out of pocket) and my kid literally tries to eat them so thankfully I filled out an obscene amount of paper work to get a grant to cover his first set. I call insurance companies to argue for an MRIs and genetic testing. There’s just more extra stuff to tussle with. So when you tell someone like me to advocate for myself and I actually take the time to do it then I can slay it because while I’m usually using that energy towards my kids or patients if you give me permission to focus it on myself it’s pretty rewarding. – Melissa
My son had a routine hernia operation 4 years ago that resulted in severe nerve damage. My daily life over the past 4 years has been focused on my son and trying to find an answer to relieve his pain. He is now 19 and attending the local college part time and we live day to day. It was a month ago that he and I both started therapy (separately) and I decided to start making myself a priority again. That’s when I was introduced to macros and your program. I’m only in my 5th week, but the program is working, and I feel like I’ve gained some control over my life again. Before macros, I was eating what I had on hand that was quick and easy. I never put much effort into dinners because I was always too tired or stressed to care. I stress ate A LOT and never really thought about what I was eating. Carbs were certainly my best friend. It’s taken me awhile to get used to tracking and eating differently but having a plan and the numbers I need to hit has made me focus on what I’m putting in my mouth and eating to fuel and feel good as opposed to eating to just eat.- Tricia
I have a non verbal 2.5yr old with sensory processing disorder. He is on the wait list to get screened for autism (he’s high risk). If you don’t make your physical and mental health a priority, just like you make ALL of your children. You will struggle. Trying to take care of a special needs child is a LOT of work and if you need to make sure your body and brain and fueled properly for each day. Also showing your children that you take care for yourself and have a set routine teaches them this as well. Unfortunately with special needs children, there is no such thing as a standard day. What happens on a Monday could fail on a Tuesday so you have to fly by the seat of your pants and be prepared to change the plan at a moments notice. It’s almost perfect that macros is all about planning because you know exactly what to do. I thrive on this way of live because it lessens my migraines, it makes my overall moods better, it keeps me in a routine and it does not limit what I’m able to eat. No restrictions. I mean what better could you ask for? – Cris
My son was born at 28 weeks gestation, he has been fighting since the day he was born. He has had 14 major surgeries, hundreds of procedures and more hospitalizations than I can count. I have had to learn about central lines, IV pumps, g-tubes, feeding pumps, ostomy bags, wheelchairs…you get the picture.
A few years ago one of his doctors sat me down and told me we had a long road ahead of us, if I didn’t start taking better care of myself there is no way I would be able to take care of him. That was what all I needed to hear. It took me some time to feel comfortable enough to leave him and go to the gym, it was a process. I forced myself to go and realized I felt calmer, more patient and refreshed after a workout. Soon my son was pushing me out the door because the mom that came home was happier.
Then I started researching macros…I found you guys and I began working to unlearn all I thought I knew about food and about diets. I released the guilt and shame and took control with the help of a patient coach and a bunch of other awesome women who were working to achieve their goals.
As a special needs mom I’m often the last on the list…I think that’s true for ALL moms. We all wear many hats, mine just happen to also include nurse, advocate, insurance “specialist” and complex care coordinator.
Counting macros actually makes my day easier. I have a plan…a map. It takes the guesswork out of eating and gives me control over my food and my goals. I don’t have control over much in my life so this is a gift. -Jessica
For me it is always plan ahead and have a backup plan. This last week we had all our medical devices and their backups fail. Which for us meant we had to go back to the “dark ages” as we call it with no technology. Which meant no consistent sleep because we were up all all hours checking him. I was lucky that I already had my macros set for the next few days and the food was already good to go. There may be days too when it doesn’t work where you have a plan because as been a few days and you are out of your go tos, but it also means having grace with yourself. You do the best that you can and if it doesn’t work out you do the best you can and get back on track when you can. But after gaining 25 lbs in 5 years since my sons diagnosis I have learned that him having a non curable disease is not an excuse to not take of myself and put the work in. A happy mama is a better mama for the whole family. – Megan
All moms juggle a lot, but having a kid with special needs just adds an extra level to the game of parenting. One of the reasons I think macro counting works for me is that is it something that I can control in a life that is often unpredictable.
My daughter has autism which means I am always trying to predict what is going to happen to help set her expectations. Transitions and change are VERY hard for her, so I try to help manage those the best that I can to help her get through the day. It often feels like the world is coming at her…noises can be louder, lights can seem brighter, people can don’t always follow the “rules” and that adds additional confusion and stress, When I can help her to adapt and overcome those challenges, she is more successful and overall feels better in her own skin.
Counting macros gives me something that I can 100% control. I plan my day and as long as I make the conscious decision to follow the plan and stay the course, I don’t need to change or try to predict what I need to eat next. I just do it, because it’s in the plan. That said, if I do get off course, all my practice with adjusting for her, gives me the ability to adjust and make changes to do my best to get those numbers back in check. When I was growing up and things in my life would get chaotic or hard my mom’s advice was always, “control the controllables.” That’s how I feel about counting macros…it’s my controllable.
Counting macros and getting a workout in is also something that I do for me. I make it a priority (which can sometimes be challenging) because I know that that that I NEED that self care to survive and be a good mom. If I feel good and my body is fueled correctly, I have more energy and patience to deal with whatever the day might bring. The part that’s hardest to talk about is how important it is that I take care of my health so that I can be there for my daughter. It is our hope that she will someday be able to have some level of independence, but I suspect that will come later in life for her than it will for my other children. I want to be around to support her and help her live her best life for as long as I can and staying fit and healthy is a big part of that.- Deana
What words would you share with moms who might learn their their child has a special needs diagnosis?
Trust your gut. You know your child better than any doctor or therapist or diagnosis. YOU are their voice. At the end of the day good may not be good enough. Use your voice and don’t be afraid to ask for another opinion or question a doctors recommendation or medication suggestion. Your care team should be very clear about wanting what’s best for your babe AND your family unit, if they don’t, seek out a better care team. We have been blessed since day one with a great care team, but we have also not held our tongues when voicing our concerns about getting more infant specialized therapies into our routine, even if it meant driving the 3+ hours one way to have her seen. The best advice our neurologist gave us is “if there is an opportunity out there somewhere in the world to help your daughter become a better version of who she is now & you can’t go to it, you BECOME it…” and thee best advice we have ever gotten was from the neonatologist that saved Taylor and pushed for more intense testing from the beginning “now it’s time for you to take her home and love her”. It’s true…you may need time to ‘mourn’ the loss of the child that you anticipated being of typical function and development but don’t let a grey cloud darken the star that is your perfect child. The sooner you embrace the diagnosis and work with your babe’s care team to present every opportunity to thrive, the more blessings you will both be filled with. – Charmayne
To other Mamas who may find yourself where I am…look for pockets of joy in every day. Focus on every victory, no matter how small, and hold on to your loves. And remember that self care is not selfish. – Jessica
For me, with every new diagnosis my son would get I would need time to grieve. The life I wanted for him that seemed further and further away. The way I handle my grief is to eat my feelings. I feel like once that starts it’s a never ending spiral of putting your children first and yourself last and not caring about what you put into your body, just caring about what you can get into theirs and making sure they are getting what they need. My macro coach held me accountable to make myself a priority. She cares about me and what’s going on in my life and understands what I need. Having someone who cares like that and helps motivate me to keep at it is something every mom needs, especially a special needs mom. – Rachel
What would you say to other mothers that don’t have special needs children themselves but want to know how to best support their friends who do?
Keep extending invitations to events and social gatherings and continue to ask us to do life with you! We might not be able to attend, but invite us anyways. Share about your life. Never dim your own light to us for any reason, but especially in fear of saying something that makes us think about the “what’s ifs” regarding us & the life we have because I promise we have already been through those scenarios a million times in our own heads and because no matter how HARD it is, we are thee most blessed mamas that get to raise the purest humans and at the end of the day we want you to know that through the chaos that is our life we are also here for you. Don’t think that anything or burden you are carrying is going to be too heavy for us to help you through. Also, for the love please stop saying “I don’t know how you do it” because honestly we don’t know either… and if you think “I could never go through what you’ve went through” or “I could never do what you do every day” trust me again, if we switched places, you, in fact, would get through to the other side and be okay… it would be your normal and you would certainly be able. – Charmayne
We hope you enjoyed gleaming into these amazing women’s lives as much as we have. They are truly remarkable advocates both for children and for themselves!
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