The important reason you need to fill your own cup first

As every mother knows, motherhood is a journey that no one really prepares you for. It is a love so selfless, so caring, and unconditional that often mothers put themselves last and don’t take care of themselves. When we do that, we lose who we are and our whole family can suffer. The joys of motherhood and the challenges of motherhood are immense – the highest of highs, mixed in with the lowest of lows. It truly is the hardest job in the world. In the latest issue of Women’s Voice magazine, Registered Dietitian Karlene Karst talks about the work-life balance and how she has learned to fill her own cup with patience, without forgetting to nurture herself so she could be the best mom she could be, while still being herself. Below are Karlene’s steps to achieving your best health.


The practice of gratitude is a powerful one. The benefits of being thankful and showing appreciation and kindness

are nearly endless. When we are on our journey to improve our health or enhance certain aspects of our lives, we tend to focus on what isn’t right, or why we aren’t feeling good. This can leave a person feeling a little down or negative. Instead of focusing on what’s not good, focus on the one or more components of your life that you are grateful for. Then, step it up a notch. Try a 30-day gratitude challenge, during which you write down three things each day that you are grateful for. Keep a journal that lists these blessings, big and small, being sure to note your thoughts and feelings as you go. I think you’ll find it interesting to see how your mood, energy, and outlook on life are shifted and shaped by gratitude.


Mindfulness is a practice whereby you learn to focus on things happening in the present moment; the sounds, smells, and thoughts going through your mind. These are not to be judged, only acknowledged. When we start to turn inward in this way, it has been shown to relieve pain, illness, and stress. Even when eating dinner with family, try the act of mindfully sitting down, enjoying your food, and listening to the chatter of family; taking the time to notice the different tastes, smells, and flavours. This will improve digestion and nutrient absorption. It promotes gut health and the release of serotonin, a feel-good hormone. All in all, mindfulness promotes a decrease in stress and, with that, enhanced enjoyment of life.


What you put in your body every single day influences how you feel. It really is impossible to talk about health without zeroing in on food first. Food is power. Food is fuel. Food is health. And to truly improve your health, you need to make better food choices. Of course, keeping track of what to eat and what not to eat – it can feel overwhelming at times, especially at the beginning of a new regimen. To keep it simple “I recommend focusing on just three nutrient groups: protein, good fat, and fibre” says Karlene. Making it extra easy, many of the foods in the protein and fat categories also contain fibre.


We often associate protein with its power to build lean muscles. And yes, it is important for that, but the benefits may be much greater than you imagined.

Protein is important for

  • Boosting metabolism
  • Balancing blood sugar
  • Nourishing adrenal glands
  • Supporting the immune system
  • Building and repairing tissue
  • Producing hormones
  • Improving mood
  • Increasing energy

The other misconception about protein is that it must come from meat. Yes, lean meat is a great source of protein, but there are many other sources including:

  • Eggs (choose free-range and organic)
  • Nut butters and nut milks
  • Dairy (full-fat is best, including Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, and goat cheese)
  • Legumes and beans (lentils, chick and green peas, black beans, kidney and pinto beans)
  • Ancient grains (such as quinoa, amaranth, spelt, and teff)
  • Protein powders are also an easy way to boost protein intake

Good Fats

Good fats are essential nutrients that our body can’t make, but definitely need. These fats nourish joints, muscles, hair, skin, nails, the gut, the brain, the nervous system, the retina of the eye, and more. Each time you eat, choose from the following good fats:

  • Avocado
  • Olives
  • Coconut oil
  • Fatty, cold-water fish (the best sources include wild Alaskan salmon, mackerel, sardines, herring, black cod)
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Nuts (cashews, walnuts, and almonds)
  • Seeds (flax, chia, hemp) In addition, I recommend supplementing with 1500 mg of EPA and DHA each day. These are the two most important omega-3s for health.

Try mixing up these ingredients in your blender for the perfect breakfast smoothie:

  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • Handful spinach and kale
  • 1/2 CUP frozen pineapple chunks 
  • 1 scoop protein (vanilla)
  • 1 tsp hemp seeds 
  • 1 tsp  Omega 3

Fill Your Own Cup First

As the friendly flight attendants remind us, in case of emergency, we’re to secure our own oxygen masks before attending to others. Fill your own cup in ways that refresh and renew you so that you always have plenty of energy and passion with which to care for your family. A coffee date with a friend. Date night with your spouse. Perhaps a yoga class on a Saturday morning. It does not matter what activity you choose, so long as you can feel the good it is doing for you. Everyone in your family will reap the benefits of you being healthier and happier.

Set Boundaries. Learn to Say “No”

“This was something I came late to; I just started working on it this year. I had to learn how to avoid overcommitting myself” says Karlene. “By learning the art of politely, but firmly saying “no” when I don’t have the time or the interest to take on a task, I have improved my own life and helped our entire household find more balance as a family” she continues. But it’s not just about commitments. Another boundary is with electronic devices. Turn off your cell phones, shut down the Wi-Fi in the house and give your whole family a chance for their brains to relax.