Priorities of a Mother of 5: Thriving in Travel, Health, and Life!
Every now and again I come across a client that blows me away with their drive, commitment and determination towards a sustainable healthy lifestyle. That was the case with Andie. Andie and I worked together for a few months and what I witnessed often left me speechless. She was so committed to building a healthy lifestyle for herself and her family - I was in awe of every conversation we had. And the most endearing part, she's a mother of 5. You heard me... 5! All between the ages of 7-12.
Andie and I shared similar views on downsizing, living minimally, and spending funds on travel and experiences. I've worked with hundreds of mothers over the yeas, and I've never come across a mother who had similar lifestyle commitments ... and followed through! Her focus on prioritizing her family's health and happiness above all was nothing short of amazing. Her and her husband have taken their family of 7 to China, England, Italy, Egypt, and are currently en route to South Africa!
To say this lady is a modern day Wonder Woman is an understatement. I knew I needed to feature her on my platform with the hope to inspire other moms out there who have a hard time prioritizing health and happiness!
Full Name: Andie Eggimann
From: Minneapolis, USA
Please can you tell our readers a bit about yourself and your background?
I’m Andie. I love travel and art and I have a pretty busy family life. My husband and I added 5 kids to our family through birth and adoption within the first 10 years of our marriage! Once the dust settled from the constant transitioning, we decided that we wanted a different life than the fancy neighbourhood with the 5 bedroom house. So, about two years ago, we started the process of selling the big house, moved to a much more affordable townhouse and started traveling with our kids several times a year. We have tried to put things into place to help our family thrive in mind and body. What that looks like has changed over time, but healthy habits are an important priority we are always investing in.
That's amazing! And what factors in particular have led to you wanting to take control of your health and make that a priority?
I have gone through phases where I intensely cared about my health and times where I lost momentum. But in recent years, my motivation has come from the stress of being an adoptive and special needs mom. Honestly, I’m sort of a rebel at heart and I just didn’t want to give in to what seemed like the inevitable weight gain, chronic exhaustion, and stressed-out life that I have seen a lot of adoptive parents succumb to (myself included). I didn’t want that to be my story.
Practically speaking, how do you possibly manage a healthy lifestyle and being a mother of 5? What does a typical day look like for you?
It has truly been a process for me. In the past I have struggled with extremes. Either I was eating on a strict diet, very skinny and fit or I was living on cheese, wine and protein shakes! Finding a healthy sustainable balance is new for me.
Now, I have learned that I need a framework for what I want to accomplish in a week, rather than on a particular day. Pursuing healthy habits on a weekly basis (rather than daily) has helped me tremendously... because sometimes it’s a gym day and you have a kid home sick. Knowing that I will get to all of my goals at some point in the week has helped to alleviate the pressure of every day being perfect.
There is definitely no typical day because there is always something odd coming up. I look at my life as a weekly rhythm now and make sure that I get my different workouts in at some point and eat healthy for the majority of my meals. Having a seize the day type of mentality works for me.
If I have 30 minutes in between family chaos, I can get in a 2 mile run/walk HIIT workout. If I have a day where everyone is at school, I make myself go to the gym and get my weight training done - because you never know what is going to come up the next day. To eat healthy - simplicity and repetition is key for me. I cook enough of a protein to use for several meals, I eat whole grain cereal and berries or a smoothie for breakfast, or I cook up a quick sautéed veggie with an egg for a snack.
Being healthy is truly the groundwork for being able to do this life well. When I neglect it, I am not the person I want to be.
Are there any practical tips you can give to mothers out there that struggle with prioritizing a healthy lifestyle?
I’m sure you have heard this, but if you are drowning you cannot help anyone else! I think a lot of mothers run themselves into the ground because they think that is the way to love their people. But what your family needs is you, whole and thriving. Find what you love and do it. Make space in your family schedule for your health, passions, and the things you love.
I find that a lot of families are stuck on the bigger, better, faster train that is prevalent in Western culture. Without even knowing it, all the money/time goes to keeping up with some sort of perceived good life. You do not have to let your kids do what “all the other kids are doing” at the expense of yourself. Children will benefit from seeing you make time to be healthy. Our world is stressful, so you are actually loving your children by showing them that a good way to deal with stress is to exercise and get some fresh air. They will take this with them to adulthood.
Wow, this is powerful! Can you share with our readers and example of how your healthy lifestyle has positively influenced your children?
I have noticed that my older kids are placing a greater priority on self-care when they start to get stressed. They will choose a walk or a bike ride to clear their heads or they will get a big glass of water when they feel grouchy. I love watching the kids make positive choices with eating, too. Recently, when I have made myself a healthy meal or snack, they will ask if they can have some. I am always pleasantly surprised when my kids ask for some of my sautéed kale, roasted sweet potatoes or when they fight over the avocados!
That's so awesome! How about when things get really busy (as I imagine they do) how do you get yourself back on track health wise? Or what advice would you give to a mother who has fallen completely off the health wagon.
First, don’t beat yourself up and don’t focus solely on some end goal or jean size. Focus on what you need to feel good today. For me, I have to tune into my body and notice the inevitable signs of bad habits building up. My back hurts, I get headaches, have gut pain, and emotionally have a short fuse. These are all signs that I need to drink more water, eat some veggies and move my body. (I seriously just walked into my kitchen and got a glass of water because it’s 11 am and I haven’t had any yet today!)
Recognizing that this is a process and perfection is not required has helped me tremendously.
What are the ways in which you practically manage stress?
Exercise and fresh air do wonders for me, especially when paired with an interesting podcast. Also, travel is a crucial part of stress-management for me. We rearranged our lives and finances so that travel can be a major part of our reality. Planning trips brings me joy during the long, dark winter months here in the north. Going on those trips provides bonding, memories and highlights for us to hang onto when family life is tough.
What are some of the hardest challenges you face with your journey, and how do you acknowledge and overcome the excuses?
If we let them, the specialist appointments and the special education meetings could completely take over our lives, not to mention the needs of the other 3 kids! Because we will be parenting a couple of our kids for the long-haul, we work hard to put into place life-giving habits that can carry us for the longterm. If we are not healthy in our bodies and our minds, it negatively affects everything. I would say the two excuses that prevent me for making time for health are feeling too tired or feeling too busy. Regarding tiredness, I remind myself that exercise actually helps and brings up my overall energy levels. If I am feeling too busy, it is usually because I am prioritizing other responsibilities as more important than my health. However, when I don’t make time for my health, I quickly become grouchy and in pain, which short-circuits the good I am trying to do. Being healthy is truly the groundwork for being able to do this life well. When I neglect it, I am not the person I want to be.
Is there anything I've missed, or any last pieces of advice that you'd like to communicate to my readers?
Last week, I looked at my skinny-me photos and I cried. I felt like I had failed somehow by not being able to indefinitely keep up the intense lifestyle that made me look like that. I’m also in process here! However, working out for 10 hours a week and eating boring food with a never-ending goal of even-smaller jeans is simply not the way I want to spend my one precious life. There is a different, more whole, and beautiful way to live. It includes embracing your shape, getting your eyes off yourself, and choosing to invest in your health so you can make a positive impact in the world. That is the kind of health journey that will leave our hearts whole and leave us with beauty to share.