Kareen Lai is a mum on a mission, to shape up the nation one mother at a time! Every mother has the right to live a fit, healthy & confident motherhood! Kareen founded Mums In Sync in 2013, which runs fitness and nutrition programmes to teach mothers how to love their bodies and get into tiptop shape to rock the world with renewed confidence. Besides being a mum to a pair of lovely twins, she is also wife to an army officer. Kareen is a highly qualified personal trainer who holds accreditations by both the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) and the American Council on Exercise (ACE). Being a certified Power Plate® Postnatal Specialist, Kareen developed the Core Connection Principles™ to help postnatal mothers heal adequately after delivery. She also created the Fit Mummy Workout programme, which incorporates “Burn.Flex.Eat” in a 90min session. As a mum who loves to whip up yummy treats for her twins, Kareen has a knack for easy and quick dishes that are palatable and nourishing to the body. She has since created at least 50 easy healthy recipes, which she shares with her network widely without reservations.
What inspired you to start Mums in Sync?
I was firstly inspired by my own transformation journey and would like to use my story to reach out to other mums to let them know that they can regain their identities and get into tip top shape even after having children! If celebrities & athletes’ stories are too unrealistic, listen to mine. I’m just like any other mum, with a pair of twins, a family to care for and work to see to. And it can be done our way!
And so I founded Mums In Sync in May 2013, with the purpose of providing a platform that allows mums to come together to support each other in the areas of health & fitness.
We are really taking baby steps to move towards that. For now, we run fitness & nutrition programmes that help mummies get into tip top shape. In fact, we specialize in helping mums who have twins (or more) restore their core safely and get back into shape.
I am passionate about the intersection between motherhood and the health of the nation. That a mum who is empowered with the right knowledge will naturally apply the same on her children. And together, we inevitably nurture the next generation of healthy eaters & active individuals!
Working towards Shaping Up the Nation One Mother At a Time!
How do you find balance in running your business, spending time with your family and personal time?
Incidentally, there is also a chapter in my book where I shared how mummies can have it all. I talk about the ‘Superwomen Myth’. There is no way any mummy can be a superwoman and do everything on her own. But we know that there are women out there who attempt to do so.
It will be most helpful to new mums if they can recognize that and reach out for help in her network in every way possible. Get everyone involved with the new addition to the family. Delegate jobs for Daddy to take up. Let him change and feed baby. Don’t get too uptight if he does not do it 100% right. Get your parents and siblings to babysit from time to time. Baby needs to get used to other babysitters before they start getting comfortable with them. That will buy you hours of time off in the future. It will also help you ease into work better when you know you know baby is in trusted care.
So I’d say learning how to prioritize and be focused on what you want to achieve is really important. And learn to recruit help and delegate work to others, so you can free up some time for yourself
What fitness and nutrition advice would you give expectant mummies?
I give the same fitness and nutrition advice to both expectant and non-expectant mums. That is they need to learn how to adequately manage the art of Eating Right, Moving Right and Thinking Right at different stages of motherhood. It does not mean that you can eat for 2 when you are pregnant. But do not worry too much about piling on weight and end up getting malnourished! Continue to eat a balanced diet and eat more of foods that are nutrient dense. Most women in Singapore are leading hectic lifestyles and it is easy to overlook on getting the right nutrients in a day when you are constantly eating out all the time. Most women think that they need to be really careful and ‘not move excessively’ when they are pregnant. On the contrary, if you take care of how you move, it can help to strengthen your pelvic floor and reduce the chances of facing incontinence issues postpartum.
And what fitness and nutrition advice would you give postnatal mummies trying to get back into shape?
In my book, ‘18 Again – Bringing Out the Sexy Fit Mummy in You’, I shared about how mummies can plan out smart and realistic strategies to make things for themselves. You have to identify why you need to achieve this goal so badly.
And I will say most of the time, it’s about recognizing that you need to firstly be well, strong and energized, in order for you to be there for your children.
Unfortunately most mummies think otherwise and they typically prioritize all their time, energy and effort for their children and family.
Start off with just 15 min a day, invest that time on your health and well-being. Get used to it, and increase to 30min, then to an hour. Take baby steps, there is no need to rush into things. And slowly but surely, you will be seeing successes on this journey!
Preparing healthy and yummy food for the kids require real effort. How can it be made easier for busy working mummies?
Like I mentioned earlier, mums/ parents need to really prioritize and be focused on what they want to achieve for not just themselves but the health of their families as a whole. The good thing is, it’s all inter-related. E.g. if you cook well for yourself, you will naturally cook well for your kids. We are not trying to promote the idea of only “preparing healthy and yummy food for the kids”.
In fact, I know a lot of mums who do that. They dedicate time to prepare the most nutritious meals for their kids. But they don’t eat the same. It’s insane!
Coming back to the topic, if mums are really so busy, I would say outsource the task or engage help. If you have no time to plan for recipes, get help from an online meals planning service/ program. If you have no time to cook, engage help from relatives, hire help or engage a good food provider. If you have no time to shop, outsource the job or choose online grocery shopping
Ultimately, it’s really about what you choose to prioritize. I think part of the joy in preparing food and cooking to feed the family (and yourself) well is that key ingredient called love. It’s going to be hard to outsource that.
From your experience with 2 kids, how can we instill in our kids good eating habits?
There is whole chapter in my book where I addressed this.
“Your Kids, Your Essential Tribe” … and I quote a section from this chapter:
“The truth is, everything that happened to your kids in the first decade of their lives has to do with you. There is a high chance that you decide what foods to put on the table. You decide what activities to sign them up for. You decide the kind of environment you want them to be exposed to and grow up in. Your kids form your tribe. What they do is simply follow the footsteps of the tribal leader and lean in to what the tribal leader has in store for them. Are you ready to be the tribal leader who leads your tribe to thrive?
It’s a relationship that goes both ways. As a tribal leader, your tribe does best when they model their behavior on your behavior and habits. Your kids take on the lifestyle that you dictate, ride on the activities that you undertake and follow suit with the habits you lean on. When you move well, they move well. When you eat well, they eat well too. When you have a positive outlook on life, they will grow up shining like gems.”
Ultimately, my take is that parents / mums are the biggest role models. Like it or not, instilling any habit starts from mum (& dad).
Learn more from Kareen Lai in her book: The 5 Key Habits to Kickstart your Mummy Fat Loss Journey, and her latest book: 18 Again, both available for download at http://mumsinsync.com.