Above photo of Maya Henry by Laura Petrilla.
When Emily Fisher prepared for a week at the beach with her family, she packed everything her family needed — but failed to pack a single swimsuit for herself.
“I had all the sunscreen and hats and probably three pairs of swim shorts for my son, but nothing for me to swim in,” she says.
Emily, who teaches full-time, felt she was a good wife to her husband and a wonderful mom to their two kids, but she wasn’t always so good to herself.
Like when she would buy fresh fruit for her kids, but rarely ate it herself.
“Sometimes when I ate it, I wondered why I didn’t do that more often,” she says. “Why can’t I have healthy food, too? The answer is because I wasn’t including myself on the list of people I was caring for.”
So many moms can relate.
When Emily found Maya Henry’s self-improvement program, Healthy Moms First, which teaches women to give giving themselves permission to experience self-love, Emily was all in.
“I have known Maya for over 20 years, and I’ve never done a program like this before, but I was confident that she would be a good coach for me to make some changes,” Emily says.
Maya is a certified health coach, culinary nutrition expert, Lamaze-certified childbirth educator and mom to two sons, ages 6 and 2. She describes her Healthy Moms First program as an “8-week roadmap to increased energy, more time and less stress.”
What does a healthy lifestyle coach do for busy women that they can’t do for themselves?
“Making this commitment forces you to slow down and put yourself first,” says Maya, who lives in East Liberty. “Most women want to change, but they are too busy to think about the how and figure out what to do. I give them the steps to follow, and they get the support and accountability of having someone in their corner completely devoted to their success.”
For example, her “Rapid Reset for Busy Moms” promises “45 minutes to feeling more motivated and energetic.”
“The first step is always figuring out why you want to make a change,” Maya says. “That’s different for everyone, and I use a process to uncover the deeper desire for change.”
Client Johanna Collins of Garfield has five kids ranging in age from 9 to 17. Besides caring for her large family, Johanna works about 20 hours a week cleaning houses, a job that she aims to expand into a cooperative business.
“As my vision to expand my work grew and as our family life became more full and active, I realized that there were issues of health and wellness in my own life that I needed to address,” she says. “I knew that the health of my family and business would improve as my own health and well-being grew.”
After participating in Maya’s eight-week program, she says, “one of the biggest things I took away was a gentle lesson that I carry in me to this day, to slow down and to be mindful.”
For example, when Johanna reaches for a snack, she pauses to plate her treat, pour a cup of tea and sit for a few minutes to savor the gift of a break in her day.
“In these small moments, I am flooded with a sense of self-awareness, given an opportunity to acknowledge my gratefulness and I’m even able to move toward acceptance and peace with the things in my life that feel difficult or distressing for me,” she says.
Among the complaints Maya hears most from women is that they can’t do it all.
“They don’t have time or make time for themselves. They know what to do but just aren’t doing it,” she says. “Because they are so overwhelmed, they don’t have the energy to make healthy choices, even though they may have the desire.”
To that end, the Healthy Moms First program includes a cooking component. The family meal plan includes recipes, grocery list and a prep list to cook five days’ worth of food in about two hours.
Emily found the meal plans to be a big help by saving money shopping for specific items and lessening meal-planning anxiety.
“Some days my entire ride home was spent thinking ‘oh, maybe we could have … But do we have?’ And I didn’t realize how mentally taxing that was until it was gone from my life,” Emily says.
That’s the idea behind the program. The most important thing a woman should do for herself when she is feeling stressed, tired and overwhelmed, Maya says, is to take a few deep breaths and ask herself what she needs in that moment.
As a busy mom, it is all about grabbing those extra moments and utilizing them to the fullest.