The YOGI M.D. Podcast

Dr. Orlena Kerek’s Health Advice for Mothers

Episode Summary

Dr. Orlena Kerek was a pediatrician in the UK, until she and her family moved to Spain. After she left medicine, she pivoted to teaching professional mothers how to adopt healthy habits for sustainable weight loss. We talked about how Orlena discovered how to truly take responsibility for her self care, the importance of healthy habits, how those habits influence our children, why mothers have a hard time prioritizing their self care, advice for busy moms to keep their kids healthy, and much more.

Episode Notes

Dr Orlena Kerek trained as a pediatric doctor in the UK. In 2011 she moved to Spain with her husband and 2 young kids. To cut a long story short, she "accidentally lost" her medical career and turned to the internet to keep herself busy (initially as an outlet from parenting.)

She started off helping parents of picky eaters teach their children healthy eating habits.The loss of her career (or self identity) combined with parenting 4 young children (twins came along in 2012) led to an inner emotional turmoil. When she looked at herself, she didn't see the happy joyous mother she aspired to be. When her husband became unwell, she realized that they both needed to prioritize self care.

In the last few years, she has pivoted to teaching frustrated professional mothers to lose weight by leading a healthy life so they can feel fit and fabulous. The 4 pillars of self care that she teaches are nutrition, exercise, sleep and emotional wellness.She draws from her own experiences (still walking the trenches of parenting!) as well as the latest scientific research and thinking.

 

In this episode, Dr. Orlena and I talk about:

Her transition from practicing pediatrician to helping professional mothers adopt a healthy lifestyle.

How she found joy and discovered how to truly take responsibility for her self care.

The importance of healthy habits.

Why mothers have a hard time prioritizing their self care.

How we can create our ideal life.

How an established routine of personal self care benefits you and by extension, teaches your children to prioritize self care.

Advice for busy moms to keep their kids healthy.

And much more…


Where to Find Dr. Orlena:

Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/drorlena/

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/drorlenafabulous

Facebook parenting page: https://www.facebook.com/SnottyNosesHealthyKids/

IG: https://www.instagram.com/dr_orlena/

Website: https://www.drorlena.com/

My healthy meal plan (free gift) https://www.drorlena.com/healthy-family-meal-plan

Podcast is Fit and Fabulous at 40 and Beyond: https://www.drorlena.com/blog/index-of-podcasts-and-blog-posts 


The Mindful Minute -

“Look at the word responsibility—“response-ability”—the ability to choose your response. Highly proactive people recognize that responsibility. They do not blame circumstances, conditions, or conditioning for their behavior. Their behavior is a product of their own conscious choice, based on values, rather than a product of their conditions, based on feeling.”

- Stephen Covey, “The 7 habits of Highly Effective People.”

Episode Transcription

YOGI MD  

Welcome to the YOGI MD podcast. It's Nadine, yoga teacher, health coach and retired doctor, here to bring you and your body together, not in sickness, but in health. Thanks for taking this time for yourself. Dr. Orlena Kerek was a pediatrician in the UK until she in her family moved to Spain. After she left medicine, she pivoted to teaching professional mothers how to adopt healthy habits for sustainable weight loss.

 

In this episode, we talked about how Orlena discovered how to take responsibility for her self care, the importance of healthy habits, how those habits influence our children, why mothers have a hard time prioritizing their self care, advice for busy moms to keep their kids healthy, and much more. Please enjoy the episode. Hello Orlena Kerekk, Dr. Orlena Kerek. How are you today?

 

Dr. Orlena  

Hello, I am very well thank you for asking.

 

YOGI MD  

I'm so happy that you're here with us today. Can you please tell us about yourself so that we have the pleasure of getting to know you?

 

Dr. Orlena  

I am from the UK as you may hear from my accent, and I trained as a doctor and I trained in pediatrics. So I was being a pediatric doctor, and I've always had this dream that I wanted to live and work abroad. And so in 2011, I, what do I say, jumped deep in with my eyes wide shut and we moved to Spain. And I say that because I had this great idea that I would just carry on my career and work as a doctor in Spain. And I have to confess at the time I didn't speak Spanish. I definitely didn't know that in Catalonia. Most people speak Catalan and not Spanish.

 

But definitely my eyes wide shut. So I moved, and I had two young children, and then subsequently had twins, so in total for young children. I'd given myself a year to, you know, get my feet on the ground, but I still really wanted to be a doctor. And while this was all happening, a very long story that essentially I didn't really continue my career in Spain, but I turned to do things online. And I had no idea about blogging. I had no idea about how the internet worked, social media, any of it. But what I started off doing was a little bit about kids health, and this developed a bit into healthy eating and picky eating. I strangely had two picky eaters out of my four and you know, when I was a doctor, people would come to me and say, you know, how do I make my child's eating healthy. Actually what, what they present with with constipation a lot of the times, and I would say, Oh, you know, you need to get your children to eat vegetables. And I didn't have kids at the time. And I didn't realize that it's one thing to say, help your kids eat vegetables, and it's a totally different thing to get your kids to actually eat vegetables.

 

YOGI MD  

Yes.

 

Dr. Orlena  

So I found myself in this. You know, I remember this one day, my three year old, actually in floods of tears on the toilet because it hurt him to go to the toilet because he had constipation. And I just remember thinking, How can this happen? You know, I present them with vegetables every single day. And what do they do? They eat the pasta out of the vegetables. And so I really realized that, you know, there are a lot of other people struggling with this. And that's what I did. For several years. I wrote books on feeding toddlers and helping picky eaters, which really in the background is about healthy eating. In my mind, it's about healthy eating, and also about stress, stress levels and your relationship with your child. And then a year and a half ago, I think it was, I think I sort of took a step back and decided that actually what I really wanted to do was help mothers and adults more than children. And of course, I still am interested in children, but I wanted to stop making that my focus and there were many reasons for this, but one of them being that actually the best way we can teach our children healthy eating and healthy living is to demonstrate healthy eating and healthy living. And a lot of the problems that I was seeing were people who were not looking after themselves and they weren't eating healthfully, and it's pretty impossible to teach your children healthy eating if you're not eating healthily yourself. So that was one of the main main reasons for making that switch to helping adults.

 

YOGI MD  

What continues to excite you about the work that you're doing? How has it evolved?

 

Dr. Orlena  

One of the things I really love is working with individuals and seeing them make huge, great transformations. So I love to give this example of one of the ladies that I work with. And I met her a year and a half ago. You know, a professional mother, she works part time, she's busy. You know, she's, she's actually a dentist, so she understands the science, but at the time, she was really frustrated that she wanted to lose a little bit of weight. And she just couldn't work out what it was, or more importantly, why she couldn't make herself do it. So she understood the theory behind it. But then, you know, life is busy, she's got young kids, and she just couldn't do it. And she felt super frustrated. And we've been working together now and she's lost weight. And but importantly, we work on everything. So not just nutrition, so she's had more time for herself, and to really replenish her own batteries and to feel like she's a person rather than just a mother. And she started running. She used to be a sport, you know, a sporty person when she was at university. She was on track to run the Berlin marathon, sadly, I suspect the Berlin marathon is going to be canceled. But any the transformation is there you can see that transformation of, you know, actually I'm on track, if I carry on doing the things that I'm doing, I'm going to end up continuing to put on weight. And that's going to lead to bad health or not even, you know, it may be bad health, but it may just be not fit, having as much energy as you want to have been frustrated with yourself and not leaving that amazing life that you want to lead, but actually transforming that to, you know what I am leading the amazing life that I want to lead. And I think we all have that in ourselves. It's just that often we have to get clear on exactly what it is we want and how we want it and how we're going to achieve it.

 

YOGI MD  

And how did you do that for yourself?

 

Dr. Orlena  

Well, for myself, I think if I take a step back and go back to that story that I was telling you of when I was in Spain, and I have four young children, so I had four children under four and a half. For me, I really felt like I had lost my identity. And, you know, that's why I was really interested in talking to you. We're going to do another podcast in a minute. But it was really this idea that the the rug had been pulled out from behind me and I've lost my identity. I had, I used to be a doctor and you know, so super busy, which I think is something that we get used to and we get addicted to and then suddenly, somebody just put on hold. And I found myself, you know, being in my day and thinking, What am I going to cook for dinner today? And my thought went like this. What am I going to cook for dinner today? And my children going to eat it anyhow, so what difference does it make? So going from that really high octane life is so busy to like, No, actually, you don't have anything to do today. Other than, you know, look after your kids, I say other than it's obviously a really super important job, but there's that you know, combination of I need something to fulfill myself as well as nurture my children. And I realized that, you know, this was a big thing and within me if you looked at me outwardly, you would think, yes, she's functioning really well and happy and living the dream life. We were living the holiday life compared to all of my friends, I have everything that anybody would want, you know, a loving husband, four beautiful children, what more could I want? And I felt kind of ungrateful to say, you know what I want more. I want something else in my life. Yes. And I think it really got to a stage where I realized that things were beginning to fall around a bit around me. So my husband became unwell with with reflux, we didn't know at the time what he had, but I think that stress plays a big part in that. And I noticed that I was, you know, snapping with the children. I wasn't turning up in the way that I wanted to turn up. I wasn't living my dream life on the inside. So you know how it goes, you nag your children to get in the bath, you nag your children to get out of the bath. But really, and truly, when I looked at myself, I was not the happy smiley person that I wanted to be on the inside. And I know life happens, and we have to deal with emotions. But if you look at the overall picture, I was not where I wanted to be. And the way I got out of that was read, I started reading lots of self help books, actually. But I also realized that I had to apply my four pillars that I have now turned into a system. So we'd kind of got nutrition done, although I did make changes to nutrition, particularly, you know, in light of my children, but I made those gradually, but then I got to a stage where I started exercising more, I think I took my children to swimming class and I had to go and watch them swimming and it was so hot at the top of the swimming pool watching down and I just thought, why am I in this pool swimming. So I started and I started exercising. And I, the other big thing I did was really started paying attention to my emotions, and really taking responsibility for my emotions, and instead of allowing my emotions to control me to look at my emotions and go, Okay, so why does that happen? And you and I think this is an onward journey that we all have to work on all the time, I think until you get to Tibetan monk or somebody like that, who's really, who's really there working on your emotions, but that is something that constantly we have to do. And I find right now at this moment of crisis, or we're locked in a house with four children, that I really have to pay attention to my emotions and look out for those signs of when I'm beginning to feel a little bit frayed, and then I have tools that I use to help myself, you know, to get back onto track.

 

YOGI MD  

And to go back to what you said earlier, it's certainly one thing to say these things out loud, because we all know the advice that we should be taking care of ourselves, our body, our minds and our spirit. But to actually do it is a totally different story.

 

Dr. Orlena  

Yes, exactly. And I think that comes down to, there's lots of different things that I think contribute. So one thing I think, is having the tools in the first place, because some of the tools you may not use all the time. And another thing I think, is habits. So habits really are the key of when you can do things without thinking. And you know, when something's a habit, we automatically do it. And those habits can also be the way we think about things. So you know, you can have this thought, I'm somebody who looks after myself. And now that doesn't mean that you never eat cake or never drink alcohol, you have your own limits, but you don't consistently go over those limits in a way that you know is detrimental to your health. So if you think I'm somebody who takes care of myself, you might allow yourself an indulgence and a treat, a cake from time to time but you're not somebody who's then constantly eating cake as a way to not feel emotions. So I think those are some important things to think about. But yeah, I think tools and habits are, you know, the mainstay of what keeps you on track there.

 

YOGI MD  

And also knowing that we're not defined by our habits too, that our habits can be change. Yes, some of them may be more difficult to reprogram, but at the end of the day, we are not our habits, we are not our emotions. And if we find that something is no longer working for us, no longer serving us, it is possible to make those changes.

 

Dr. Orlena  

Yeah, absolutely. And I think it's really important to remember that we're doing this for ourselves and that it's us who benefits so I was talking to somebody the other day and you know, right now she needed some help. rethinking her exercise routine, because obviously everyone's exercise routine is as at a time where we have to change and sometimes it can be a bit of a battle, can't it? You have these two minds, you have your thinking mind which goes, you're going to exercise every single day. And then you have your habit mind which goes, I eat cake. I don't drink beer, and I'm not doing this. And you have to get to a balance of those two minds. But you also have to remember that the reason you're doing this is for yourself and so that you feel fit and fabulous and that you get all of those benefits. You're not doing it to please somebody else. We're doing it to look after yourself.

 

YOGI MD  

Mm hmm. I think context is really important too. In terms of self care, we, we tend to isolate what we should be doing and what looks like being good without really thinking about what we're doing, the who we're spending time with... So what I mean to say is for instance, my daughter loves to bake. She makes these wonderful breads and desserts and things. And she's always trying something and experimenting and evolving. So what's wrong with not calling it cheating? Or indulging or being bad? Because I sat down with my daughter, who made this beautiful dessert from scratch at a table together with some coffee, and enjoyed it. Can't that be self care? Can't that be taking good care of yourself because you are not only sharing this thing that was made with love with each other, but and yes, it's not a plate of vegetables, but it was made with love. And it's being consumed in a way that the emotions, we're taking care of ourselves emotionally, and we're actually sitting and we're actually paying attention. Does that make sense?

 

Dr. Orlena  

It does and I totally, totally agree with you. Okay, so you know we are in a stressful situation and drinking a glass of beer is definitely a stress relief. But also I think there's another way of turning it on its head. And I like to drink a glass of beer at about five o'clock in the sun. So today is not a day because it's raining, that I'm going to go and do that. But I think you're absolutely right, you can turn it on your head and say, Do you know what this is a celebration. I'm there with my husband, and we're in our back garden. And I'm looking at the weeds pretending they're beautiful flowers. But you know, it doesn't matter. I can hear the bees buzzing. And I can see the ants and a little lizard and all of these things. And I can celebrate this moment right now and go, do you know what, I'm so lucky that I'm alive. And I think you're absolutely right, that you can celebrate these things. And I think historically we've always used food as celebration. It is something and I think you know if you look back in the past when food was much more difficult to make and you know, it took so much time and energy to create foods to grow food and then create food. But people did celebrate life with food. However, now we are in a society where food and calories are so easy to just pick off the shelf, and we can eat them without thinking. And that's where the danger is, when you sit down with your daughter, and you really celebrate the fact that she spent an hour or two hours in the kitchen and you recognize that, you're recognizing what's going into that food and what's going into that experience. But so often we just take something and, you know, we have this emotion that we don't want to think about. For me, it's boredom. I know that that's my emotion that I try and get rid of. And it's so easy to pick something very high calorifically and just gobble it down and then move on and not think about what we've just consumed. And I think that's the danger. And if you are somebody who does that, I would urge you as well to have a healthy snack. But at least then, if you're eating vegetables, the amount of calories involved in it is far, far less than, you know, if you're drinking a fizzy drink or something, which is very high sugar content. *DRUM SOUND*

 

YOGI MD  

Why do you think we as moms have such a difficult time prioritizing our self care until a crisis happens?

 

Dr. Orlena  

Well, I think that's a really interesting question. And actually, I kind of think it makes sense because when you become a mother, you're essentially handed this baby that needs your care 24 hours a day, seven days a week and so your priority becomes that baby and you get used to putting yourself your own needs last. You know, let's think about sleeping we all want to sleep at night. Baby says no. And you get used to putting those needs At the bottom. And as, as you get older, as the baby gets older, you get used to being that person who is used to doing all the laundry to do all of these things. And gradually that baby grows up and they become more autonomous, being able to look after themselves. But we're still they're used to that role of being a mother and being the person who holds everything together. And I think some people do step away and go, Oh, my goodness, now my baby is a little bit older. Now there's more time for me. But a lot of people don't, don't do that. They just get on with life until something happens where they're forced to take a look like I was when I realized that my husband was getting on well, that I was not being the mother I wanted to be and that I had to change things. And I think that happens to a lot of people, that it's either you're surviving or you get pushed into that. Okay, now, this is a crisis and I have to sort something out.

 

YOGI MD  

And then no role is permanent. So what I mean by that, if you love being a mother, and this is the center of your life, at a certain point that no longer becomes the thing that occupies most of your day and energy. So as we evolve, if we fall into ignoring ourselves, a pattern of doing that, what do you think are the possible repercussions in the future?

 

Dr. Orlena  

I think the biggest one is that you show your children exactly the same. So you know, as I was talking about healthy eating, your children learn by learning and one of the favorite quotes that I have is the best thing you can give your children is your own happiness. And I truly believe this is if this is true. If you are a happy mother, and you turn up as a happy mother, you're going to interact with your children in a way that they enjoy that you're happy that they learn happiness from. If you're not happy, your children will pick up on that, they will know that, and they will realize that you aren't happy. And the way you get your happiness. And this is another thing that I think is truly amazing is that a lot of people think that happiness is something that happens to them. And it is true that some people are naturally born happy, and some people are naturally not born happy. But the reality is, is that we can create those emotions and we can create the way we think about things. And so actually, happiness is something that we need to work towards, and it's within our control. And I think a lot of people don't realize that and I definitely didn't realize that, that. You know, we can do so many things to create our happiness and create what I call our ideal life. And when I say our ideal life, I really mean from an internal landscape. Well you can obviously, create your own external landscape as well. But first of all, I think it starts with internally. And I think as well it goes back to that routine, but you have to have that routine of self care. Because if you don't have that routine of self care, it just gets lost. It's the same with anything. If you say, Okay, I'm gonna, for example, run for 10 minutes on Monday, and then you don't specifically say what time it is, chances are you get to bedtime and go, Oh, my goodness, I forgot to do my run. If you're used to getting up and going for a run before you have your shower, then you do it without thinking. So it doesn't matter what your self care looks like, whether it's meditation, or reading or journaling, or exercising, all of these things are valid, but you need to know what works for you and what replenishes your soul.

 

YOGI MD  

Completely agree with you. But I also think it also comes down to opening up our scope of how we think about what self care actually looks like. Yes, there's the actual physical, there's the mental, the emotional, the spiritual. But I think what gets neglected is what else satisfies a sense of purpose. As we get older and say we retire, if the identity has been primarily of whether it's caregiving in a family situation, or caregiving in a work life, if that thing goes away, what else is left? What else satisfies that intellectual curiosity? How else can you contribute? What are your talents? What are skills? What are other things that you'd like to cultivate?

 

Dr. Orlena  

Yes, no, I entirely agree. It's almost like you need to have a project and find a project that is meaningful to you. And one one quote I've heard, which is really interesting is that as humans, we think that we've had a good day when we have achieved something towards a project that has meaning for us. Now, it doesn't matter what that project is, that project might be doing a mural with your daughter, who's seven years old, or it might be running a big corporate business, it doesn't matter. It doesn't need to be judged by other people. It's our own judgment of ourselves that I think is important. And so choosing something that's important to you, whether it's just something that you do on a small and local scale, or whether you do it on a big scale doesn't matter. But we think that we've had a productive day when we've just done a little bit and it doesn't mean it doesn't need to be a huge thing. So I've noticed this in myself, we have this big project to redo our house. Now obviously, our project is on hold at the moment. But I feel that I have contributed to that when I have put some rubbish outside you know, old furniture and the the people who run the tip will come and collect it. So it takes me 10 minutes and it's one of those silly things that you think it will get done at some stage, it doesn't matter whether it's today, tomorrow, or whether I have to pay builders to do this. But if I have done a small thing that I think has contributed towards the bigger picture of this project, I think, yes, I've chipped away at this project. I've kept this project going, and I've done something I've had a satisfying day. *DRUM SOUND*

 

YOGI MD  

How do you advise busy moms to feed their kids healthy food?

 

Dr. Orlena  

Well, in a nutshell, I'm just gonna say one sentence. It is, eat more fruits and vegetables. And I think the thing about children and healthy eating is that it is not something that comes naturally to children. It's not something that we are going to do our natural, or let me put this up another way, our natural way of being a human is to seek sugar. It's one of our driving forces, one of our survival forces is to look for glucose. And that's perfectly normal in adults and children. And if you ask children, what do you want? They will say something like cake or spaghetti bolognaise and spaghetti bolognaise has quite a high, you know, it gives you a big glucose rush. And that's what we're looking for as human beings. And this goes back to how we've evolved over millions of years. Because previously, as I've just said, you know, we didn't have that food that was so readily available, but now we do have that food that's readily available. So one of the things is that you have to teach children healthy eating, it's not natural for children to want to eat cabbage instead of want to eat cake. So if you're expecting your children to pick cabbage over cake, you're going to be very disappointed. But the good news is that we do have their entire childhood to teach them healthy eating. And really the aim of healthy eating for children is that when they leave home, they have got healthy eating habits that are going to last them a lifetime. And then they aren't going to get all those nasty diseases. And that's really the goal. So it's a long term plan that you're thinking of. So the other big thing is looking at processed foods and the amount of processed foods that you're you're consuming and you want to move away from processed foods. But as you increase your fruits and vegetables, you will naturally decrease your processed foods.

 

YOGI MD  

Is there anything else we might have left out of our conversation you'd like to address?

 

Dr. Orlena  

Yes, I think one thing that I think is super important and going back to, I guess my time that I was in the quagmire of identity and mother and all of that, and I think a lot of people will find themselves in this. And it, you know, happens on either a big scale where it rocks your entire life or a small scale where it might rock your morning. But I think we create spirals. And you can either create a negative spiral, I call this going down to negative plughole. And it might happen, for example, in the family. So you know, if you wake up grumpy, your child wakes up grumpy, the child's a bit grumpy at you, and you snap at somebody else, and you just pass this grump around, but it can happen with our thoughts and our emotions, too. So you might have this thought of, oh, my goodness, this didn't quite go how I wanted it to go. And so now my day is ruined. And I haven't achieved anything worthless. And you know, it spirals round and round. And the way it spirals around is that with the way we think about things affects how we the emotions that we feel, and the emotions that we feel affect how we what we do our actions. And we can we can change any of those three spokes, we can change our thoughts Obviously, you have to do it in a way that is realistic to you. You can't trick yourself into thinking things that you don't actually think. But you can think about things in a slightly different way. And you can change your emotions, I think mostly by meditation is the easiest way to change your emotions. But music is another great way of changing your emotions. You can obviously change your actions, you can change those. And once you start working on those three spokes, instead of spiraling down to negative plug hole, you can spiral up what I like to call the golden the golden spiral, which is just the same but in reverse. So when you start thinking positive thoughts, and then you start feeling positive emotions, and then you start doing positive actions, and then you have another positive thought on top of that, then you're creating that same spiral but instead of going down and everything being negative, you're going up and everything being positive. So sometimes it can just feel like you're doing a really small thing. I've just changed the way I think about this and it feels like almost nothing, but it's just swinging things the other way. And so tomorrow you can have another more positive thought in a week's time, you're going to be in a totally different place. And it just seems like nothing but it's not nothing. It's amazing and that is everything that is in your control to create your amazing life.

 

YOGI MD  

So how can we find you?

 

Dr. Orlena  

I have my own podcast, Fit and Fabulous at 40 and beyond with Dr. Orlena and many other wonderful and excellent guests, and I'm very excited to be interviewing you soon. And I have a website which is Dr. Orlena. So that's drorlena.com which essentially houses my podcasts and other bits and pieces.

 

YOGI MD  

Thank you

 

And now Orlena, what is your personal definition of what it means to be healthy?

 

Dr. Orlena  

That is an interesting question. I think it's a combination of being healthy in mind and spirit. So, you know, you want a healthy body. But there's no point in having a healthy body if your mind is upset and depressed. So it's about emotional wellness and physical wellness.

 

YOGI MD  

It has been a great pleasure to have you on the podcast. I learned a lot and I had a really comfortable time getting to know you. So thank you.

 

Dr. Orlena  

Thank you very much. It's been a pleasure. *DRUM BREAK*

 

YOGI MD  

And now it's time for the Mindful Minute. From Stephen Covey's "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People", Here's a quote. "Look at the word responsibility, response-ability, the ability to choose your own response. Highly proactive people recognize that responsibility. They do not blame circumstances, conditions, or conditioning for their behavior. Their behavior is a product of their own conscious choice based on values, rather than a product of their conditions based on feeling." *MUSIC BREAK*

 

And now for testimony from one of my dear yoga students...

 

Testimonial  

"Yoga has had such a profound impact on my life. It's almost hard to describe, I would say in every conceivable way. I've connected to my mind and through my mind, my body. It's truly something that I can't live without at this point. I've had yoga before Nadine, but through Nadine I've decided that it's somethingI need to do for a lifetime from our lifetime.

 

YOGI MD  

Thanks for being here. Connect with me at yogimd.net. And I'll see you next time. *OUTRO*