Wilma MacDonald of Maverick Motherhood: 5 Lifestyle Tweaks That Can Dramatically Improve Your Wellbeing
An Interview With Candice Georgiadis
Keep it simple. So often we try to decorate the house before we’ve built the foundations. Leaping to green powders and supplements before we’ve built our nutrition core. It’s not sexy, flashy or loud. Instead it’s small, simple consistent changes that don’t add anything else to your already stuffed to do list and add up to big changes.
As a part of my series about “5 Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Wilma MacDonald.
Wilma is a qualified nutritional therapist and founder of Maverick Motherhood where she helps exhausted mums transform their lives, upgrade their energy and inject much needed va va voom into their lives. Her mission is to help women fuel up properly, because when you power up your body you can unlock your inner power to thrive. Her expertise has been featured in The Huffington Post, Natural Health Magazine, The Telegraph, The Daily Mail and has been guest speaker/featured expert for various online platforms supporting women who’ve had children.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the story about how you first got involved in fitness and wellness?
I was regular corporate cliché. Living off croissants, coffee, pizza and pinot grigio. Work was long days, late nights and mini eggs for dinner. I was coasting along with life. My 20’s and early 30’s were spent working in windowless corporate offices, in the bar, on red eye flights and piecing nights back together the following morning. By 28 I was on high blood pressure medication and the Dr requested I change my lifestyle. I declined.
A kidney infection that had me in hospital instead of at my 5-star hotel Christmas party was the start of things changing for me.
In 2001, aged 22 I was diagnosed with a hereditary degenerative kidney condition called polycystic kidney disease. It’s where cysts grow on your kidneys, I had some on both my kidneys and one on my liver. I was told that they were just there and there was nothing I could do to stop them; as my Granny was 86 when they discovered she had them I was told I had nothing to worry about. I ignored them.
10 years later in the hospital I was reminded that my kidneys, my body and my health needed my respect.
As well as the kidney infection, I had boils on my butt, a cough that lasted 3 months, struggled to sleep and had a level of tiredness that seeped into my soul. I was a high functioning exhausted insomniac and I looked ‘healthy’ on the outside — mostly.
In an attempt to feel ‘normal’, I went round the wellness houses. Acupuncture, herbalist, reiki, GP, physio, meditation and eventually a nutritional therapist. It was following sessions with a nutritional therapist that I saw the biggest and longest lasting impact on my health.
A few years later, I knew that a corporate career was no longer what I wanted to do, I did a 3-year nutrition qualification and for a few years juggled finance and nutrition work. It was only post tiny human that I really discovered my nutrition niche in working with exhausted mums and its exploded from there.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
The most interesting thing that’s happened to me since I started my career is all my clients. They blow me away with their resilience, their willingness to change and the trust they place in me. I never underestimate the privilege that I have to be let into people’s lives, hear their stories and help them upgrade their energy, change their health and ultimately change their lives. I love it.
Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?
Getting on my nutrition soapbox, often and everywhere. I turned into a nutrition bore, it was all I talked about and thought it was my place to pass comment on what you were eating, whether you asked for it or not. Experience has taught me that no one likes being lectured to (including me) and that leading with compassion, empathy and relatability is far more effective to supporting people to change their habits than judgement delivered from a place of nutrition superiority.
I can look back and laugh now, honestly no one would invite me for dinner in case they got stuck with my nutrition chat and complicated dietary requirements.
Can you share with our readers a bit about why you are an authority in the fitness and wellness field? In your opinion, what is your unique contribution to the world of wellness?
I’ve been told I have a direct and witty approach to nutrition which I’m fully embracing. Health is a serious business for us as individuals and for the world as a whole, sometimes we forget that fun, ease and pleasure are as important to our health as eating broccoli and drinking water.
My unique contribution to the world of wellness is supporting exhausted mums. The ones who have borne the brunt of the pandemic. The ones who have been forgotten about. The ones who are told that being tired is a part of motherhood, so suck it up. The ones who are told that they chose to have children so now they can’t complain. The ones who have grown and birthed the next generation and are then left to their own (over used) devices.
I’m here to redefine internal and external expectations of what it means to be a modern woman who has children by fueling them up to create the life want.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
My husband, Andrew. He’s my accountability partner, cheerleader, coach, investor, nanny to our tiny human. He supported my decision to quit my lucrative finance career, he calls me on my BS, talks through ideas with me, reminds me daily that I’m brilliant, puts up with my often long working hours all alongside his own demanding job. He believes in my vision and purpose as much as I do. Maverick Motherhood wouldn’t exist without him. He’s the best.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. We all know that it’s important to eat more vegetables, eat less sugar, exercise more, and get better sleep etc. But while we know it intellectually, it’s often difficult to put it into practice and make it a part of our daily habits. In your opinion what are the 3 main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know, and integrating it into our lives?
- We don’t think we’re worth the effort. Everyone feels tired, I just need to suck it up. My problems aren’t important enough to get help with. It’s selfish to do something for myself when I could be spending the time/money on the kids. These are some of the reasons I hear as to why people aren’t looking after their health and it all has roots in the fact that we don’t think we’re worth the effort. You are, you deserve it and you’ll be a happier, calmer and vibrant person for it.
- Too much conflicting information. If you google how to get healthy you get 1,490,000,000 hits in 0.63 seconds. Add Instagram, Tik Tok, Twitter, print media, the news and your best friends’ husband to the mix and you’ve got to digest more information than we used to consume in a lifetime. There’s mixed messages, everyone’s trying to talk over each other and you’re sitting in the middle getting more confused. It’s like a kid’s soft play, noisy, messy and stinky (that’s the cauliflower pizza). Strip it back. Find a few (qualified) people you like, get to know them and their approach, try a few things they recommend and see how you feel.
- We all think getting healthy = deprivation. Diet culture has it wired into our brains that getting healthy is a slog of deprivation. All salad and no sugar where you’ll have no mates cos you’re now a ‘health freak’ and is devoid of all pleasure and joy. We think its going to be harder than it needs to be so best not try in the first place. Food is a source of connection, community and celebration and that always needs a place in our lives, alongside green vegetables, movement and water.
Can you please share your “5 Non-Intuitive Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”? (Please share a story or an example for each, and feel free to share ideas for mental, emotional and physical health.)
- Ask for help. I often hear that there’s a block between the brain and mouth when asking for help. We know we can’t do everything alone, but there’s this feeling that we’re a failure if we ask for help. We ‘should’ all over ourselves when trying to improve our wellbeing and give up. Asking for help shows self-awareness, a commitment to improvement and gives you the accountability you need to move forward. Think of how you feel when you help someone, feels good right?
- Keep it simple. So often we try to decorate the house before we’ve built the foundations. Leaping to green powders and supplements before we’ve built our nutrition core. It’s not sexy, flashy or loud. Instead it’s small, simple consistent changes that don’t add anything else to your already stuffed to do list and add up to big changes.
- Do more, not less. Why do I want you to do more when you’re already struggling to do it ‘all’? When your car runs out of fuel, you fill it up with more fuel — you don’t stop driving it to preserve what you’ve got left. Same with your energy, you’ve got to do ‘more’ to get more. More protein, more fat, more carbs, more vegetables, more water, more play, more fun, more pizza, more sunshine, more movement, more pleasure.
- Figure out your version of healthy. There’s classic definitions of health and there’s what health allows you to do. Figuring out your why and figuring out what upgrading your energy and health will mean to you as a human, as a parent, partner, colleague and friend will keep you going on any wellness journey. It’s got to be all about you, not about your kids or boss.
- Hydrate. Low energy. Brain fog. Irritated. Dry lips. Constipated. Sticky mouth. Headache. Under eye circles. 75% of us live in a state of mild dehydration which means that feeling sleepy, unmotivated and having difficult concentrating is a default setting that can be switched by drinking water. Which makes sense when you know that your body is 70% water and your brain about 78% water. Drinking small glasses throughout the day is more efficient for your body and bladder instead of chugging 2 liters down at 7pm.
As an expert, this might be obvious to you, but I think it would be instructive to articulate this for the public. Aside from weight loss, what are 3 benefits of daily exercise? Can you explain?
I like to call exercise intentional movement for the mind and body. We exist in a modern world but biologically we’re still cavemen and cavewomen where movement was an integral part of our lives, not so much these days. In 2021, intentionally moving our body in a way that feels good (afterwards anyway) has more benefits than weight loss.
- Energy upgrade. Feels counterintuitive but if you’re internal battery is feeling flat, the best way to recharge it is to move. Think of how pumped you feel when you’ve moved your body in a way that was challenging, you pretty much feel like you can do anything afterwards.
- Stress management. Exercise is a physical stress on the body that contributes to a strong body and a healthy mind. The right movement for you reduces levels of cortisol and adrenaline in the body while increasing your feel-good hormones, endorphins. It also increases levels of satisfaction, self confidence and pride.
- It’s fun. When we’re adults, everything seems to get serious. Everything needs to have a goal attached. Metrics to measure up to and having fun is ‘childish’. What if we did some movement for the fun of it? To see how we felt, to bond with our tiny humans, to meet big humans. What if we took the pressure of achieving the perfect physique away and considered our exercise as a way to play? Research has shown that when adults engage in play it has a positive impact on their physical and mental health.
For someone who is looking to add exercise to their daily routine, which 3 exercises would you recommend that are absolutely critical?
I’m not a fitness professional, however daily movement is essential for overall wellness. The 3 exercises that I think need to be included daily:
- Walking. Easy to include the tiny humans. Gets fresh air to clear the head and any funk. Doesn’t cost anything and can be done anywhere
- Stretching. Want to improve your posture, relieve aches, increase your flexibility and manage stress? Add some stretches to your daily routine.
- Squats. An excellent all rounder for pelvic floor, glutes, core and stability. You want to be able to push yourself out of your recliner when you’re 80.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?
I’ve read most of Paulo Coelho’s books, the one I keep going back to is The Alchemist. It’s a simple and powerful story that reminds us that we all have a purpose to fulfill in this world. Fulfilling that destiny is never straightforward, there’s temptations on the way to entice you away from your purpose and listening to your intuition will get you there quicker than any hacks or shortcuts. If you don’t follow your purpose there’s always going to be a niggling feeling that’ll leave you restless and wondering ‘what if’.
I was ambitious from a young age and knew that I wanted to be my own boss making a difference to the world. But I got sidetracked by what I ‘should’ be doing. Going to university, getting a ‘good’ degree, a masters and then getting an office job. I travelled for a few years after university, living in New York and New Zealand before returning to the UK. I randomly landed a temp job in a finance institution and leaned my career ladder up that wall. I shot up it quickly, but always with that niggling feeling that this wasn’t it. One 5am morning I was clip clopping through the airport in my stilettos and pencil skirt, pulling my cabin sized suitcase behind me, coffee in the other hand when it hit me that I was where I thought I wanted to be but I was a miserable insomniac who dreaded Monday mornings and was developing a bald patch on the front of my head through stress. This was my epiphany with legs moment when I knew that I had to figure out my purpose and live it out. Not going to lie, it wasn’t easy, still isn’t, but it’s worth it.
Now every time life and business seem overwhelming and I wonder if I’m doing the right thing, I remember the lessons from The Alchemist — we have everything we need to find our own buried treasure, learn to listen to your intuition and anything worthwhile doesn’t come without a trek across our own version of the desert.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
Mothers are not martyrs. Society often views mothers as whingeing weaklings who have to give up on themselves for the good of their tiny humans, otherwise they’re considered selfish. I am starting a movement that challenges the status quo where women have to suck it up and get used to being exhausted, overwhelmed with life and feeling yuck all the time because they happen to have reproduced. I’m here to liberate women from the idea that motherhood equals the demise of their health, freedom and ambition. By making sure mothers are well, it’ll have a ripple effect out on their family, community and the planet.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
It’s actually a Bruce Springsteen song lyric. “From small things, big things one day come”.
My old job in finance involved huge multi-million-pound transformation projects; the only way we got there was by breaking down these massive goals into small daily tasks that were allocated budget, planned, tracked, replanned where necessary and celebrated when delivered.
This approach can be applied to pretty much everything in life, especially your health. We’re led to believe we need to make big sweeping changes and take big action to meet our life and health goals, when in fact it’s the small things done consistently and continuously that build up to big things.
Bruce Springsteen always knows best.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them :-)
Patrick Mouratoglou, Serena Williams’ head coach. I watched him on the Netflix series “The Playbook”. He told the story of how shy he was as a boy, taking one year to say one word to his psychologist and now he demands respect from the world of tennis for what he says and achieves. I really resonated with his words about self-belief, doubt and how mindset is what sets the champions apart.
What is the best way our readers can follow you online?
My online home is at https://maverickmotherhood.co/
On socials its Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/_maverickmotherhood/
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!