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The Part-Time Jungle Podcast Episode 43: Motherhood & Movement with Christina Whelan Chabot

e043 – The Part-Time Jungle Podcast: Motherhood & Movement with Christina Whelan Chabot

Christina Whelan Chabot lives with her family on their beloved farm in Ontario. She is a best-selling co-author in the You’ve Got This, Mama series and juggles motherhood, a role at the family business and her Pilates business (Matters of Movement). Not to mention her brand new podcast of the same name. During COVID-19, she began a Move Better Feel Better campaign directly supporting women’s mental health. After graduating from the exercise sciences Master’s program at the University of Toronto, she went on to study Pilates, the Franklin Method® and the Oov, in an effort to help people find the freedom that a fit and healthy body and mind will provide.

In this episode:

  • The Double Shift. Working and mothering can prove to be difficult, especially when it seems like the work never ends. Christina talks about her double shift as a businesswoman and a mother.
  • Healthier Habits. Change needs to be made in moderation, you can’t climb Mt Everest without learning how to hike.
  • Movement and Accessibility. Reframing our mindset, approach, and expectations can help us to move better and feel better.
  • The Magic of Movement. Movement can positively impact so many facets of our lives including mental health, chronic pain, and anxiety.
  • The Art of Change. This involves doing a visual sweep, getting clear on your “why’s”, and making a plan that works for you.
  • Overcoming Obstacles. If you think you need help, seek it out. Don’t struggle any longer than you need to, it’s okay to ask for help.

Connect with Christina:

Christina spends more time with her children than her husband does, this is because of his job. Along with Christina’s day job, she has the second shift of looking after her children, which can serve to be challenging as it appears to be a never ending loop of working and mothering. Despite this, she describes her home life as “the perfect chaos”, with a mix of work and interruptions. She also took her eldest daughter’s advice of being more present, as it is easy to be buried in work. So, Christina vowed to spend less time with distractions (such as her phone) and to be fully engaged while she’s in her mothering shift.

The farm that Christina lives on is fairly big, so movement is a huge part of her life. She likes to stay active because it helps serve as a distraction for the things that spike her anxiety. Christina also teaches pilates, though she has to make sure her kids are watching TV otherwise she feels like she can’t do her movement. She mentions that she hires her children to babysit her youngest on the nights she teaches pilates, which is a great opportunity for her children to learn responsibility. Christina also says that she tries to move with the kids. It could be simply moving around the farm or throwing a dance party, but she wants movement to be a part of their lives.

Christina reminds us to be realistic whilst making and considering changes in our lives. She also says that we should start small and in moderation, then as we get more comfortable with completing our goals, we can start on the bigger, more daunting ones. You can’t climb Mt Everest without learning to hike. The mindset behind this is the feeling of accomplishment growing with each task you complete, it also helps us build skills we may not know we would need for our bigger goals. Christina gives us the important message that, if you want to change, you have to work for it.


To start working towards your goal, you must first do a visual sweep of your life. If you want healthier habits, think about anything you want to change about your wellness, diet, or movement. Once you’ve completed your visual sweep, start writing detailed “Why’s”. For example: why am I doing this?; After that, figure out ways that you can accomplish your goals, try to make a plan that works for you!


Christina likes to wake up early in the mornings to get some movement in before her busy day begins. She feels that this helps her be more calm and patient throughout the day. Christina also talks about a misconception to do with movement and mental health. There’s a lot of information that argues that exercise helps reduce anxiety and depression, but Christina feels that this is incorrect due to that statement being a generalization rather than taking into account people’s individual experiences. She believes that movement can be a good way to bring people together, like going on runs in groups or going on a daily walk with your family. But this statement also relies upon the assumption that nobody deals with chronic illness or pain. Christina reminds us that pain is not always physical, and that movement (especially with injury) can reiterate the emotional pain of the experience, and replay the memory associated with it.


There are many factors that can contribute both positively to movement and motivation. Christina’s daughter was recently diagnosed with ADHD, so this makes for a unique combination and approach to movement. Studies have proven that people with ADHD who exercise are more likely to develop a desire to complete difficult tasks. This helps the individual with ADHD since the disorder is mainly focus-based.


The Franklin Method is a way of staying active that consists of positive thinking, motivational language, and words of affirmation–otherwise referred to as positive reinforcement. Instead of looking at things from a negative perspective, try an optimistic one. Christina tells us the importance of a positive mindset, and the Franklin Method has helped her achieve this.


Christina talks about studies that scientists conducted on professional athletes by using imagery and how it could impact their movement during their competitions. They discovered that the athletes that were provided with a visual did better in their performances compared to their regular performances without visual training.


The wellness industry makes billions of dollars a year by profiting from others insecurities and desires, and it’s not always accessible for everyone. Christina reminds us that no matter what diets we follow, how many times a week we work out, how we change our lifestyle, not everybody will look like the barbie-doll figure that we’ve been brainwashed into thinking is who we should be. She reminds us to keep our goals realistic, though it’s definitely not a crime to want to have the barbie-doll figure, remember that reaching our goals will not instantly solve all of our problems.


Christina recommends starting off with at least 10 minutes of what she describes as “purposeful movement”. This does not include moving around the house, but rather dedicating time to move or moving outdoors.


One thing that Christina described to be her biggest challenge was trying to understand her daughter. Up until recently, Christina did not know about her daughter’s ADHD, so she felt like she was failing her daughter from a parental aspect. She described that feeling as a “cycle of shame and failure” because she did not know how to help her daughter. Then, she realized that she should try to get her evaluated for something to see if that could provide any answers, which it did.


Christina ends by stating that it’s okay if you have dishes leftover in the sink or cups on the kitchen counter. Everybody has different needs, and not everything has to be perfect all the time. Don’t beat yourself up if you aren’t the best 100% of the time, so long as you’re putting your best efforts forth, you’re doing great.



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