Oge Akinola, taking action and advocating maternal health

Busy mum of four Oge Akinola invited us to spend a day with her, so we could see how she juggles being the CEO of Bump N Chic with family life

Oge Akinola is the CEO and Founder of a faith-based Health and Wellbeing Consultancy firm, Bump N Chic, which helps women to build an integrative lifestyle through health and well-being, and advocates for maternal health through pregnancy and beyond, both inside and outside of the workplace.

Bump N Chic was birthed after Oge had her first baby, and struggled to juggle motherhood with the commitments of working in a private utility firm. Knowing she wasn’t alone in her experience, when her contract ended, Oge decided to take action for other mothers and launched her business in 2015.

Through Bump N Chic, and as a health and wellbeing consultant and fitness coach, Oge has coached and supported thousands of women across the world, promoting sustainable health and well-being for mothers and their families, and helping women to build a stable foundation from which to succeed in both their professional and family lives. She is an international conference speaker and a known voice on such topical issues as women in leadership, women’s health and well-being, fitness, nutrition, faith and health, family life, and intentional living.

We met with Oge, who shares what a typical day for her looks like. 

Starting the day positively

My morning is such an important part of my day, so I am very intentional about commanding my morning and starting my day positively. Sometimes it doesn’t go as planned due to family commitments! But, I make room for adjustments or interruptions from my children. 85% of the time, it is right.

I am a person of faith, and my beliefs and spiritual values guide how I live my life.

My morning starts quite early, which gives me time to nourish my mind and spend some time in stillness before my children wake up. I’m awake by 4.50am every morning. This way, I have enough time to get through my routine. I spend the first 10 minutes in stillness and expressing gratitude for the new day. After which, I get into my personal devotion for 20 minutes, which includes a prayer session. Some days I have a worship and praise session or listen to preaching by one of my favourite gospel ministers. This gets my spirit, and my mind ready and enriched for the day. I always like to have a verse in mind that guides me through the day. 

I also devote about 10 minutes to jotting down my tasks for the day (I have a full life, so having my activities written down helps me act right). The feeling of ticking off tasks after completion gives me a sense of accomplishment.

5.30AM is workout time. As a health and fitness coach, my commitment to my health is equally very important to me. Exercise wakes me up, and ready to take on the activities of the day.

I do an hour-long workout six days a week, and on Sunday I stretch and rest my body. My workout sessions and activities vary depending on the time of year; however, I always do a lot of strength training. It is important to preserve muscle mass and stay strong and active. 

As a pre-and post-natal specialist, I help women strengthen and build back their core muscles and core strength, especially after pregnancy. The training involves using simple exercises and movements to close any ab separation (known as Diastasis Recti). So, as part of my own exercise routine, I also include very specific core exercises and Pilates moves into my workouts. 

My children are awake and ready for school just as I am done with my personal routine. We have our family devotion at 7AM, in which we share a Bible verse and prayer. We are a family of six; myself, my husband, and our four children. Each person takes a turn to lead the family morning devotion. The children are very involved in the process and use this time to learn a Bible scripture or two and then share their thoughts with the family. My husband and I also use this time to affirm our children and set them up for the day.

My husband is very hands-on, so he helps with preparing breakfast for the children while I get ready for the school run. I usually spend 5 minutes checking my phone messages whilst enjoying my 8oz gut health drink. Then I leave for the school run – usually with a hot drink (herbal tea) in hand.

Ready to start work

I am usually at my desk at 9AM and officially start work from 9.15AM until noon. I start off by checking emails and confirming what needs urgent attention or response for the day and what doesn’t. I respond to admin and clients, delegate any work where necessary, sign off social media posts and get on with the day’s work. I have regular meetings with my assistant mid-morning to check in on any confirmed speaking engagements and events that I need to attend. 

I also spend 15 minutes or so at the start of the day responding to emails from my children’s school.

The other things that demand my immediate attention change depending on what we’re working on. Currently, we are engaged in a company rebrand and expansion, which is a key priority and takes some focus!

But, over the past two years, due to the need to create more time in my diary for completing my Executive MBA programme (and avoid burnout!) I have learned to delegate much of the work in the organisation to my talented staff. Fortunately, the course itself has helped build my management skills to enable me to do this in an effective way so that my team can build their own expertise and I can find balance in my work. 

At around midday I set aside the time to take a walk around for about 20 minutes to encourage blood flow and avoid sitting for long periods. I normally have another hot drink at this time (decaf coffee).

At about 12.30PM, I take the time to focus on my schoolwork. I have almost completed my classes at Imperial College Business School, so currently I have enough time to focus on carrying out some research and interviews to help complete my thesis. 

Lunch is at 2PM. I have lunch with my husband sometimes or, at other times, a working lunch alone. A quick lunch would be a protein smoothie or a massive bowl of rich and healthy salad.

At 3PM, I check my personal messages. Having four children in different year groups can be quite demanding so I leave my afternoons free to respond to commitments from my children’s school, which can include activities like games, drama presentations, music concerts, award days, and festive activities. 

I go for the afternoon school run at 3.45PM and typically return home at 6PM due to the staggered school day finish time for each child. The evenings are for my children. When we get home, we spend our time chatting, which helps me to keep abreast of their interests and challenges – if any! Doing this help to create an open environment where they can honestly share anything without holding back. Dinner is at 7PM, and homework and bedtime for the children are at 8PM.

Finding the work-life balance

The most challenging part of my day is when I must work quite late into the night to ensure I complete some of the very important tasks for the day. I try not to compromise on my time with my husband so that we can check in on each other, chat and ensure that we are doing okay with everything we are working on and keep to our family commitments. 

Working into the night doesn’t change my wake-up time, so staying committed to that routine can be quite challenging at times! But I have managed to stay true to it.

On weekends I try to catch up on sleep and refresh when the children are out for their activities. 

Enjoying the day’s highlights 

I love the sense of accomplishment I get once I’ve ticked off the priority tasks on my outcome list, and the ability to take out time to play and do something that excites me. I always push to get most of my work done earlier in my day – before the afternoon school run – so that I can either get some rest, some brainstorming time, read a book or check out exciting healthy recipes I can try out for the family to enjoy. I also love the time my husband and I spend with the children catching up on their day.

I am an advocate for getting rest when possible, so on the days I complete my work earlier and my body feels tired I make time to take a short nap in the day, but only when needed. Investing in myself like this helps me stay more alert in the evenings and allows me to work for longer an additional hour before bedtime. 

Creating a relaxing evening

I strongly believe in integrating aspects of my life. I have learnt to master my time and I know when to step back and rest. When I try to push harder than required, my body sends me signals to take a break and I listen. 

I have also taken up reading. I read a chapter of a book daily, and when I can’t sit and read I listen to audiobooks. I like to think so I create time in my day to move away from everything – work, school, family and create some quietness around me, if only for about 15-20 minutes in my dressing room, or in the car in some cases, to relax and chill.

My personal evening routine starts after I’ve served dinner. Most times, I get in a 10-15 minute evening workout to aid with digestion. I also get to work for an additional hour at night. After that I completely wind down. I always aim to be off my computer at least an hour or two before bedtime. It has been a challenge sticking to this goal lately, especially with school commitments and meeting deadlines.

On days of great success, I shut my computer down at 8PM, have a bath and have my last drink of water or a warm drink. Camomile is always a go-to because of its calming effect. I spend some time with my husband just chatting. We read scripture together, expound on the verse and then pray. 

I like to listen to news headlines at 10PM to satisfy my love for politics and keep abreast with political matters. Once that is over, I get into bed. If there is any pressing assignment that needs to be completed, I might still stay awake working on that till about midnight (working at night sometimes gives me the peace and quiet I need to think, research, and submit my work for my studies). 

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