Are you a busy stay-at-home mom, mompreneur or working mom who is usually on the go and doesn’t have a lot of time, but still has a desire to make healthy living a priority? Busy mom. I chuckle because the term itself is probably redundant. I mean let’s face it, what mom isn’t busy and constantly juggling a million things? We are the masters of multi-tasking. On the same token, every mom wants to get healthy, set a good example for her children and keep her family as healthy as possible. Yet we can’t seem to find the time for it. If you want to make a change in your health or your lifestyle, it doesn’t have to be hard. The key is to find new habits that will serve you better. But it does require a small amount of commitment and a huge desire to feel and look your best. The payoff will come in knowing that you are taking an important step to ensure that your family is healthy.
The good news is with a little preplanning and preparation, you and your family can maintain a healthy diet while keeping your active schedule.
Many busy families rely on the drive-thru or a takeout menu to get a meal on the table. Unfortunately, eating out often means getting too much fat, salt and calories, which puts you and your family at risk of health conditions that include heart disease and obesity. With childhood obesity – and indeed, the weight of many Americans – spiraling out of control, parents need to take extra steps to encourage healthy eating habits. Learning to eat healthy meals benefits the entire family and becomes easier with practice. Planning is the key to developing healthy eating habits. Here are a few tips for healthy living on the go:
Having a plan regarding what foods you will buy and prepare creates the opportunity to have healthy choices on hand. Don’t plan only for dinner. Decide what you will eat for breakfast and lunch too, so that you are prepared with healthy meals for the whole day. Write down each meal, and make a grocery list so that you have all the ingredients on hand. That way you won’t end up calling for pizza when you are pressed for time. Not every meal has to be cooked or prepared from scratch. Despite the fact that we live in an age where quick and easy is synonymous with greasy fast food, there are healthy convenient shortcuts available if you are shopping at the right places. Trader Joes is my favorite go-to spot when I don’t have time to cook. They have a ton of precut fruits and vegetables, pre-washed salad and easy microwaveable yet healthy options. There is no excuse not to have a salad on the table these days when all you have to do is open a bag and pour it into a bowl. When you do cook your meals, be sure to prepare enough so that you have leftovers that can be served on the nights you won’t be able to cook. Similarly, you may want to make an entire meal ahead of time and freeze it for later use. If your family members keep vastly different schedules, you can freeze individual portions that can be quickly heated in the microwave.
Buy healthy snacks and portion them into individual servings so that you always have a grab-and-go snack for each member of the family. A snack between meals is important to keep hunger at bay and prevent binge eating. Students need snacks to help them concentrate and learn at school, and working adults who keep healthy snacks on hand are less likely to hit the vending machine in the afternoon. Good choices include nuts, string cheese, fruits and vegetables, yogurt, trail mix and dry cereal. Stay away from those 100-calorie packs. They may be only 100 calories but they are 100 empty calories and in most cases do nothing to fuel your body. I used to grab protein bars until I discovered that most of them have as much sugar as a can of soda. Now if I need an extra dose of protein I blend up a protein smoothie which literally takes me two minutes and is a quick and easy way to sneak in an extra serving of fruit. My kids love smoothies too. A homemade smoothie is going to be infinitely better for you than the sugar laden versions at Jamba Juice, McDonalds or Starbucks. Not everything that is seemingly healthy is. My protein powder of choice is high in fiber and low in sugar. Make sure you are reading the labels because not all protein powders are necessarily healthy and many brands can be very high in sugar. Lastly, bring healthy snacks along when you go to sports games, the mall or the playground to refuel without ending up at the nearest fast food place.
I confess. I’m a carb lover. If it were up to me, every snack would consist of something starchy. But I know my body doesn’t respond well when I eat only carbs and I am depriving myself of the natural fiber, nutrients and protein that my body needs. This can in turn lead to increased hunger and cravings and have a downward spiral effect on other food choices I make later in the day. By incorporating foods from all the food groups, you ensure that your family is getting adequate nutrition without overloading on fat, calories, salt, sugar or cholesterol. Include whole grains, fruits and vegetables, lean protein sources, low-fat dairy foods and healthy fats. Indulge in the occasional treat to keep healthy meals fun and prevent feelings of deprivation. I try not to make any one food off limits. My kids enjoy treats and juice like any other but I encourage them to drink water and eat something healthy first.
Make Smart Restaurant Choices
As hard as we try, even the best plan can go out the window. There will be times when a busy family has to eat out, but doing so doesn’t have to derail your healthy eating goals. Choose the restaurant you will go to ahead of time, and use its website to look at the nutritional information for the menu items offered. In many areas, quickserve healthy alternatives to fast-food are becoming more available. In my local market we even have a pizza place that makes a pizza with healthier whole grain crust and has a special sauce with hidden vegetables pureed into it. The kids don’t taste the difference.
Life is always going to be chaotic. We have to accept that. In order to fit in exercise, your workout has to be scheduled into the day. No matter how crazy my day, I make my workout a priority for myriad reasons, not the least of which are my health and sanity. I almost never let anything get in the way of exercise. You have to be that committed or it will be the first thing you let go. Even if I feel tired one day or am not into it I still force myself to do it because it makes me feel better. I really believe that physical fitness will change your life. If I have a day with extra time, I will do a longer workout. If there is absolutely no time to go to the gym or squeeze in a run, I have a few of those quick 20-minute videos I can do at home. Sometimes people think that if they can’t get in a full workout they should blow it off altogether. Not true. Even a quick 10-minute walk, or a few squats, lunges and push-ups while your kids watch TV is better than nothing.
Healthy living doesn’t have to be hard. By taking a few extra steps and planning ahead, you will slowly be able to adopt these new habits until they become second nature.
At the end of another jampacked day, do you think about everything you’ve accomplished? Or do you find yourself tossing, turning and stressing over what didn’t get done?
Unfortunately too many of us with an entrepreneurial spirit internalize “You can do anything you put your mind to” to mean you should do everything and do everything perfectly! This mindset only leads to unrealistic expectations which lead to conflict and stress. You give yourself too much to do, run out of time and energy, and then feel guilty that you failed to do the impossible.
Stressing less is not about time management, it’s about you management.
1. Speak Your Truth.
Are you running around pleasing others, putting everyone else’s needs before yours, and agreeing to do things you don’t want to do? It’s time to get honest about what you really want and align your thoughts, words and actions to your truth. Otherwise your mind says one thing as your mouth says another and you wonder why you’re stressed! You’re never going to make everyone happy so stop trying. You’re only setting yourself up to fail. Rather than lecture your child about being honest, start practicing what you preach and match your mouth with your motions. Remember, “No” is a complete sentence.
2. Make a Not To Do List.
No matter how much you delegate, organize, prioritize or simplify you’re never going to have enough time to get it all done. Ask, “Is this in alignment with my core values?” If not, it goes on the not-to-do list. Give yourself permission to take it off your list and plug the mental energy drain. My personal not to do list includes volunteering time (I’ll find another way to show my support), organizing pictures and learning a second language. Let go of the guilt and reallocate your energy towards what you want most.
3. Love is Messy.
Many moons ago I had a beautiful apartment with nothing on the countertops, the pillows fluffed, and vacuum tracks on the carpet. I was also single and alone. Now that I have a family, I realize it’s not about perfection, it’s about connection. A perfectly clean house does not define you, it confines you. You’re never going to achieve your goals if you keep reorganizing the dishwasher! Tell yourself, “everything is not perfect, but I am perfect with everything.” And go connect with those that matter.
Change the way you look at things. For example, is this really going to matter five years from now? Of all the things you need to do, which will have the greatest impact a year from now? My personal mantra is I Am Too Blessed to Be Stressed. Repeating it reminds me that the fastest way to eliminate stress is to refocus my attitude to gratitude. While you’re at it, change your definition of Self-ISH. Balance requires boundaries. I like to say the ISH in selfish stands for I Stay Healthy and I Stay Happy. Make choices that demonstrate kindness and respect to everyone, including you.
5. Dare not to compare.
Stop comparing yourself to others. You are comparing apples and oranges without even realizing it. Your selfesteem plummets when you compare yourself to super achievers or individuals who are in a different place or stage in life. You are probably not seeing the full picture and the truth behind it. No matter how put together someone seems we all have stuff we are dealing with on the inside. Give yourself credit for your efforts, do your best daily, and draw inspiration from others instead of comparisons. And in case you’ve forgotten or don’t realize it, you are an inspiration to someone, even if you don’t know it.
6. More is not better.
Studies show most parents want their children to be happy. Is adding more activities, lessons, and practices to your children’s already overloaded schedule really best for them right now? And you? Do you really need to take on another project or commitment? How many pairs of shoes, clothes in your closet, or items in your home do you really need? That means more stuff to clean, organize, store, and pay for. More usually creates more stress and less freedom.
7. Ask for what you need to succeed.
When you ask, be clear and direct. Your Mom repeatedly calls you during the day: “Mom, I’d love to talk in the evening. Daytime is my time to focus on my business.” Express to your late paying client: In order to move forward on this project, I need to receive payment on my invoice.” Tell the masseuse who won’t stop talking: “Can we talk following the massage? I really appreciate the quiet time.” Put your pride on the side and ask for help and support when you need it. Remember, asking for help is not a sign of weakness; but a healthy way to remain strong.
You’ve probably heard some of these strategies and even gave similar advice. But what’s going to really create long-lasting improvement? The biggest, most impactful change which improved every aspect of my life was mastering speaking my truth. Dig deep, get honest, and be brave. Align your thoughts, words, and actions to what you really want. By applying these seven strategies to my truth, I was finally able to maintain a 50 lb. weight loss, create the business of my dreams, and become the best loving mom I could be. The next time you feel inner conflict, stop the stress cycle. Match your mind, mouth, and motions with love, compassion, and respect for yourself and others. Be passionate, speak your truth, and decide you deserve to live the life YOU want to live.