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Got Balance? by Jamie Leff
Moms wear many hats. They are not only moms, but wives, entrepreneurs, they play doctor, taxi driver, math tutor, they cook and clean. Moms basically run the show, making sure their families are well taken care of. But how often do they have time for themselves?

I work with a lot of moms, and it’s the same story: “I know I shouldn’t eat the chocolate, but I just can’t help myself. I see it and I have to have it. I just can’t stop.” One of the biggest struggles I see is that most women (moms especially), just can’t seem to curb the sweet tooth. It comforts them. It fills them up. Then they come to me full of frustration, wondering why they just can’t get it together and improve their diet. When I dig a little deeper, I discover that the problem rarely has anything to do with food. These women are burnt out! They run themselves ragged and have no balance in their lives. Food is the little pleasure they get out of their day, and often the one thing they feel they can control in the mass chaos that is their day. Once I bring this to light, we can start peeling back the onion, layer by layer, and try to figure out how to get things back on track. What can provide comfort instead of food? Why does she need comfort in the first place? What’s missing that food is trying to fill? What these moms really need is a little more balance!

Don’t you just love that word— balance? What does that even mean anyway? Can you really achieve balance? What balance really does is keep you sane and feeling on track. What allows you to take a pause and just breathe. When you are out of balance, it means that most of your focus is on one area of your life, but not enough on another. Being out of balance can effect so many different areas of your life: your health, your finances, the quality of your relationships, and your mental well being. Because I’m so so concerned about my client’s health, and because I find that tends to be the first to go when you’re out of balance, I decided to interview my friend who I think lives a very balanced life. She’s one of the busiest moms I know, yet she is also one of the healthiest.

Meet Patricia.

Patricia is a wife. She’s a mother of 3 kids under 5. She’s involved in her kids’ school, after school activities, birthday parties on the weekends, etc. Oh, and she works full time. Patricia is thin, fit and healthy. After picking her brain for a bit, here are some pearls of wisdom on how she manages to find balance and stay healthy. (I have included my thoughts on how you do this):

Anything is ok in moderation.

Don’t deprive yourself of anything, just enjoy it in small doses. If you absolutely must have a slice of cake at your son’s birthday party, take a tiny slice and enjoy every bite of it.

Get moving.

Staying active not only helps keep your body in shape, it provides mental relaxation as well. Working out is time away from the distractions of your kids, husband, work (i.e.. your life) and allows you time for you. Even if it’s only 10 minutes, that’s better than nothing. Plus, you can’t beat those feel good endorphins.

Snack smart.

When opting for a snack like chips or crackers, take one handful, close up the bag, and leave the room. Don’t bring the bag with you and mindlessly eat handful after handful until you finish the bag. This is particularly important for those who tend to stress eat!

Take a nap.

When feeling overwhelmed, take a time out. Lay down or sit still for 5, 10, 15 minutes and just relax. It may seem like there’s no time to slow down, even for 5 minutes, but I promise taking that 5 minutes now will pay off and actually save you time in the long run.

Make balanced choices.

Pick and choose things that you can and will avoid. For example, make it a principle not to eat fast food. Or if you know you’re going to want dessert with dinner, order a salad or something on the lighter side. When eating out, try to eat out only once or twice a week. Pack meals and healthy snacks to take on the road which can help you avoid temptation.

Stay sane by taking care of yourself.

Take some “me” time when you need it. Ask for help with the kids, but make yourself a priority. Find moments throughout the day or set aside time for a manicure or lunch with a girlfriend. Moms tend to be excellent at managing a schedule, so make sure that “me” time gets in there.

What are some ways that you can achieve some balance in your life as it pertains to your health? Do you see areas where you can improve? Can you try to incorporate one or two of Patricia’s tips into your week?

As I mentioned earlier, when trying to be healthy, lose weight or just simply improve your diet, sometimes diet actually has very little to do with it. If we can clean up other areas of your life, everything else seems to fall into place. Diet is actually the easy part. So look at where things are a little off balance. Maybe you eat right, but don’t exercise. Or maybe you give so much time to others, but you don’t have time for yourself. Start small. Look at a couple of areas where maybe you need more balance, make a few small changes, and suddenly, you’ll develop a momentum.

Need help? Head over to www.JamieLeffNutrition.com, take our assessment and set up a complimentary consultation to see where you could use a little improvement.

Jamie Leff

Health & Nutrition
Jamie is a registered dietician who hopes to inspire others to live a healthy lifestyle.
Read more about Jamie here
.

It is only 7 am on Tuesday and you are already feeling overwhelmed! Your long list of things to do include dropping the kids off at school, picking up the dry cleaning, meeting with your web designer, taking care of your customers, developing a new product, picking the kids back up from school, taking Jonny to soccer practice and Missy to ballet, and then, somehow manage to feed your family a healthy meal. Whew! I’m exhausted just writing this! Now, it’s 11 pm, you finally have some time to yourself, and you realize you have not had a decent meal all day! You picked a little off of your kid’s breakfast plate and finished up what was left of your husband’s dinner, but that’s hardly a balanced meal. The hunger pains start to kick in and the next thing you know you are raiding the cabinets and consuming anything you can find, from crackers to ice cream. This scenario is all too familiar to me. I see it all of the time with my moms who are trying to balance a family and a career. They do not have time to cook, so they end up picking up fast food on their way home. Or, they have been out all day, running around, and forgot to stop for lunch. Here are some tips to stay organized and hopefully prevent you from missing a healthy meal and becoming a slave to fast food or whatever junk food happens to be in your house at the moment.

1. Plot out your week ahead of time. I am sure you have heard this before, but it is worth repeating. You need to know ahead of time when you will have time to cook and when you will need to pick up food. Schedule meals like you would appointments, or get a meal planning calendar. My favorite comes from momagenda.com. You can plot out your family’s activities for the week, and then plan your meals around them. This will allow you to see when you need to pick up food on your way home from soccer practice, what nights you need to reheat leftovers, and what nights you actually have time to cook.

2. Find a free day (Sunday’s work best for most people) and prep ahead of time. You can make multiple meals at once, then freeze them. Cook up some ground turkey and use it all week for pasta sauces, burgers and tacos. Bake a dozen chicken breasts and shred them into soups, stews, tacos, salads or to top a baked sweet potato. Slice up a bunch of sweet potatoes, spray them with olive oil and bake for 20 minute at 425 degrees. You can sprinkle with a little sea salt, then portion them out into individual baggies for a healthy, tasty snack on the go.

3. Wash and do most of the prep work as you unpack the groceries. I wash fruits as soon as I take them out of the bag, and put them in a fruit bowl on the counter. Then I know I always have fresh fruit that is ready to grab as I’m walking out the door. If you’re anything like me, the idea of taking the extra time in the morning to wash that apple will actually prevent me from taking it as a healthy, “on-the-go” snack. Wash and cut up veggies right away and store them in Tupperware. Portion out chicken or fish into individual freezer bags with marinade. Put nuts into snack baggies or purchase the individual portion packs. Taking these little extra steps will guarantee you have a fridge full of grab and go options, and will actually save you time in the long run.

4. Pack a cooler with food for the day to keep in the car – grab a sandwich or a snack in between meetings, errands or appointments. Some of those coolers can keep food cool for up to 12 hours! Add some ice, a large bottle of water, some fruit, a pack of nuts, a hard boiled egg or string cheese, maybe a tupperware of some leftovers, or even a salad! Just don’t eat while you’re driving! Before you hop out to pick up the dry cleaning, reach in and grab that hardboiled egg and maybe a handful of grapes. After your 12:00 meeting, scarf down half a sandwich before you drive off to meet your customer. Finish the other half and maybe a few cucumber slices when you’re done. Snack on some nuts while you’re waiting for your kids to come out of school or while you’re watching them at soccer practice. The key to being a Balanced Mom is to take advantage of stolen moments.

5. Leftovers are your friends! Make a big batch of quinoa or brown rice – have it for lunch or as a hot breakfast cereal. Add leftover salmon to a salad or chicken in a sandwich. Crumble leftover turkey meatloaf over pasta.

6. Steamer Bags! The easiest way to cook vegetables. Yes, fresh is better or steamed in a pot, but this magazine is called Balanced Mom not Super Mom! Don’t be so hard on yourself. You’re doing the best you can. You can purchase frozen vegetables already in steamer bags, or purchase special bags to put fresh vegetables in.

7. Find grocery stores with salad bars. One of the easiest things to do for dinner is to stop in on your way home from work, make a salad and grab a roasted chicken or some cooked salmon to have as an entree.

8. Eat when your kids eat! For you moms who always skip breakfast: While you’re pouring cereal for the kids, spread some almond butter on a slice of toast, or microwave some of that oatmeal you prepared on Sunday (and froze in those individual baggies). At the very least, have a hard-boiled egg or some yogurt while you’re putting on your make-up.

9. Unpack that Crock pot your in-laws gave you as a wedding gift. Remember, “Set it and Forget it!”

10. If you must do fast food, pick places that have healthy options such as salads, turkey burgers and grilled chicken sandwiches. Even Wendy’s now serves sweet potatoes.

Jamie Leff

Health & Nutrition
Jamie is a registered dietician who hopes to inspire others to live a healthy lifestyle.
Read more about Jamie here
.