It’s half term and the focus generally turns to the kids. But where do you fit in? It’s so common for busy parents to put themselves last on the to-do list, but prioritising your own health and wellbeing is essential. Here are some suggestions to help get you started:
- “When your why is big enough you will find your how”. This is a great quote to reflect on. It is impossible to stay committed to anything unless you know your “why”. Your “why” is the real reason you want to change. So before you go any further, think about it and write your answer down. Why do you want to lose weight? What would it mean to you? There is no wrong “why”. It just needs to have meaning and be personal to you. Once you understand your “why” make a list of all the things that might get in the way of you achieving your goal. When you do this you can decide what to tackle first. When things get tough always reflect back on the REAL reason you want to lose weight to help keep you motivated.
- All too often we hear parents say that they make lunch for the kids and their partner, but never even think to make their own and then end up buying a poor quality option or skipping lunch completely the next day. So a new goal to consider: when making lunch for the family pack yourself one the night before too, even if you are staying at home.
- Plan meals the whole family will eat. Planning your meals a week in advance should save time and money. Plus you will only have the stress of thinking “what’s for dinner?” once a week. When you plan what you are going to have you know that have all the ingredients on hand and so will be much more relaxed in the evening and have more quality time with the family.
- Don’t try to be a masterchef! Keep meals simple and avoid cooking more than one meal if you can. If you are trying to lose weight it may just mean making adjustments to your normal meals. For example, if the rest of the family is having spaghetti bolognese have it with them; just avoid the cheese topping & have less pasta and more veg or you could even try swapping the pasta to courgetti or butternut squash noodles for a lower calorie option.
- Make it fun and get the kids involved. Asking the kids to help is a great way to introduce new foods, they are more likely to eat the foods they help you to prepare plus it will help build their skills in nutrition and cooking. For younger kids homemade pizzas that they can decorate themselves is always a family favourite. It’s also a good idea to get kids involved in meal planning and food shopping as these are important life skills that they can carry over to their adult years.
- Don’t pick at the kids leftovers. You might think an odd bite here and there is pretty insignificant but if done often enough it can quickly pack on the pounds. You can easily add 50-100 calories to your daily intake with a few extra bites. Over a week and you could be talking an extra 350-700 calories. If your child is consistently leaving food behind, reassess the portion you give them. Serving small portions will mean there is less food for you to pick at.
- Don’t rush your meals. There are several benefits to this. Firstly, digestion begins in the mouth so chewing your food properly helps to reduce stress on the rest of your digestive system. Secondly, feeling full comes from your brain reacting to chemicals released when you eat. It takes the brain about 15-20 minutes to register these chemicals. If you take your time eating, you give your brain time to catch up with your stomach, leaving you less likely to overeat. And last but not least, sitting down as a family and enjoying a meal together gives you time to talk and connect about your day.
- We know that most parents are time-poor but it is really important to factor in some time for exercise and movement in your week. It doesn’t matter when in the day you do it as long as you fit it in. 2-3 days a week is an excellent place to start. Look at what your kids are up to during the week and plan your exercise around their timetable. If that doesn’t work get the kids involved. There are plenty of workouts on YouTube you could do and make it a fun family activity in your sitting room or garden.
- We often hear phrases like “but I have to have biscuits in the house for the kids”. But do you really? Do your kids really need to have biscuits every day? You are in control of the food shopping. You decide what foods to buy and how often to buy them. Kids won’t let themselves go hungry. They will eat whatever is available in the fridge or cupboards. So if you find one particular food too tempting to keep in the house consider changing how often you buy it and buy healthier snacks instead. Your kids will follow your example. If you want them to eat better you need to be a good role model. If their favourite snack, or yours, isn’t all that nutritious, you can still buy it once in a while so no one feels deprived.
- Take a breathe. Everyone needs at least five minutes in the morning to themselves – to gather their thoughts, to plan their day or to meditate. Meditation is actually really popular at the minute and we have seen a lot of clients get benefit from it. If you are unsure about where to start there are plenty of apps you can download on your phone to guide you. We have our strengths but we are definitely not experts in meditation at Hustle but we will gladly point you in the direction of a suitable app.
We know how difficult it can be to focus on yourself as well as the kids, but it is so important. Don’t worry about the odd takeaway or family meal out. Instead focus on making small changes on a daily, weekly and monthly basis to help you feel better, improve your energy levels and be a healthy role model for the kids. No one is expecting you to be superman or superwoman. Just aim to be the best version of yourself that you can be!
At Hustle. we have training sessions in the morning, afternoon and evening that can fit around a busy lifestyle. Want to know more? Click here to learn more about our personal training programmes and find out how HUSTLE. can help you!