When a parent makes their own health a priority, it is reflected back on their family through increased energy for quality time with children, positive role modeling, and decreased stress levels.
But how? How do we make time and find the energy to care for ourselves among everything else that must be handled? It comes down to motivation, goals, and mindfulness…and some thoughtful strategies for making health and fitness work in your life. Rather than using our wellness plan as a punishment or added stressor on top of an already overwhelming to-do list, let’s talk about ways to make it work.
Busy parents who succeed at making wellness a priority create small yet significant changes in their nutrition and fitness routine. Building those small changes one upon another results in bigger changes over time.
Small, short term goals are the key to success when it comes to healthy habit change. Goals that are too big can feel overwhelming. This can lead more stress, worry, and a fear of failure, often leading to goals being abandoned or “put on hold” for an easier time. Small changes added one or two at a time, on the other hand, can easily become a part of your routine. And small steps over time add up to sustainable, long term change to your health and well-being.
Here are some easy steps you can start right now:
- Practice mindful nutrition
- Avoid mindless munching – unplanned scavenging is a hidden roadblock to nutritional success
- Stop, pause and breathe – take 10 seconds to slow down “emergency eating”
- Ask “Do I really want this?” – recognize hunger vs thirst, boredom or stress
- Make fitness easier
- Set out your workout clothes the night before – seeing them will remind and inspire you
- Create a buddy system – either working out together or just daily check-ins
- Purchase simple at home equipment such as resistance bands or dumbbells.
- Get support
- Reflect on your resistance to asking for help
- Ask loved ones to encourage you or notice progress or inquire kindly about how to support you to address barriers
- Ask for help with meal prep or childcare
Eating nutritious foods, getting in enough physical activity, sleeping enough, and decreasing stress can sound like a daunting task when you think about it all at once. But separate those down into small, manageable steps (think one more glass of water per day; 30 more minutes of exercise per week), and over time you can build a solid foundation of healthy habits. Forget crash diets and all-in gym plans. Small steps are the key to success for busy parents who already have too much on their plate
Stephanie Rondeau is a Boston based certified health coach who is also the parent of a busy toddler and Corporate Wellness Outreach Coordinator and Teacher for Peace At Home Parenting. Stephanie is an Athletic Trainer, a CSCS (Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist), a personal trainer, and small group fitness instructor. She helps women to treat themselves with compassion, practice positivity, and find the motivation and strength to live their healthiest lifestyle. Check out Stephanie’s FREE upcoming class, “"Wellness on the Run: Quick, Real Life Strategies for Parents of Young Children"