The following post was written by Kristin Perez, a wife, mom to twin boys, middle school math teacher, and fitness coach. She became passionate about health and fitness after realizing that from the hustle and bustle that comes with having kids, she was neglecting her own self-care. Through her own wellness journey, she has learned how to incorporate healthy, family-friendly meals and efficient workouts into her daily schedule and now enjoys sharing what she has learned to support and motivate other busy women, on their own wellness journeys. You can connect more with Kristin on Facebook and Instagram.
When I gave birth to my twin boys 5 years ago, life completely changed. Like other first time moms, I knew life would drastically change, but never really grasped that change until it happened. My life revolved around those little boys. Becoming a parent was the best thing that has happened to me! My husband and I became a great team that made sure that our sons’ needs were top priority. Everyday life was incredibly full – balancing parenthood, full-time jobs and our social lives. And I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
But around the time the boys were two, I realized one very important thing was missing in my life. The boys were thriving – but I was NOT! I was not doing a good job taking care of ME. I was stuck in a rut of bad habits and convenient excuses that left me feeling more tired and “blah” than ever. I felt justified in my unhealthy lifestyle because I had twins and “didn’t have time” to do better.
Luckily, I learned I wasn’t the only mom who was treating herself this way. I found other women (many of them also moms) who were in the same situation, but gradually transforming their lives for the better. It was then that I realized my boys should be the reason I take care of myself, not the excuse. I wanted to be happy, energetic and healthy – for me and for them.
But once I was committed to making a change, I still didn’t know where to start. After all, starting is the hardest part! So today I’m here to share 5 things I’ve learned along my journey that have helped me incorporate healthier self care into my busy lifestyle.
1. Fitness is not one size fits all.
While I was a gym regular before the boys, I realized that going to the gym regularly wasn’t going to be easy now. While you absolutely can go to the gym or hit up a group fitness class, I grew to appreciate other ways to be active, that didn’t require a gym membership.
Taking a walk with the kids, going for a bike ride, or even playing with the kids at the park work great! Then I learned about effective in-home workout programs that helped me work on more specific fitness goals, which saved me both time and money.
2. Don’t diet.
Dieting = quick fix. They are often restrictive, many times focusing on eliminating calories or even complete food groups. And while they do provide results, they are often short-term. To make healthy living a lifestyle, you have to find something that works for you for the long haul.
Results lie in what you will do after you reach those goals. Make sure that your nutrition plan is sustainable long-term, because if you go back to your old eating habits after you meet your goal, you will most likely gain the weight back! So, where should you start?
3. Create a food journal.
Record what you eat, when you eat, and how much you eat. Maybe even write down how you feel when you are eating (bored, anxious, tired). Tracking this for a few days will give you a clear picture of your eating habits, what triggers your eating, and how much of each food group you are eating. Keep in mind that your body benefits from eating from every food group.
Once I started tracking my food, I learned that although I was always staying within a certain range of calories, my diet was primarily carb-based, lacking the protein and veggies that I needed. Once I adjusted the macros and portions of what I was eating, I quickly saw and felt change within my body.
4. A little planning goes a long way.
The last thing I wanted to do after work was spend a lot of time in the kitchen making dinner. Thank goodness for Pinterest and the easy access to healthy meal recipes! But those still took time to prepare. And I can’t be the only one who doesn’t want to cook a big meal after a full day of work, coming home to kids that want my attention!
What I learned is that a little time spent on the weekend to plan and prepare meals/snacks went a long way during the week. I used the weekend to plan out all meals and snacks for the next week, go grocery shopping, and prepare as much as I could for the upcoming week. This included cleaning and cutting fruit and veggies, cutting and portioning out meat, and cooking what I could ahead of time. Doing this, I had a much easier time throwing a few things together for dinner quickly, instead of running to get take-out. Yes, it takes up a little bit of weekend time, but it is so worth it during the week.
5. Small changes can go a long way.
Do not feel pressured to make large changes with your fitness and nutrition at once. Depending on your current nutrition and fitness levels, making a HUGE change with your eating and fitness could actually backfire. You don’t want to set yourself up to fail by making large, unsustainable changes.
Start small. Find little, manageable things that you can do regularly, to start out with. Drink more water (half of your body weight, in ounces, is a good start). Eat more vegetables. Add 5-10 minutes of activity to your day. Start that food journal. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Get enough sleep each night. And once you feel comfortable with the little changes, then increase or add more changes.
Bottom line – do what works for YOU. Becoming healthier is NOT all or nothing. Start by making small changes and doing them on a regular basis. Find supportive, positive people who you can share your goals with – to be your listening ear and cheerleader – and just go for it!