Yesterday on the blog I shared an answer to one of the most frequent questions I received on my survey, and today I’m sharing another: how do I stay fit with three little kids and a busy schedule?
First, I will say that good genetics play a big role for me. After my first two boys, my body bounced back pretty quickly with nursing. So after San was born, I was ready to jump right into the “nursing diet” of eating whatever the heck I wanted. I’d been really careful during my pregnancy, but right after he was born I kind of went crazy and was eating desserts pretty much every night, eating large portions, and basically not paying attention to what I was eating at all.
Aaaand suddenly it was catching up to me. All of my clothes were fitting differently, and all of my jeans were feeling very tight, and that baby weight was not coming right off like I anticipated. In fact, I was putting on some weight. When I moved and sat down and bent over, I could feel the extra weight on my body and I just didn’t feel like myself. No matter what size you are, change in the direction you don’t want to go is frustrating.
It was a wake up call to realize my body is changing as I get older and that it would require more effort on my part to keep it in shape and keep it healthy.
So over the last six months, I’ve made some big changes in my lifestyle and habits. So today I’ve teamed up with Old Navy to share some of their incredible activewear line, and share some things that have helped me be healthy, both in body and mind.
I’ve tried a lot of different activewear brands in my life, and always the thing I’m most interested in is a good pair of compression tights. Usually they cost a pretty penny for a good, sturdy pair with stretch and lift, but these ones from Old Navy blew me away because they do all those things, but they’re only $20 right now! Their tops are also super comfortable — this tank is soft and lightweight, and I also bought this long sleeved top that I love. I’m sharing more of my favorites at the bottom of the post!
So here are 6 things I did (and still do) to help me stay healthy and in shape, even with little kids:
1. Mindset. This is the key, and this is also the hardest. I am really good at psyching myself up, and also good at talking myself out of things. The thing that finally stuck for me was seeing negative changes in my body, and realizing that my behaviors were a direct result of that. I had to be really honest with myself and think about the next few years and picture where I would be if I continued down this path of poor habits. My good genetics were not going to do it for me — I was going to have to make some changes. I had to remind myself of this every single day for weeks and weeks to keep myself motivated, until eventually things sunk in and my good choices started turning into habits.
2. Preparation. Once I’d shifted my mindset, preparation was the next most important thing for me. If I don’t have healthy food in the house, it’s so much harder to eat well. I’m a creature of habit, so I’m ok eating the same things everyday for breakfast and lunch — and that’s exactly what I do. So I make sure I always have those ingredients in my fridge and pantry. And I’ve found that eating a decently large breakfast and lunch (filled with healthy ingredients) keeps me from snacking in between meals.
For breakfast, I eat oatmeal with almond milk, sliced strawberries and bananas, chopped almonds, unsweetened coconut flakes, and a dash of sea salt. Or I eat an omelet with two eggs and half a cup of veggies (usually green pepper, tomatoes, and mushrooms), and then top with feta cheese and salsa.
For lunch I eat a veggie bowl with sweet potatoes, yellow squash, and zucchini, chopped and sauteed in a little coconut oil, and seasoned with salt, pepper, and a little garlic powder. Then served with a little feta cheese sprinkled on top. Or a chopped kale and warm quinoa salad with chopped almonds, dried cranberries, feta cheese, and bean sprouts, with a little drizzle of light dressing on top.
3. Work toward a goal. A lot of have people have told me that working toward a race works for them. I’ve tried it and it hasn’t worked for me. Online challenges or challenges with friends are the most motivating for me. I did a Sugarless Holiday challenge during December with some friends from Instagram, and I’m currently participating in a 6 week health and wellness challenge with some people from my church. Having an end goal and a daily guide and a support system are the most motivating and helpful for me, and I can even make treats for my family now without indulging myself (although I definitely do sometimes because I also believe in balance).
4. Find things that motivate you. I picked up these new exercise clothes from Old Navy last week to help boost my motivation, and you know what? It totally did. It’s silly, but a small thing like that helps me want to exercise. I hate exercising in clothes that ride up or bunch or aren’t comfortable, so these compression tights are perfect. Like I mentioned above, I’ve tried a bunch of different brands, and usually an amazing pair of compression leggings are really expensive, so I love that Old Navy has this activewear line with amazing pieces at really affordable prices. Old Navy does it again.
5. Get support. It’s definitely harder to take care of your body and your mind when you have little kids that demand a lot of your attention and time. But I’ve found that the best way to achieve health with little kids is to get them involved. We talk about healthy choices, they do exercise videos with me occasionally, and we get outside to go for walks and runs together (they sometime ride their bikes and scooters while I run). I bought B this athletic tee and these super lightweight, comfy shorts (both only $10!) and he was over the moon excited to wear them. Clearly exercise clothes motivate him too! And even though Old Navy’s athletic wear doesn’t come in toddler size, they have cute graphic tees, like this Keep It Cool one Fos is wearing.
6. Cut yourself some slack. I have days where I exercise, eat exactly what I planned, and go to bed by 10:30. But I also have days where I don’t have time to make healthy meals for myself, so I survive off of bites of my kids peanut butter sandwich, and handfuls of cereal while standing in the pantry. If you have a bad day, don’t beat yourself up. Taking care of yourself, on top of taking care of a family, and working, and everything else you have on your plate is HARD. But it’s worth it. Don’t let kids be your excuse to not take care of yourself, but also don’t let the hard days get you down. Since I’ve made these changes, I have more energy, my mind feels healthier and more clear, I feel more patient, and just over all I feel good. Tomorrow is a new day. If you had a rough one today, start tomorrow with a clean slate.
I’d love for you to leave a comment and tell me what YOU’RE doing to keep yourself healthy, if you’re a mom, or even if you’re not!