How I Stay Healthy With Little Kids

Partnership with Old Navy

Photography by Taylor Cole

Outfit Details:

Me: Old Navy Tank, Old Navy Sports Bra, Old Navy Compression Tights
B: Old Navy Tee, Old Navy Shorts
Fos: Old Navy Tee

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!

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  1. Benedetta says:

    Thanks for sharing..this is so intresting and you look great!!!!
    Be Happy with Fashion

  2. Lisa Lacy says:

    Thank you for the inspiration. I’m 49 and enjoy seeing you sweet family pictures and you are my go-to for keeping up with what is in style. I don’t want to look like I’m trying too hard….lol…but I can at least know how not to look frumpy!

  3. Erin says:

    I find planning what I’m going eat, even if it’s only a day ahead, really helps me. That goes for exercise too – and I just plan to start it. If I make a big deal in my head abiut long it will take and all that, I put it off. If I think to myself, ‘just get into your workout clothes, and start that video, that’s all’, I’ll do it and 98% of the time I’ll do the whole thing. It’s the starting that’s hard. 😉

  4. Janssen says:

    That third baby (and being a little older) is such a game-changer. I had basically EXACTLY the same experience with eating tons, especially sugar, right after Star was born and then being all “hmm, why am I not losing weight?” Even when I toned it down, it took me a while to get back to my pre-baby shape – much longer than with the first two girls. And I expect this time around wiil be even harder.

    • Melissa Esplin says:

      Agreed with you! It took me forever. I’m still trying to get back. After going on some anti-depressants that didn’t do me any favors, I’ve got some set-back that I’ve had to muscle through.

      Chris works out at the same time every day (which doesn’t work for me), so I’ve found that telling Chris my plan, makes the work-out actually happen.

  5. Julie Pfeiffer says:

    Thanks for sharing. I schedule my work outs with my sisters/friends and that helps me be motivated. Any tips for healthy dinners that your children like too?

  6. Tanya says:

    wondering what size you wear in the leggings? Thanks!

  7. All of these are great…changing your mindset is a journey, so there will be ups and downs. I’m currently pregnant with my third child and it’s been so tough to stay active during the first trimester! I feel your pain, but for different reasons 😉 I find that asking Siri to remind me at scheduled times helps me to work out more. Good luck!

  8. Mish Young says:

    I have a double whammy of a thyroid condition and being peri-menopausal to deal with, so my motivation is strong even when my body is weak 🙂 I am also fortunate that we have a gym at work so I use it every day, even just 30 minutes walking on the treadmill adds up! Like you I don’t mind eating the same thing every day for breakfast and lunch and I am getting more organised with having healthy food in the fridge to help me there too. My big health goal for this year is to swap out as many processed foods as possible and replace them with home made versions that a low in sugar, salt and gluten free – so far so good!

  9. Stacy Thompson says:

    Such a great post! I had my third baby around the same time as you and had a similar experience. I thought the baby weight would melt off within a week, just like it did with the first two. Wrong!! It took much more work and time. And now I have to constantly be careful. What you said about mindset and thinking about long term consequences is so important. And hard! But this post has been motivating. PS I am Philip’s cousin:). Cindy and my dad are first cousins. But I don’t think I’ve seen Philip since his farewell!

    • Merrick says:

      Hey Stacy! Small world that we’re related! Thanks for sharing your story — we’re in the exact same boat. It’s hard, but worth it. Keep up the good work! xx

  10. Hill says:

    When you have young children, you don’t always have time for yourself. This is especially true when it comes to taking care of your health. It is good that there are some clinics that can solve your health problem rather quickly.

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