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As a mother of four, caretaker of an elderly parent and full-time professional, staying fit has been a challenge for myself and my family. And did I mention turning 46 doesn’t make it any easier? Luckily not all has been lost! In my family, we set an intention to keep our health a priority and focal point—no matter how busy life gets.
So, how do you balance a hectic schedule and your health goals? By creating a plan. It sounds cliché, but the saying is true, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”
Here are five (very realistic) tips my family and I use to stay happy and healthy:
Meal Planning - Confession: I hated the idea of planning weekly meals and cooking for the week. The thought of sitting at my computer or picking meals on my phone was not a task I looked forward to. When I took the time to plan meals for the week, not only does it help our routine flow better as a family, it makes grocery shopping easier, and we save a ton of money not eating out as much. Stuck on where to find fresh recipes? I get my inspiration from Pinterest and use the app Plan To Eat to ensure healthy, tasty meals are always at our disposal.
Managing Snacking - Eating unhealthy snacks can decimate any healthy food plan and sabotage your efforts to stay fit. Adding dried fruits, nuts, and other vegetables into my family’s food routine helps to manage cravings and can appease my hungry kids’ appetite until the next meal. Having my whole family decide on healthy snacks ensures junk food won’t creep into the refrigerator or pantry—and it’s a fun activity that gets everyone involved!
Prioritizing Exercise - The benefits of getting fit go far beyond just staying in shape. Not only can exercise be done anywhere and with the entire family, but it also gives you a chance to reconnect. My kids and I take walks when they come home from school, and we discuss their day while getting a workout. A little extra afternoon cardio always brightens our moods, even after a long day.
Being Accountable - The definition of accountability is “the obligation of an individual or organization to account for his or her activities and accept responsibility for them.” Having a family workout regimen or eating plan creates a built-in accountability system for myself and all members of my household to adhere to. We become responsible for and support each other’s wellness. Having someone to keep you on track when you fall off your fitness path is always beneficial.
Getting Enough Sleep - Getting necessary shuteye is probably one of the most overlooked keys to staying fit and healthy. In this digital age of computers, tablets, mobile devices, etc., sometimes we find ourselves getting much less sleep than we need for our bodies to properly function. Lack of sleep leads to overeating and tiredness which can destroy your goal of maintaining health. For my family, I make time to “disconnect” before bed. Whether it’s reading or talking, detaching from screens helps to strengthen our bond as a family—making us healthier and happier.
No matter how busy life can be, it’s important to remember that what you make a priority will help you succeed, especially when it comes to your (and your family’s) well-being.
When you think of self-love what do you think of? Bubble baths, walks on the beach, facemasks, or what? Self-love can mean so many different things but when we think about self-love, we have to acknowledge loving ourselves both on the outside and on the inside. The way that we show ourselves love is one of the most important things we will ever do.
How do we treat ourselves? How do we talk to ourselves? What foods are we putting into our bodies? How are we thinking about our overall well-being when practicing self-love?
As self-love defines and redefined itself for you over the years, here are a few foundational tips to think about when easing into your self-love journey.
Don’t we love this one? Loving ourselves has a lot to do with the boundaries that we have for ourselves, with others, and for others. Take time to think about your own emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual needs when setting boundaries that reflect your personal needs. Boundaries don’t have to be big and scary; they are here to remind us that you get to have your lived experience and still have expectations about how you’d like to be treated and what you’d like to feel.
When thinking about your boundaries, ask yourself:
In a world where perfectionism and curated existences have been rewarded, begin to cultivate compassion for yourself. You are a soul having a human experience and it’s totally okay if things are not perfect.
Mindfulness exercises such as Breathwork, self-care activities, and self-compassion, all help train the mind, emotions, and even the body’s stress chemicals to be able to deal with undesired situations. Self-compassion means, can you be nice to yourself? Can you find empathy and kindness for yourself in the middle of what feels chaotic, stressful, or unwanted? Self-compassion means that we get to make mistakes, have our plans not work out the way that we wanted, and we still get to celebrate that we are doing the best that we can and it is enough.
When thinking about self-compassion, ask yourself:
In every sense of the word “nourishment”, begin to learn what nourishes you and what depletes you. Nourishment doesn’t just mean food for yourself; it means that whatever you are consuming whether it be media, podcasts, people, energy, information, etc. all impact the way that we think, feel, and experience life.
Nourishing yourself definitely goes right along the lines of having your boundaries intact and practicing self-compassion.
When thinking about nourishment, ask yourself:
That’s it. Those are the foundational steps to cultivating a self-love practice that you can ease into your daily routine. Come back to these questions often, because like anything else, self-love is a practice and it takes effort, time, and intention to maintain.