As parents, we don’t have time to try all the new workout fads or Pinterest recipes. We barely have time to go the bathroom or take a shower alone. So when we want to prioritize our health, we need quick, easy and balanced.
As a mama with two kids under the age of 2, and a freelance writer, I understand the challenge of finding time, energy, and a desire to move my body and feed it nutrient-dense foods. But I’ve also learned this: you can’t skip your health and you can’t put it off. You deserve to live a long, healthy, happy life and do every activity you want. You are worth investing in.
Here are five practical ways to move your body and nourish it with good food, so you can feel and be healthier.
(P.S. Your life and time and situation are unique. So, take the tips that work for you, and leave the ones that don’t.)
1. Find your why and write it down.
You’re reading this article, so some part of you is curious or interested in prioritizing your health and that’s GREAT, but why did you? What are you wanting to change? What’s motivating you?
Maybe you want to have more energy or feel more confident or comfortable in your own body. Maybe it’s about feeling strong enough to get on the ground and play with your kids or run around after them. Whatever your reason, write it down. You don’t have to show it to anyone, just make sure it’s visible to you.
Studies show you’re 42% more likely to reach your goal if you write it down. I know it can feel silly but writing down what you want to achieve and why is a big, real first step!
2. Learn to let go and say ‘no’.
I wish I could wave a magic wand and freeze time. Then, I could do everything I wanted to do without saying ‘no’ to anything or anyone. But unless you have superpowers, you’ll have to give something up to get what you want.
Saying ‘yes’ to something, inevitably means saying ‘no’ to something else. This hard truth used to intimidate me. But I’ve realized I am worth saying ‘yes’ to. My health, wellness, and happiness are important and that means it’s worth saying ‘no’ to others or to other things.
- Saying ‘yes’ to moving your body, could mean saying ‘no’ to an extra Netflix episode, or another laundry load, or to cleaning those crummy floors or that extra-long brunch with friends.
- Saying ‘yes’ to spending 10 minutes planning meals for the week or an extra 5 minutes packing a healthy meal for work could mean saying ‘no’ to sleeping in a bit before work or grabbing a latte or scrolling through your phone during breakfast.
It could also be a ‘yes’ to multitasking and ‘no’ to having the ideal alone time. For me it looks like this: working out while my daughter is playing in the same room. And yes, I get interrupted. And no, it’s not easy. But it’s worth it.
There will always be another TV episode. Another dirty dish. Another TikTok video or Instagram story. Another load of laundry. Another happy hour. Make sure you’re prioritizing YOU and investing in YOU, not just other things or people.
3. Get moving by doing what you LOVE.
Whether you’re doing daycare drop offs and pickups or your kids are with you all day, carving out time to work out is hard. But it’s easier to get moving when you do something you enjoy. Find a way to move your body that you love because it makes you feel good, not because culture or media tells you to love it.
I tried kickboxing because it seemed cool and I hated it. I dreaded the workouts so I changed. I became an avid runner until it bored me. I took barre until the class times didn’t work with my schedule. Right now, I enjoy walks outside or a gentle (stationary) bike ride or an at-home resistance workout and I love it.
Once you find what movement makes you happy, you’ve just got make the time to do it. Not so easy, right? Here’s two mantras that help me snag time to work out:
Something is better than nothing. Whatever time you have, use it. It could be 15 or 45 minutes. You don’t have to justify your movement, and it doesn’t have to be an intense workout. Any movement is good.
(Trouble getting started? Put in your headphones, turn on your favorite song, and dance it out. You’ll be more likely to keep moving once you’re warmed up.)
I deserve to bless my body. As parents, guilt easily sneaks into our minds when we take time for ourselves. But being a healthy parent and person means it’s vital that you take time for yourself. Also, Medical News Today says the endorphins released during exercise help relieve pain and boost happiness—bonus!
4. Eat healthy by eating what you already LOVE.
We can give our body the nutrients it needs and still enjoy ourselves. (Read: eat your veggies and protein and eat the chocolate cake.) It’s all about balance—not deprivation or strict rule following.
Kelly Leveque, trusted celebrity health coach and holistic nutritionist, sums it up best with her “Fab Four.” You eat fat, fiber, protein, and greens (like spinach, kale or basil) at each meal to feel full, satisfied, and have the energy to do what you want.
This simple formula is easy to remember and execute. You can use it at home when meal planning or while eating out at a restaurant. And it applies to a meal or a snack.
You can eat delicious, healthy meals without them being plain and restrictive. You can enjoy a healthy snack (like banana and peanut butter) without feeling like you’re eating bird seed—sorry, Kashi bars, but I’m looking at you.
Here’s my practical “Fab Four” example: At home, I’ll make pesto chicken with basil (protein and greens), topped with mozzarella cheese (fat) and tomatoes, and have asparagus (fiber). Then, I add some potatoes or other yummy carb; Kelly calls it, “the plus one” factor. Once you’ve got your Fab Four, your blood sugar is balanced, and your body has all the nutrients it needs to thrive. So, add on your plus one—a dessert, a special drink, etc.
5. Don’t do it all.
Prioritizing your health means choosing a healthy habit over an unhealthy one. But don’t try to implement seven new habits all at once. For a new habit to be sustainable, you must focus on just one. Pick one way to move more or one way to eat healthier.
For moving more, it can be as simple as suggesting a walk with friends this weekend, instead of your usual sit-down brunch. For eating better, it can mean choosing to make each breakfast this week a “Fab Four” breakfast.
We can’t change everything at once, but we can change one thing at a time. And over time it will add up and it’s worth it, because you, your health, and your happiness are worth prioritizing.