Dieting and weight loss can be especially difficult when you’re a busy mom. When you’ve got to choose between a trip to gym and getting your son to soccer practice, there’s no contest. Your workout loses. These weight loss tips for busy moms and dads focus on some of the biggest challenges parents face when they’re trying to lose weight, get healthy and stay fit.
Move with Your Kids
Don’t give up your workout to get your kids to soccer practice – work out AT soccer practice. If you’re going to be there anyway, why not volunteer to coach or be an assistant coach? The most important part of any workout is to get moving – so get out there and move with your kids instead of sitting on the sidelines.
Change Everyone’s Diet
It’s hard to stick to a diet when the rest of your family is enjoying your favorite foods and you can’t partake. The fact of the matter is that every member of your family will benefit from eating healthier meals. Substitute olive oil for oils that are less healthy. Serve fresh green salads and fruit with every meal. You’ll lose weight – and your children won’t have to break unhealthy eating habits when they get older.
Skip Convenience Meals
It’s tempting to pick up convenience meals, especially those that tout themselves as low calorie, low fat or otherwise healthy. In fact, independent studies have often found that many of the most popular weight loss meals often far exceed the calories listed on the package. In addition, they’re likely to be laden with extra salt and artificial sweeteners, which may not add calories but aren’t great for your health in other ways.
Store Portion-Size Leftovers and Meals
Make your weight loss goals a little easier to achieve by wrapping leftovers in single-portion sizes. It will help you get used to what a portion actually looks like, and serve as a visual and behavioral cue to help you restrict your eating to a single portion.
Pack One More Lunch
When you’re packing lunch for the kids to take to school, add one more lunchbox and pack it for yourself. It only takes an extra minute or two because you’re already in lunch-packing mode. You’ll eat healthier, and be more aware of what you’re putting into your mouth.
Get Your Kids in on Meal and Grocery Planning
Creating healthy meals starts with planning your grocery shopping. When you shop with a list, you’re more likely to stick to the good, healthy, whole foods that are best for you and your family. Want even more encouragement to shop and eat healthy? Sit down with your kids and the weekly grocery circulars to plan your shopping and menus for the week. You’ll be teaching your kids valuable lessons about healthy eating and reinforcing your own healthy eating habits while sharing some family time.
Don’t Serve Family Style
Instead of serving from serving dishes at the table, serve up individual plates restaurant style. Family style service encourages you – and your family – to take outsize portions of food. When servings are already dished out, everyone eats healthier portions, including you.
Don’t Clean Their Plates
If kids don’t finish their meals, resist the temptation to polish off the last one or two bites. It may hurt to throw the food away, but they’ll do the compost heap more good than they will your waistline.
Make Dinner Time a Sacred Family Time
Study after study has shown that when people eat in front of the television or while doing other things, they tend to overeat. Insist that the entire family sit together at the table for dinner – and breakfast if you can manage it. Use the time to talk and enjoy each other’s company. Talking at the table slows down eating, letting your brain catch up with the fact that your stomach is getting full.
Serve Breakfast Each Morning
People who eat breakfast take in fewer calories over the course of the day, research has shown, but that’s only one of the benefits of having breakfast together before school and work. It’s a chance to connect with your family before you head off into the world, and provides fuel for your body and brain after a night’s fast. Your kids will benefit, too. Research shows that kids who eat a healthy breakfast are less likely to have behavioral problems and more likely to do well in their lessons at school.
Take a Walk Together After Dinner
The evening constitutional used to be an honored family tradition, but it’s been lost in our hustle and bustle world. Get back into the habit of moving after dinner. Clear the table and put away leftovers, then take a walk or bike ride around the block as a family. Physical activity after a meal helps your body digest the food, and increases your metabolism so that you burn the energy instead of storing it as fat. If you make it into a “date” with your kids, you’ll be less likely to skip the exercise your body needs.
These are just a few of the many ways you can fit weight loss strategies and fitness activities into your busy day – and include your kids in them. Not only will you lose weight faster, you’ll be teaching your kids healthy eating and lifestyle habits so that they’ll never have to struggle with losing weight like you do.