When it comes to eating healthy and staying fit when you are busy--it is a very difficult thing to do. Whether you are a stay-at-home mom of four, working a full-time job and going to school or trying to start your business and learn all the things--I know that you have felt the pain that comes with juggling numerous obligations. Many would say--well, it is just too much, you should cut something out; that is not a reality for most of us. There are phases of life that require a high work output at a high capacity, a lot of the time to make ends meet.
Eating healthy, exercising AND maintaining a household environment when you are busy, constantly multi-tasking and overcommitted may appear to be a non-starter. Most of the time, what appears to be the easiest thing to do is to sacrifice our health--that sacrifice may be cutting out sleep, cooking a nourishing meal at home and/or putting exercise on the non-essential list.
This rhythm can get comfortable very quickly--in the process we are unknowingly sacrificing our health and perhaps digging a hole that will be much more difficult to get out of in the long run. Over the long term, these sacrifices impact our ability to efficiently perform the tasks we prioritize. This means a lot of extra stress when performing the tasks that are making us busy to start with!
So here is how it works:
Too busy = Sacrifice health = Less efficient and productive = Even BUSIER!!
Yeah, um....been there and no thank you, I prefer not going back!
So, here is WHY it is so incredibly important to prioritize eating healthy, following an exercise program, and building a system that allows you to stay consistent through this inevitably busy phase of life. There are skills that allow you to do all of this and build resilience during this time. The REALLY cool thing to remember is that the simple act of carrying out behaviors such as eating a nourishing breakfast instead of just drinking coffee and eating 3 hours later and knowing what foods to include to maintain blood sugar balance, will also work in collaboration to reduce overall inflammation, especially brain inflammation which can and will cause more fogginess and exhaustion!
Top Tips For Eating Healthy When You are Busy!
1. Bulk Prep Like a Pro!
Cooking more with less time when you are busy requires a strategy! When you do have the time to cook, take a recipe and double or even triple the portions. So that also means, have in mind the tools that you need to stash the extra food that you prepare!
This might include:
Ziplock freezer bags--to store soups or broths, meatballs, muffins, cookies, bars, etc.
Freezer safe glass pyrex dishes--to store casseroles or dishes that won't freeze well in a bag
Baking sheets--to freeze your soups or broths on flat in the freezer
Silicone baking cups--muffin cups, popsicle molds or mini loaf pans
Chest or upright freezer--if you have space and it fits the budget, this is a lifesaver!!
There are A LOT of other gadgets and tools that you can use to up level this process. Label makers, vacuum sealers, space savers and storage solutions for your freezer. If you have the resources...go for it!! But, trust me you can do all you need with the tools I listed above!
2. Invest in Your Home Gym!
This is absolutely one strategy that I could not have lived without over the last 13 years! Whether it is your unfinished garage or your spare bedroom or a corner of the playroom...adopting the mindset that, "it is just perfect" will bring you massive ROI!. My home gym has evolved over the years and my sons' friends refer to it as 'Mrs. Amy's sanctuary' because I am constantly kicking them out of the garage and off of my equipment. I protect it with all costs! LOL!
But seriously, you will not regret investing in the equipment that saves you time, allows you to be consistent with your training and is only steps away from you when you are at home! The trade-off...the ambiance may not be what you are use to, the energy you will need to cultivate and you likely will be interrupted a time or 10 by your kids. BUT!!! I can assure you that you will be WAY more consistent with that 60 minute training session than the 90-120 minutes that it will take to drive to the gym, park, do your thing, return home and then reaclimate. You also won't need to find anyone to watch your kids OR pay for the child activity center at the gym...WINNING!!
If you are looking for a fun way to train your pelvic floor and core in an integrated way, check out my training program, Total Body Core and More!! All you will need for tools is the functional integrated tool, Pelvicore Pro (use code ASCOACH for $10 off)! I wrote this program for moms who are interested in reintegrating their pelvic floor and core in a way that actually gives them a workout instead of just lying on the floor doing breathing exercises, which have their place, but it should not be the only input!
There are so many coaches that bring fun training programs into your world, check out Train Heroic, for another AWESOME resource!!
Equipment wise...if you are on a budget, invest in the basics!! Dumbbells, bands and a sticky yoga mat for ground to standing patterns. A stability ball still has its place and a wall anchor (think hardware store) for somewhere sturdy to attach your bands...I recommend NOT using a banister (just sayin'). "Functional" training tools abound but, I highly recommend...ViPR Pro!! I have TONS of workouts on Instagram and some on my YouTube page as well (don't judge the YouTube, I am still a team of one, so...it's in development!)! I am not paid to encourage ViPR Pro but, I have been a user personally and professionally with clients for 10 years and you will love this tool!!
Then if you have the space/budget...invest in a power driven piece of cardio equipment, like a rower or assault bike (aka air dyne bike). If you have a safe place to walk/jog, skip the treadmill, it is better for your pelvic floor, hips and back to walk outside! Then maybe you layer in things like a squat rack, pull-up bar, stability tools, barbells, bumper plates. BUT, again, start with the lowest cost investment and go from there!!
Shop with a Strategy!
First, I will share my current strategy and one that I have been able to maintain for the last 13 years with some flexibility for work.
Thursday, write out dinner menu for the upcoming Saturday through Friday.
Thursday, check over availability of breakfast and lunchbox staples in fridge, freezer and pantry.
Thursday check the stores I frequent most for sales or specials and write out my list in order of my route around the store to get in and out quick.
Friday, go shopping, clean and stash all the produce for easy access to everything.
The most important step is including WHEN to prepare/take meat, broth, etc. out of the freezer to thaw. This is SUPER important because if you plan for a dinner on Wednesday that will take 1 hour to make and you have 2 sports practices, plus a late arrival home from work...guess what won't happen--that dinner! Instead, plan to make that Wednesday dinner on Monday or Tuesday if you have more time. If you have no time in the evening and you are gone all day for 3 days in a row...introduce the family to roasts or casseroles! Keep it simple but strategy is a must!
Now, when nursing school starts in 32 days as of this post (January 8, 2024), I will have to switch my strategy like I have done before. BUT, the system stays in-tact. How it runs is the difference.
4. Don't Be Afraid To Break Convention At Meal Times: On the go and no-prep strategies!
I would LOVE to say, I never eat on the run and our family always sits down to a meal together where we talk about the day, laugh and connect. Well, that would be a total BS story. TRUTH, many dinners, in-fact most dinners are eaten when everyone is able. Sometimes the girls get home from school at 4pm and are ready for dinner. The boys have homework and play outside, sports/activities which means a hearty snack at 3:00 and dinner is waiting in the oven for them to eat in their room while chatting online with their friends at 6:30 or 7. When it is sports night for the girls, they will eat before early and then again a hearty snack before bed. I am eating when it is most peaceful which is before the girls get home around 330. Everything looks different the nights I am at the hospital and it will again shift when I am in school! I would love for everyone to sit down together and eat peacefully. Like, LOVE IT!!!! But, we would have to cut out all afterschool activities/sports and that would cause more harm than good. So we roll with it!
The purpose of sharing this is to say...there is a phase of life that is just, BUSY. That "busy" looks different for everyone but it may mean that meal times are not what you picture, it may mean that in order to nourish your body and eat at a time that allows digestion and absorption of nutrients you have to eat ahead of the crowd so you can support them in getting their nourishment. The most important thing is that you fit in your nutrition with as little stress as possible and your kids do as well!
No-prep meal strategies also could look like using products like US Wellness Meats Beef Liverwurst and some Mary's Gone Crackers along with carrots for a hearty snack. Throwing together deli meat with Siete tortillas and a raw cheddar with prewashed arugula and ranch is a simple meal. Use cottage cheese, a can of sardines, some cherry tomatoes and a couple mandarins for a hearty snack or portion it up for a meal. The key is to be broad with palate and creative with your approach to nourishing your body! That makes consistency SOOOOO much easier to achieve!!
I have more, BUT...I will save that for the next post. I will however leave you with a quote that I LOVE and I hope will inspire you to step back, keep a big picture approach to your health and think...BE A MASTER OF THE BASICS! Like, totally crush them and feel really confident that the SIMPLE interventions that may seem hard at first will make a HUGE dent in your health in a positive way!!