I have a business to run, kids’ butts to wipe, and a dog that probably needs to get to the vet for the most recent thing she chewed up.
I do not have time for stupid long exercise regimes
Nor do I have excessive amounts of time to prepare intricate meals nightly.
Yet I’m still healthy, I’m strong and I’m happy with my body. And that is something that I’m pretty damn proud about.
Somewhere along the line the term “healthy” has become this all or nothing way of living for too many people. You will live up to the standards you have defined for yourself as “healthy” otherwise you’ve failed.
And you suck.
Yeah no thanks to that lifestyle.
I’m a mom now which means that my time has been completely sucked away by these tiny humans that I love so much. Finding time for a workout…. keeping my nutrition on point?
Well that shit is hard.
But its never been more important.
I have a positive example to set for my girls on so many levels. Loving my body, taking time for myself, importance of strength (physical and emotional) and a healthy relationship with ALL foods.
Not to mention that taking time to workout, well that helps me to not be bat shit crazy. Which I’m sure my whole family appreciates.
Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good
I’ve coached hundreds of different women in my life. One of the most common themes I see recurring is a sense that they are failing at hitting their goals.
They want to workout
And eat healthy
Never give into food temptation
Have a clean house
And have everything go according to plan
When ALL of these things aren’t happening perfectly… then they are failing.
Its so common to miss all the things you ARE doing right and all the progress you HAVE made when one or a few things are falling below your ridiculously high standards.
Perfect is bullshit and it is only happening to people who are lying. Don’t strive for perfect, strive for good enough. Because good enough just might be the thing that keeps you consistent in your quest to improve your life.
This mindset shift? It is THE THING that allows me to have a lean body on a limited time. This is the thing that if you can embrace you might just get a little more consistent. You might stop hating on yourself a little more. Doesn’t that sound appealing?
The 3 E Approach for a Lean Body on Limited Time
I like acronyms. They make things easier to remember AFTER you’re done reading a blog post. The 3 E’s are Eat (Nutrition) Exercise (Moving your body) and Expect Complications (because life).
We’ve made nutrition out to be very complicated.
You’re not going to get fat if you eat a little sugar everyday. You don’t have to only buy organic, eat “clean” (whatever that means), and avoid gluten (unless you’re gluten intolerant) to be healthy. These are all trends that are hot right now.
Don’t follow the trends, they aren’t sustainable in the long term. Stick with the basics.
For me those are.
- Eat Protein
Chances are high that you aren’t eating enough protein. 1.7-1.8 grams of protein PER kg of your body weight is a really great place to shoot for. Personally I eat even more than that because I’m trying to build strength and breastfeed a baby. Plus I’m really hungry like ALL THE TIME.
Benefits of protein:
- It leaves you feeling fuller longer. Satiety is key here. Ever notice how when you eat something that is higher in refined carbs it doesn’t fill you up and almost immediately you’re headed back to the fridge or pantry in search of something else to fill the void? A snack or meal that is higher in protein is going to prevent this from happening.
- Protein helps your body build lean muscle mass. We can get into a number of the specifics on how lean muscle mass helps your metabolism and helps your body burn fat more efficiently but the bottom line is that lean muscle mass on your body helps you to look better naked.
- Your body burns more calories digesting protein vs any other macronutrient (fat or carbs).
Make protein the centerpiece of each meal and snack and then add in your carbs and fat. 25-30 grams per meal plus high protein snacks is a great rule of thumb.
Note about protein bars: These are ok in a pinch. Don’t make them a staple of your diet. They tend to be higher in fat and sugar which can derail you from your overall goal. A few times a week fine. Daily, probably not ideal.
2. Eat Breakfast
For me breakfast is generally the determining factor of how my nutrition is going to go for the day. When I eat a high protein breakfast I generally tend to make better choices throughout the rest of the day. I believe this is because I’m not starving at 10 am. Sure, I often have a mid-morning snack, but I’m not starving for it.
The difference is key.
If I’m starving mid-morning then the cravings strike. I want a muffin or a donut. Not a piece of string cheese and an apple.
I know that when the cravings strike its VERY hard to reign them in. So I do my best to keep them at bay. That starts at breakfast.
Mama loves her coffee in the morning.
After that its water.
80-90+ oz a day. Which is a lot I know.
But just like with breakfast, when I’m hydrated I’m less likely to get cravings. I’m a big proponent of making sugary sweetened drinks a TREAT rather than a mainstay in your diet. Get your calories from food and save the lattes, sodas, and pink drinks (my personal fav) for special occasions when you REALLY want it.
2 tricks to help you stay hydrated.
- Get yourself a good water bottle. This is my personal favorite (with a straw cap)
- Wrap rubber bands around your bottle as a reminder to help you keep drinking. Start with the number of bands that equals how many bottles you should drink that day and then pull a rubber band off each time you refill.
4. Eat Vegetables
I don’t get excited about eating vegetables. Because I’m a normal human. But their importance from a fiber perspective and an overall health perspective can’t be denied. So eating vegetables becomes an important piece of my nutritional equation.
A few ways that I’ve found to work vegetables into a regular part of my diet:
- Always have fresh veggies out on the counter during dinner time prep. Baby carrots and sliced cucumbers seemed to be our go to, but I always have them on the counter while I’m cooking. The whole family snags some throughout the process which feels like a big win.
- Green smoothies. I’m a big fan of adding 4-6 huge handfuls of spinach/kale into the blender with some almond milk and 2 handfuls of frozen fruit.
- Greens in my eggs. Barely notice they are there
- The Oxo Salad chopper makes eating salads much more palatable
- Sometimes I hide vegetables in food
1. Lift heavy shit at least 2x/week
Strength training has done wonders for my body. I’ve gained more lean muscle mass, I wear smaller pants despite gaining weight, and I can carry both of my kids up the stairs without getting winded (HUGE).
More important than the physical benefits of strength training its has improved my self-confidence Lifting weights makes me feel strong, it makes me feel like a badass. And that carries over into my personal life which is really freaking exciting.
So no, lifting weights isn’t going to make you bulky, but it just might improve your overall body composition and your self confidence.
2. Make my lungs burn 3x/week
I’m a big fan of workouts that leave me feeling breathless and have totally exerted my muscles.
But I don’t want to do that shit for a super long amount of time (if that’s your thing though that is totally ok).
For me, I need workouts that are quick and intense. I like to operate on a level 7/10 for the majority of my workout. Obviously in a 15 minute workout I can’t maintain a 7. So I stop, rest for a few seconds (maybe 10, maybe 60) then hop right back in. Short but intense workouts tend to be better from a metabolic perspective (helping your body to burn fat) so I make this type of exercise a key pillar in my overall training.
If you’re into this style of exercise as well but you need some new workout ideas grab my library of free #naptimeworkouts (all 20 minutes or less). Download them here.
3. Yoga and
Ok lets be honest. There isn’t a lot of leisure walking when you’re a mom. Because its unlikely you can walk without your kids and walking with them can prove to be quite stressful at times. As much as I can walk with or without my kids I try to though. It does wonders for my mood.
I strive to make at least 1 yoga class a week. Here’s why:
It is literally the only place where it seems socially acceptable to do what your body is calling you to do today. There is no competition and the whole idea of it is that it is a practice. My whole life feels about speed. Do more faster, be the best, push yourself.
That is some type A shit right there.
If you know me then you know I’m wound up pretty darn tight. Just an hour a week of yoga is enough to help me work to undo some of that hard wiring.
4. Move My Body
Exercise is a super important part of my life but as of lately I’m trying to put just as much emphasis on daily movement as I am exercise.
What does that even mean?
Doing some hard ass workout for an hour or less a day and then sitting on my butt for the next 8-10 hours is a super counterproductive strategy for being healthy. There is a growing trend of people being active but also sedentary.
For me this looks like alternating between sitting and standing when I work (ask your work to get you a stand up desk), walking when I’m phone calls (even pacing), deep squat holds throughout the day (weird I know), and wearing my garmin activity tracker to keep me mindful of hitting at least 10,000 steps a day.
Other ways to implement movement into your life?
- Take the stairs
- Park far away and walk
- Chase your dog around for a few minutes
- Set an hourly timer to remind you to get up and move for 5 minutes
Exercise is only going to do so much to encourage your metabolism to burn. Your non-exercise activities have such an important part in helping your metabolism to work more effectively. Making movement an important part of your daily lifestyle can have a dramatic impact in your overall health.
E- Expect Complications
I’ve been a mom now for just over 3 years. I think I’m finally realizing that there is ALWAYS SOMETHING getting in the way of my best laid exercise and nutrition plans. I’ve learned I can fight that or I can start to expect it and roll with it.
A little bit of preemptive planning goes a long ways in helping me navigate the normal #momproblems that come up.
1. Plan meals in advance
When dinner is left to chance we end up ordering pizza or something similar. Though eating healthy is a priority in my life I’m also not immune to the pressures that we moms face in trying to do way to much in way to little time.
I follow this simple strategy to make eating healthy as easy as possible in our home:
Plan our meals on Friday or Saturday (the weekly chef created recipes we have in my coaching program help).
Grocery shop on Saturday
Some amount of meal prep on Sunday. Sometimes this look like me actually getting all of our meals ready for the week and sometimes its as simple as chopping a few veggies for each of the meals for the week. I simply do what I can.
Lastly, and this is a biggie, I make sure that we have enough leftovers for me to re-make on the nights that I’m alone with the kids. My husband works late 2 nights a week. So have a dinner and bedtime all on my own. For a LONG time I tried to make an entire meal that night which was the worst idea ever. Simply by adjusting my expectations and eating leftovers or a super easy meal my stress level has decreased substantially.
Remember, you can’t do it all.
2. Have workout buddies
Sometimes the only thing that gets me to workout is having friends that workout. The gang of weirdos I call my friends provide the accountability I need to get my act together some days. Since we are all busy moms its RARE that we all 4 can make it to the same place at the same time, but we try and when we can’t we use an incredible app called voxxer, to walkie-talkie (sounds lamer than it is) each other and check in on how we are all doing at getting our workout in for the day.
Find a friend, join a class, do what you have to do to get some accountability around your workouts. The women in my small group coaching program RELY on the accountability they each bring to the table for each other.
3. I Throw Food Away
I, like other normal humans go to the grocery store and bring home cookies once in awhile. I don’t feel bad about that fact. I bring them home, I eat a few, and then generally I THROW THEM AWAY.
Sometimes I just need a cookie or 2 or 7. And that is fine. But I’ve found that if I keep them in the house I will eat them because they are there, not because I actually want one. So I do myself a solid and toss the thing that tempts me after it has served its purpose.
Try it sometime.
I know it seems like a lot. This might not be the exact formula that works for you.
I simply want to encourage you to find the right mix of elements that helps you automate your workouts and nutrition. Do a few things well consistently rather than trying to do everything perfectly (and only being able to manage that 1-2x a week if you’re lucky). Your body will respond.
Want to work with me?– I put together a FREE 14 day workout plan for moms who are super busy but still want to get their workout in. 2 weeks of 10 minute workouts you can do anywhere plus a workout calendar so you know EXACTLY what to do when.