When I was in my late 20s and early 30s, I prided myself on my commitment to my health.
It was a rare day that I missed a workout, and I consistently ate more and more healthy foods, owing to my newfound vegetarianism.
Despite my ongoing challenges with emotional eating and body dysmorphia, I had developed habits that kept me effortlessly on track to look and feel my best.
Then I had kids.
Being a mom is no joke. The wheels can come off the bus at any moment, derailing your day no sooner than your first sip of coffee.
Not only that, being a mom means anticipating the needs of everyone around you, mostly at the expense of your own. Once you become a mom, it’s easy to lose any semblance of healthy habits.
And when your identity starts transforming from who you are into who you are to other people, it’s easy to lose yourself.
It’s easy to be in the trenches with your kids and forget that you’re an actual person — who used to have goals and dreams. Then the days turn into years, and before you know it, you’re looking in the mirror and thinking, What happened?
But don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be this way. With a few simple strategies in place, you can regain control of your health — and be an even better mom.
So despite the stage of parenting you’re in, these strategies will absolutely help you get back on track. Even if you don’t have kids — or they’ve already left the nest — you can still benefit.
And the good news is that fall is the perfect time to get started. After all, your kids get a fresh start, so why shouldn’t you?
5 Steps to Get Healthy This Fall
1. Make a plan. Choose 4 to 6 habits you’d like to change, with a timeline of 3 months. (Even though fall is 4 months long, this accounts for holidays.)
Your goal is to change up to 2 habits per month, or one every two weeks. (One per month is perfectly fine.) Start with the easiest habit and add from there. You’re working to transform a bad habit into a good one, not radically overhaul everything you do.
2. Combine your plan with a big goal. I cannot stress this enough: the positive energy you get by setting an exciting goal supercharges your weight-loss efforts. Why? Because it diverts your attention from what you look like to what you’re capable of. It’s confidence-boosting — and what mom doesn’t need that?
Get out your journal and come up with a goal that both challenges you and energizes you. It doesn’t have to be crazy; do a 5K, take a cooking class, or plan a trip. Come up with roughly ten steps to achieve the goal, the smaller the better. Aim to complete 1 step per week, and start with the easiest one — as soon as possible!
3. Have a daily framework. Sometimes the simplest actions provide the biggest results — and when you combine them, they amplify all your efforts. Here are some mom-related tips to help you stay on track each day:
- But first . . . make your kitchen a well-oiled machine. Having a disorganized, cluttered kitchen is a recipe for failure (sorry, I couldn’t help it). Spend a few days before school starts to overhaul your kitchen — the success of your 3-month plan depends on it. You can find the step-by-step process here.
- Prep your kids’ things the night before. Pack lunches, organize backpacks, lay out clothes. If your kids are older, make sure they have everything they need to walk out the door, so your morning starts out stress-free.
- Get up at least 30 minutes early. It’s essential to center yourself for your day, or your day will easily get derailed. Commit to having some time alone to get focused and mentally prepare for your day. Read something inspiring to keep yourself motivated.
- Maximize waiting times. Sitting in the doctor’s office, waiting for activities to wrap up, or hanging out in the carpool line are the perfect opportunities to recommit to your goals. Bring your journal with you wherever you go and make notes on your progress and keep yourself on track.
4. Factor in holidays. As I said earlier, it’s important to plan for holidays. It is just not realistic to be rigid with yourself for three straight months — in fact, that’s a sure path to failure. That being said, having fun over the holidays with your family doesn’t mean it has to be a free-for-all. You just have to find the balance.
It’s important to plan your holidays in advance; don’t leave anything to chance. If certain family situations are triggering, decide how you will handle them. If Halloween candy is your downfall, have something else on hand to replace it.
5. Reward yourself. Rewarding yourself for your progress is so important for success, but it is the step that most often gets neglected.
But here’s the key to rewards: you have to choose them in advance. Knowing that you’re going to claim the reward is what keeps you motivated to continue. Choose your milestone, and pair it with a reward, big or small. And make sure to write it down!
You’re Not “Just a Mom”
It’s so tempting to blame your lack of results on outside circumstances — and this is especially easy to do when you’re the caretaker of an entire family. (And no one, least of all me, would tell you that you’re wrong.)
The easiest thing to do is hit the ground running, drop your kids off, and come home and crawl back in bed. And then tell yourself all kinds of stories about how you’re too tired or don’t have enough time to be healthy.
But that is absolutely not the case — and with a plan in place, you can feel confident that you’re in total control of your health. And you can get results, despite being overwhelmingly busy.
The best news is that by committing to this new fall routine, you can start 2023 off without feeling bloated, exhausted, and disappointed — then having to make a hundred New Year’s resolutions or start yet another diet.
Remember, you’re not “just a mom.” You’re a woman with limitless potential, and you deserve to live your life reaching it — not wasting it on a diet. 💗