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staying healthy when you don’t have a lot of time

November 25, 2009

Fitting exercise and healthy cooking into an already hectic schedule can be a daunting task.  As a full-time working mother (with an unfortunate 40 minute commute each way), I feel the pain!!!  I want to share a few tricks that help me keep up my happily healthy lifestyle.

1) When trying to fit in exercise, make sure you plan it for the time of day that is right for you. I am a morning person, always have been.  Even if I had hours of free time in the evening, I wouldn’t exercise.  And as a mommy, after missing my little boy all day, I want to spend time with him after work. 

To open up some time in the morning, I pack my breakfast (which I eat at work), lunch, and snacks the night before, as well as get the daycare bag ready.  This allows me to have time to do a little moving in the a.m.  It’s amazing what a little schedule tweaking can do.

2) Find a form (or forms) of exercise you truly enjoy.  If you don’t like to run, don’t run.  If you like exercise dvds and hate the gym, don’t get a gym membership.  Habits are easy to form when they involve something you actually like.  My weekday workouts start on my home elliptical with a magazine, followed by yoga.  The amount of time I spend on one or the other depends on how I’m feeling.  Some mornings I want to stay on the elliptical, others I just want to get my blood moving a little and then stretch myself silly.  I have no rules.  The level and speed on the elliptical varies, the number of sun salutations and sequence of poses varies.  I listen to my body, after all it is the one part of my day that is all about me. 

3) If you use a treadmill or elliptical, try reading a magazine or watching TV while you workout.  I find time flies when I am entertained.

4) Plan your meals.  Knowing what needs to be done to get dinner on the table makes life so much easier for me.

5) Prep your meals when possible.  If I make roasted butternut squash on Monday, I usually peel and cut the squash when making dinner on Sunday.  I love being able to just throw a roasting pan in the oven and play with the boy while dinner cooks.

6) Make extras and freeze some when you can.  Whenever we make homemade veggie burgers or bean patties we always freeze some.  There is nothing like a homemade meal with no effort on a weekday night.

7) Don’t be compulsive about your food ideals.  Yes, soaking and cooking dried beans is wonderful.  But canned beans are a healthy and inexpensive convenience food. 

8) Choose weekday meals without a lot of hands on time (including clean up time).  One pot meals are a wonderful thing, especially when it’s time to do the dishes.

9) Simple meals can still be delicious too.  You don’t need 30 different vegetables to have a healthy meal.  Last night we ate quinoa with black beans and spinach.  When the quinoa was almost done cooking I added a can of black beans, baby spinach, a little tomato paste, salt, pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil.  An easy one pot meal that was healthy, inexpensive, child friendly, and delicious.

Most importantly, be kind to yourself.  The time you spend exercising and dining should be ejoyable parts of your day.  No one is perfect, and a frozen pizza can be memorable too.  In fact, I got engaged over one of these:

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