Although I am not a mother myself, I am privileged to know some great ones. This Mother’s Day some wonderful members of my fitness family agreed to answer some questions on all things health, being a mom, and the joys and challenges that accompany them. Get ready to be moved…
How do you make time with the craziness of raising a family to create healthy snacks, healthy meals, and healthy ideas in your home?
We talk about health a lot in our family and how it affects everything we do. For example, if we don’t eat the right healthy blends of food, we’ll be tired and can’t have fun running around or staying alert to read a fun book, etc… and we talk about how getting enough rest affects our moods. My 7-year-old and 4-year-old know their food groups well and recognize when a healthy lean protein is missing or a fruit/vegetable is absent. We think it’s so important to instill these ideas in their heads now so that when they get older they intrinsically know how important those choices are for their holistic well-being.
I also have a group of close friends with whom I stay close on email regarding healthy recipes, fitness tips, etc… that I try to incorporate into our daily routine. I follow a few blogs (Habitude Fitness, for example!) that help keep me on course and motivated. It’s hard to go the course alone, so having “my people” alongside with me makes the journey a little bit easier and lot more fun. -Liz
Would you say that it is easy,difficult, or somewhere in between to carve out time for yourself to be healthy, fit, and active?
It is much harder than I expected to carve out time for my own healthy habits. It is definitely a learning process. If I give myself an hour prep to cut up fruits a veggies as soon as I bring them home, I have a much better success rate at reaching for those. If I don’t do it right away, I am much more likely to skip eating all together or reach for something yucky. -Abbie
I think it depends on what season I’m in. When I have a little more time and am deliberate about organizing my day between work, family, friends, me… it seems like it’s easier. When the holidays hit, or I’m traveling, or work is busy, it’s a lot more difficult. But I’ll say, in those times of busyness, if I force myself to be healthy, fit, and active, everything else seems easier too. My mood is better, I sleep more deeply, my energy level is higher to tackle the mountain of things going on. And of course, the reverse is true-it’s far more difficult to get motivated and be efficient when I’m exercise & rest deprived. -Liz
Once I decided it was a priority for me to be fit I made the time and now it truly is a habit. I am on autopilot when it comes to my gym routine. I actually schedule all other appointments around my workouts.Your health and well-being really is the best gift you can give your family. -Jen
What is the most difficult part of maintaining your healthy habitude while being Mom?
Making time for yourself is the hardest. I have a little person that depends on me for everything, so my hunger or workout plans get pushed aside. -Abbie
Hands down it’s the trap that all moms fall in to… putting everyone before myself. “My daughter has a competition coming up, my son is sick, my husband is traveling…” Of course all of those things are important, but I’m often reminded of that oxygen mask analogy where they tell you to put your mask on first before helping someone else. Why? IF WE DON’T TAKE CARE OF OURSELVES, WE WON’T BE WELL ENOUGH TO CARE FOR OTHERS. Obviously there are moderation to that. I don’t need to be at the gym 4 hours a day to take care of myself at the expense of caring for my family and spending time with them, but I can certainly carve out 30 minutes a day! -Liz
Why do you want your family to be healthy?
I want my family to be healthy because I want them to enjoy life fully and without being brought down by preventable illness and fatigue. I’ve seen friends and family members struggle with heart disease, diabetes, obesity, etc… and it doesn’t just stop with the condition, it prevents them from engaging with life to its full extent. And so much of it could have been addressed with simple adjustments to diet and exercise. When it’s our time to Go, it’s time. But while we have this one life, why not make the most of it? -Liz
What does “balance” look like for your family?
Balance for us starts with God first. When we have that foundation straight, everything else is put in perspective. From there, we prioritize family/friends, then work. We’ve been trying (not always successfully) to really name the things that are most important and goals we have and ruthlessly prioritize those above other things. And that means saying “no” to certain activities, which is hard, but it keeps us whole and sane. Patrick Lencioni wrote a book called The 3 Big Questions for a Frantic Family. I highly recommend it. He talks about being intentional about naming your family’s mission, culture, goals, etc… and staying true to those things by behaving in ways that are consistent with making it happen. -Liz
In what ways is your family active?
I have learned to incorporate my workouts with play time. Blake is at a very active age, so we take walks and bike rides together, run around inside and outside, I even use her as a free weight for lunges, squats, and arm workouts. She thinks it’s a blast and I get some activity in!
Summer time is easy for activity! We run around outside, swim, make up games. The (never-ending) winter time is a different story- a lot more challenging. Often I’ll stick a workout DVD in and the kids are right along side me kicking and punching or doing push-ups. Our 7-year-old has been doing Tae Kwon Do for a year now and needless to say, she gets a crazy awesome workout there. Our 4-year-old is almost ready to be in some kind of organized activity… Tae Kwon Do is probably on the horizon for him. My husband is a runner and my fitness hero. For as long as I’ve known him, he’s prioritized health and fitness very highly. He has motivated me to become more consistent and after watching his countless running races, I was inspired to take up running myself. I like that the kids are watching us train for these races and discuss our preparation, etc. because they are recognizing its importance in our lives and hopefully it will influence them in years to come. -Liz
What are some of your favorite healthy recipes to include in your meal planning?
I consider myself a good cook, but I learned what I know from my grandma, a definite comfort foods cook. I’ve learned to cook the meals we love, but add some extras and make simple swaps. We love spaghetti, so I make it with high fiber whole wheat noodles, or the ones with “hidden veggies”. I always add spinach and carrots in the sauce, and I use canned tomato puree instead of the jar sauces full of sugar. Adding parsnips to mashes potatoes works great. And loading up a homemade whole wheat pizza with tons of fresh veggies and no meat. My meat loving husband loves that meal the most! -Abbie
I have a lot of go-to’s, but a few of my more recent faves include:
Blueberry Crisp Healthy dessert or great morning start with some Greek yogurt! Found in an AWESOME book called Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequest… read it!
Kale Salad Made this at Cassie’s farewell party – got a lot of requests for this recipe!
A great side is organic Yukon gold potatoes, diced, drizzled with organic EVOO, black pepper. Bake 425 degrees until crispy then add a dash of sea salt. Any lean protein is good. Sunset has great grass-fed meat and organic chicken. Broccoli is our go to veggie that we all like. -Jen
What advice do you have for other moms out there who are trying to be health conscious themselves and raise healthy kids?
Start where you are! It doesn’t have to be perfect – a work in progress is just fine, but DON’T DELAY just start! Little by little, it will become a habitude and suddenly you’ll look back and wonder what life was like without it. -Liz
It’s great if you can start healthy habits from birth but it’s never too late. I wish I had the knowledge I do now about our food supply and harmful ingredients. When Chase was little, he was fussy about food and ate his fair share of happy meals. Over the last few years I’ve slowly replaced the cocoa pebbles with organic “chocolate o’s” and organic string cheese instead of garbage filled Go-gurt. My family has been good sports for the most part. I do hear the occasional, “you take all the fun out of food” to which I reply, “no, the food companies did”. And we joke that we are no longer eating butts and beaks in mystery chicken nuggets. My boy has actually lost his sweet tooth since I really watch the sugar too. School lunches are a filled with carbs and fat so although it’s a little extra effort on my part, I pack him nitrate free ham, fruit and GMO free chips (and an occasional homemade treat!) He is a healthy, happy, active kid with a healthy BMI. -Jen
What do you hope your kids pick up from observing your ideas around being healthy? Is there anything you hope they don’t pick up?
I hope they hear positive thoughts about health and desire it for themselves – not just because we said so. I hope they don’t become overly obsessed with weight – because very little is actually about that, but since it’s an indicator, it’s so easy to get swept away with the focus on the output. -Liz
If you are pregnant (or were recently) How did you stay healthy, how did you attitudes shifts, and what did you learn about being healthy while pregnant?
I changed my focus on health during my pregnancies and realized that everything I was eating, the exercise I was (or was not doing)-all of it directly impacted the health and start for my baby. -Liz
If you had to pick one thing, what would you say is the best thing about being Mom?
I feel blessed to be the one God chose to be Blake’s mommy. She is the smartest, funniest, sweetest girl I know. I love everything about it. Teaching her, watching her discover the world, even the 3 am snuggles.
The best thing about being a mom is learning the depth of love that I didn’t know I was capable of. And if my love for my kids is so intense and so deep, how much greater is the love of our perfect Father God for us. It’s breath-taking. -Liz
I hear other moms always saying they miss the baby days and wish they could stop time but I think the best thing about being a mom is watching my boy become such an incredible person. I have enjoyed and continue to enjoy every milestone and every stage. I must admit, I won the kid lottery and he makes me proud to be his mom every day. -Jen
Happy Mother’s Day to the women in our lives who give so much! Spend the weekend showing your gratitude habitude!