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I decided to walk to the corner grocery store at the end of the afternoon yesterday – the weather was mild, for a Winter day in the North East, and the 10 minutes walk felt really good after an afternoon spent working on my computer and the title of this post came to me: tips for moms: sleep, exercise and food.
I found myself thinking that while I have been diligent with my 2 or 3 times a week swims, I have not exercised at home or gone or walks in weeks. Not good. And I have no excuses. Time wise, I only have myself to care for. As soon as the sidewalks are free of ice, I’ll add a regular 30 minutes walk 2 or 3 times a week.
It got me thinking of all you mommies out there building a business working from home, working outside the home or stay at home moms with young ones around. As the year is still new I have come up with some ideas to get me, and hopefully many of you will find a way to add some of my suggestions in your workday.
And I remembered the times when I had young children and I was working, studying at University, taking care of my mom who at some point was in a nursing home and Oh!, was I tired, even though I tried to sleep as much as I needed, doing some exercise, mostly walking (I did not have a car) but not eating the best, especially while in University.
Let’s look at what you absolutely need to do if you want to be in the game long term, and have energy for life, love and fun too.
Moms, you need your sleep. You have probably heard that most people are sleep deprived. That people who drive sleep deprived as as dangerous as those who drive under the influence. That many disasters in the world have happened when people in charge were overly tired. That there is a false bravado among many to boast about how little sleep they need.
Sleep is needed for health and to help you make the best decisions, as well as save time. Our health is dependent on sleep because our body and brain repair while we sleep. We are also nicer to be around when well rested. We can better deal with stress, making our relationships both at home and at work a lot more pleasant. And we are more productive when we are well rested. Any work that requires brain power is best done after a good night sleep.
Sleep is also important for our beauty as well as our ability to keep a healthy weight. Lack of sleep contributes to making us crave food, usually of the unhealthy kind, not only because we feel tired but because lack of sleep lowers leptin, which is an appetite suppressant hormone and increases ghrelin, an appetite stimulant hormone.
How I do it: I need a good 8 hours sleep and I cannot function if I don’t get it. It’s not just that I feel tired. I absolutely need it. Because I tend to wake up once or twice during the night, I need to factor this in when I plan my sleep. Fortunately I do not have to wake up early, so it’s not much of a problem. On the other hand I don’t like to sleep later than 8 a.m., so most nights see me with the lights out before 11 p.m., usually around 10:40. That way I am certain that I will have the sleep I need even if it is interrupted.
One more tip: most of us have a 90 minutes sleep cycle. Calculate how many you need to figure out what’s the best time to go to bed so your alarm clock does not wake you up when you are in deep sleep.
We also need to move our body – whether we call it exercise or not. I believe I was a lot slimmer a few years ago was partially due to the fact I did not have a car. In fact, I remember gaining 10 pounds in the first year I bought my first car. I was not going to the gym but I was walking everywhere – probably around 3 or 4 miles a day (5-6 kms) most weekdays.
I know most of you may not have the time to walk for an hour a day. But if you do, please do. Walking has been studied and found to be one of the cheapest and most health positive exercises you can do. Aim to walk briskly, about 3 miles per hour (5kms) which is very doable, especially on flat terrain.
If you don’t have that much time, here are some ways to add minutes of exercise to your work day.
. Walk to work, or park as far as you can
. If you take the bus, get off a couple stops before your destination
. Get up and walk for a few minutes every hour or so during your workday
. Take the stairs at work, either in the morning or at the end of the day.
. Go out for a 15 minutes walk at lunch – you can do almost a mile just then, more if you are young and in good shape
. Aim for another 15 minutes walk before or after dinner. There are 96 fifteen minutes slots in a day. Surely you can fit in one or two
How I do it:
. I continue my tai chi classes It’s a one hour class a week and while it’s not cardio work, it is one hour of standing, moving, kicking, turning on one leg and other moves It’s enough exercise that I drink a half liter of water at every class
. I have registered for ballroom dancing again. Depending on the dances involved, it can be a mild cardio exercise and leg work. Even the arms get a workout if I keep the form (instead of falling into my partner). Here again I need to drink water during the 60 minutes class.
. I just started Argentine tango classes. It’s a 90 minute workout without stop. It’s fun, with a steep learning curve and I definitely need to drink water. Because it’s a long class I definitely feel my muscles when I get home.
. I swim laps at least twice a week, for between 30 and forty minutes each time. I always feel 20 years younger when I come out of the pool.
Other ideas to exercise at home when you can’t get out
. Dance – salsa, chacha, triple swing for 15-20 minutes. Youtube has great dance music videos. Do a 15-20 minutes cardio workout – again you can find one that fits your level of fitness on youtube
. If you have stairs in your home, you can do like me and pretend you are at work and do the stairs. Imagine you work on the 4th floor, and do your one set of stairs up and down 4 times. If you are in top shape, do more
. Do strength training a couple of times a week – you can use free weights if you have them or do it using your body weight. Again, you can find everything you need on youtube. Strength training is important to keep healthy bones as well as to keep your metabolism running on high.
Moms in general tend to forget to sit down to enjoy their meals and work at home moms often find it even harder to take the time to eat a nutritious meal at lunch time, even more so if there are young ones to be fed and cared for.
I know when I am working on my blog or reading a course, etc., I find it hard to get away from what I totally enjoy and can never find enough hours to do. But taking time away from the desk is crucial so you can feed your body healthy food to keep your health and your energy up all day.
Here are some tips to help you have a healthy meal in the middle of the day. Eating healthy is a high priority for me – so the tips I give here are those I use every day.
. Cook a few meals’ worth of rice or pasta on Sunday evening,
. Again, on Sunday evening, make a big vegetable stir fry, or make a big batch of mashed carrots. My stir fry favorite veggies: onions, sweet pepper and celery.
. While you are at it, put a chicken in the oven, or a small roast – that way there will be protein for the first few meals of the week. I love turkey and even though I am alone, I recently cooked a small turkey, kept some to eat, and froze the rest in 3 different containers, to thaw as needed.
. If you don’t eat much meat, canned tuna or wild salmon is a time saver, and I use that for lunch about twice a week.
. If you are vegetarian, chick peas, white kidney beans or other legumes are a low cost and healthy source of protein added to a salad and a bowl of rice, or pasta or a nuked potatoe. And a big batch of vegetable soup.
. I love pasta and once a month I make and freeze a large batch of spaghetti sauce.
. I love salad – I always keep some lettuce or flat cabbage on hand to add a salad to my lunch. I make a half bottle of olive oil in which I have added garlic (I keep it in the fridge) and only need to add some lime or lemon juice for a great salad dressing
Here you have it. A list of easy to implement changes to keep you healthy and energized for a long time.
If you need help to keep on the right track with your goals, I am a trained life coach and I work with a couple of clients, by phone. If you are interested, use the contact form to let me know and we can set up a session to discuss your needs.
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