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Playing catch with your kids, taking a five-mile run, biking around your city, and hitting the gym are all healthy activities that could be incorporated into any solid fitness plan. Not only will these and other forms of exercise help you maintain a healthy body weight, but they can also work wonders for your long-term cardiovascular health, immune system, musculoskeletal structure, and mental well-being. However, while physical fitness is important, it’s not the be-all, end-all. Here’s how to prioritize other forms of self-care when you love to work out.
You can’t sweat out a bad diet
No amount of physical exercise in the world can overcome a poor diet. What you put in your body is the most important contributor to your overall health. Don’t feed your body subpar fuel. If you struggle with eating healthy, look for ways to make it easy. For example, cooking with an electric pressure cooker is convenient, because it cooks all of the ingredients together in less time than standard cooking methods. A pressure cooker also requires less liquid to cook the meals than other cooking methods, so it preserves more of the nutrients. You can heat up a ton of healthy dishes with this appliance, such as chicken and lentil soup and artichokes.
Be sure to eat yogurt, kefir, and other foods that contain strains of good bacteria. Along with probiotic supplements, foods with live cultures help maintain a healthy gut. The gut microbiome contains tiny microorganisms that can affect your emotional health, so replenishing its store of good bacteria is crucial for your happiness levels. Your digestive system and immune system also benefit from a gut that’s well cared for.
Maximize your rest days
Rest days? Yes, rest days. Your body needs to be able to heal itself, and it can’t do that if you’re pushing it to its limits day after day. You’ll actually see better exercise gains if you rest, so this is a no-brainer. Making the most of your rest days is important for self-care. You should minimize the intensity of your activity level, but that doesn’t mean you have to sit on the couch. You can do yoga or go on a long walk with your family. It’s up to you. The most important thing to remember if you want to recharge your battery is to do something fun.
Don’t burn the candle at both ends
As a busy parent, chances are high that you struggle to fit in your daily workouts. This probably leads you to squeeze them in the only way you know how—either early in the morning or late at night. While there is nothing wrong with this in theory, if you’re sacrificing sleep to accomplish your workout goals, you’re being counterproductive. As a way for your muscles to heal, your mind to destress, and your body to reset, sleep may very well be a critical aspect of your overall wellness routine.
If you must squeeze in a workout, try setting up a home gym. Not only will you save on time, but you’ll spend less as well. You can set up your gym in a spare bedroom or in your basement. If you want to add any additions such as a ceiling fan or rubber floor, then be prepared to spend a little more.
Find ways to stay motivated and accountable
An ideal scenario would be to exercise with your family. Not only will you not have to sacrifice family time to work out, but you can set a good example and turn your entire household into one that values health. If this isn’t feasible, try to find a workout buddy. If that doesn’t work, consider group fitness classes.
Why go to such lengths to have company when you exercise? Not only is being social important for your overall mental well-being, but in the context of fitness, you are much better able to motivate yourself, stay focused, and have fun if you have someone to hold you accountable.
All of the toned abs and bulging triceps you can sculpt won’t matter if you run yourself down in the process. Fitness is only one aspect of total self-care, and you mustn’t sacrifice or neglect things like family, diet, sleep, fun, and friends in your pursuit of physical transformation. As with most things in life, “everything in balance and moderation” is a solid strategy to take.
You’re a single parent, and time is the most precious resource you have. Between being at work, cleaning the house, cooking for your kids, and being a hands-on parent, you know what exhaustion feels like because you experience it every day. However, you’ve learned that exercise is a good way to recharge your batteries and have extra energy for all the activities you want to do while also making you look lean and fit. But the tricky thing is squeezing in an exercise routine between all your busy tasks and chores.
Here are a few simple methods to getting you started on the right foot.
Start by walking
The key here is to look at long, time-absorbing exercises, like jogging or rollerblading, as something you have to build toward slowly so that you go through a period of relaxation first and a slow transition for your body. When single parents start exercising a lot too quickly and too soon, their motivation plummets the next time they miss their scheduled day of exercise. Then, they feel they’ve let themselves down, and the disappointment makes them less likely to jump back on the horse again.
However, with just a brisk, casual walk every day, you are slowly introducing your body and your mind to the gradual goal of jogging, rollerblading, or playing a sport. This also is a great time for you to take along your pet dog so that she gets her exercise, too. This way, you can kill two birds with one stone and be walking companions for each other.
Eat basic, wholesome foods
Of course, having enough money to do your grocery shopping is important to you. But as a single parent, you always have to look to cut corners. A handy tip is to spend your dollars for basic staple food items, like oatmeal, flour, and vegetables, instead of fancy, packaged, ready-in-an-instant food products. Sure, it might take you more time to prepare wholesome meals for your kids, but when you understand that there is a direct nutritional link between good behavior, getting straight A’s in school, and diet, the more you’ll set aside time to cooking.
Turn your commute into a workout
You absolutely must get to and from work, right? Instead of driving your car or taking public transportation, consider biking, rollerblading, or jogging to work. With a little foresight, this can be made easier. Find a place to shower before you hit the office, such as a local spa or gym. Also make sure to take along a change of clothing.
When it rains or snows, do your exercise regimen at a gym instead. Yes, you may have to wake up earlier than usual, but this is no big deal, especially if your body has gotten used to the daily energy “kick” from exercise. In this sense, do your best to stay on schedule with your exercising-while-commuting routine.
It’s vital that you take excellent care of yourself in order to live as a happy provider, coworker, and human being. Squeezing in exercise into your tight schedule can really help you to secure a better and happier life.
If you’re expecting or have recently given birth, congratulations on your little bundle of joy. It’s probably already apparent that your life – and your body – will never be the same. However, there are ways to stay healthy despite your sudden lack of sleep and inability to move without pinching a sciatic nerve or pressing against your newly-weakened bladder.
Easy does it
The first four to six weeks postpartum are not the time to jump into an intense workout regimen. Your body is still recovering from a 40-week gestation and the trauma of giving birth. Ease yourself into a new exercise routine by starting slow. You may begin taking short walks with your baby a few days after delivery if you’re feeling up to it. Start with the stroller, which you can use for support if you begin to feel fatigued. You can work your way up to longer walks using a baby carrier once you know your limits. What To Expect points out that recovery from a C-section takes longer, so always check with your doctor or midwife before pounding the pavement.
We’ve all heard the phrase “mommy tummy.” As it turns out, there’s a reason for the midsection sag after giving birth. It’s called diet diastasis recti. According to NPR Health News, it’s a condition that results when the abdominal muscles spread apart to accommodate the growing baby in your belly. Often, these muscles go back into place naturally, but when they don’t, it adds jiggle to your step that can make you feel uncomfortable and self-conscious. There are a number of exercises that can help you realign your abdominal muscles, including modified yoga planks. It’s important to note, however, that extreme twisting poses, such as crossover crunches, can actually exacerbate the condition and make it more difficult to regain proper muscle positioning.
Hit the floor
We’re talking about your pelvic floor. When you’re pregnant, your enlarged midsection puts pressure on your pelvic, or Kegel, muscles. This is the reason you found it harder to hold your bladder during and after gestation. The National Association for Continence explains that these muscles are related to your ability to stop the flow of urine.
Kegel exercises, fortunately, are very simple and extremely effective at re-strengthening the area. To identify which muscles to focus on, simply go to the bathroom and stop yourself from peeing midstream. Congratulations, you’ve just flexed you Kegel muscles. With an empty bladder, tighten the same muscles for a few seconds and relax for approximately the same amount of time. Eventually, you can work yourself up to 10 to 12 seconds at a time three times a day for 10 repetitions.
In addition to exercising, it’s important for you and your baby that you take extra steps to care for your physical and mental health. Start by making your home a stress-free zone. Decluttering is the first step toward reducing stress and creating a peaceful abode. Take some time for yourself each day, even if it’s just 15 minutes in the shower while your partner or another responsible adult cares for the baby. It may be hard to separate yourself from your infant, but you need a mental break in order to just be you. Last but not least, eat well. Don’t neglect your own diet while you focus on your child. This is especially important if you’re breastfeeding. Fitness offers great information here on what foods to include in your diet to keep your nutrition up while working toward losing the baby weight.
The old cliché that having a baby changes everything is true. However, these changes need not usher in an era of self-neglect. Ease into your exercise routine, get as much sleep as possible, and pay attention to yourself. You’ll find that the stresses of parenthood aren’t quite the burden you might have expected.