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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.