I find that the barrier to many of my clients’ good health is that they put everyone else first. Does this sound familiar? Do you put the kids, your spouse, your parents, or maybe even your boss’s needs ahead of your own? Are you overwhelmed by taking care of everyone but you? Does your to-do list make you feel frazzled?
Here’s what I’ve learned as a health coach, wife, mom and daughter—giving yourself a little love makes all the other tasks seem easier because when you put yourself first you have a better attitude and it energizes you.
Taking advantage of small blocks of time—whether they happen in the morning or the evening—can be an effective way to incorporate some self-care into your day without neglecting everyone else’s needs. If you’re thinking, “How do I do that when I am so busy?” Here’s how:
Don't Overlook Evening Opportunities
Consider making use of the time after work before dinner. Or, if you don’t work outside the home, try to squeeze in a 30-minute workout (or yoga class on YouTube or watch on demand) while the kids are doing homework.
Connect with a friend and get exercise, too by taking a 20 minute after-dinner walk in the neighborhood. Exercising late in the day (but not too late) can be invigorating for all of the end-of-day chores. Plus, committing to a regular exercise routine promotes better sleep.
If walking isn’t your thing, make time for a quick cardio and muscle building exercise session. Go up and down the staircase a few times and follow by lifting light hand weights for 5 minutes. Or, stop for the haircut/blow out/manicure or facial right after work before family chaos interfere with your good intentions. With Mother’s Day right around the corner, consider asking for gift certificate for a professional massage or a package of blowouts from your favorite salon. Schedule one appointment for the next 6 weeks to be sure it happens.
Once your family gets used to your “self-care/fitness time” they’ll respect it and reap the benefits of having a much happier mom who has more energy for baths, school papers in need of signatures or checks, responding to work or school-related emails and all the other night-time tasks (setting out clothes, making lunches, etc.) that make your morning a little bit easier.
One of my favorite ways to de-stress and prepare for a good night’s sleep is with a short, bedtime yoga routine. Here’s what to do:
Dim the lights and warm up with a modified "moon" salutation. Take several slow, deep breaths. Fold forward for dolphin pose, hold for three breaths. Then transition into modified crescent lunge. From a kneeling position, reach back and grab your ankles for a restorative camel pose. Finish with bound angle pose and legs up the wall pose. (Note: If you are not familiar with these basic yoga poses, see my demonstration in this Fox News video clip.)
Now that you’ve cleared your mind, try meditating for a few minutes before bed. I like the mantras: "Let Go; Go with the Flow; Be Present and Be Grateful." Get into bed 8.5 hours before you need to be up.
Carve Out Quiet Time in the Morning
Morning can be a terrific time to fit in some self-care or get exercise out of the way. After a great night's sleep, you may be better able to wake up a few minutes earlier to do “Morning Pages” from The Artist's Way by Julie Cameron. This therapeutic exercise encourages you to jot down your dreams, your morning intentions, set a tone for the day, reflect on goals for the day, and write down anything that may be bothering you. The idea is to write without stopping for a set period of time (even a few minutes can be transformative). The process feels a little like free therapy. It really helps to get the junk out or—depending on what’s happening in your brain—make you feel grateful and happier when you see all the good in your life. Sometimes great ideas or solutions to old problems come up during the exercise.
To fit in an exercise routine or carve out quiet time, wake up a half hour before the rest of the family. That way you’re pretty much guaranteed uninterrupted time to do whatever you like. Take a walk and listen to that podcast you’ve been meaning to get too or just enjoy your morning coffee as you catch up with your favorite blog or news program. Or, use the time to research a fun day for yourself. Check out upcoming live performances, museum exhibits or local garden shows and schedule them in your calendar.
If you need a little inspiration to wake up and workout, try meditating on the many benefits of exercising just 30 minutes a day, 6 days a week and what you’ll get in return—self-confidence, a stronger immune system to help you fight illness and stress, a more toned body you’ll be proud of come summer! Plus, a regular a.m. routine sets you up for good eating habits the rest of the day, and you’ll have more energy, too. (All of my fitness videos are 30 minutes long www.nikkifitness.com)
“I wish I didn’t work out today”—said no one ever!
Having healthy food swaps at your disposal is key to satisfying cravings and maintaining a desirable weight. I believe that you can find better-for-you choices that the whole family will love and are easy to prepare. I recently discovered a product that totally fits the bill—Skinny Pasta.
With a similar taste and texture as their calorie-heavy cousin, Skinny Pasta promotes healthy weight loss with only 9 calories per serving (100 grams or 3.52 oz). Completely free of sugar, gluten, starch, GMOs, wheat, lactose, soy, salt, cholesterol, fat, allergens, additives and preservatives, Skinny Pasta is made with the Konjac plant. A unique ingredient that contains the healthy and all-natural water-soluble fiber, Glucomannan. The fiber helps you feel full without overeating when combined with 1-2 glasses of water.
I have made full meals out of Skinny Pasta using organic marinara sauce, or as a side dish with scallops or veggie pesto. The pasta is available in several different varieties. Each bag of noodles features recipes and the website is loaded with menu ideas.
A smart complement to meals or alternative in favorite recipes, these alternate pasta and rice products are a versatile, convenient choice as they are precooked and ready to heat—4 minutes on the stove; 2 minutes in the microwave (on high).
Also interesting: Skinny Pasta is the only Konjac noodle endorsed by Weight Watchers.
So this spring, indulge in some self-care, yoga and pasta. Remember, your health coach told you it’s ok!