By Jeff Howard
Did you indulge in too many cookouts, pool parties and lazy days this summer? Unfortunately, it’s that time of year when kids go back to school and you go back to rigorous routines. Although it’s great to get the kids out of the house and back into the classroom, it’s also the time for schedule overload and countless after-school obligations. In preparation for a brand new school year, take some time to reset and make sure you are getting back to fitness and exercise.
This may sound overwhelming at first when you consider adding a workout to an already crazy schedule, but with some planning and a positive mindset you will be off to a happy, healthy and less stressful school year.
Preparation and planning can be the difference between organization and chaos. When it comes to exercising, that strategy shouldn’t be any different. Making a weekly or monthly calendar of your work schedule, school functions, appointments and other responsibilities is a great way to get your school year in order. By doing this, you can identify the best time each day to fit in exercise.
Even if you only have three 10-minute breaks throughout the day to squeeze in a workout, it’s better than doing nothing or making up an excuse. After all, coming up with excuses burns zero calories. Plus, if you add up those short workout periods, then you will find yourself getting in 30 minutes of exercise that day – it all adds up. By planning, organizing and mixing in a quick workout here and there, you can be well on your way to a new way of life.
Let this school year be the year that you make the changes to be more active and make exercising a priority. There’s no magic formula. Just discover what you enjoy and what works for you and your family. Here are some tips to get you started:
1. Meal Plan
Meal planning can mean different things to different people, but doing some form of it will help you meet your goals. Planning out your meals will save time and stress and ensure that you eat healthy. The weeks I don’t meal plan are the weeks we eat out more and eat fewer vegetables. Here are some ideas you can try:
Plan out 6-8 weeks worth of meal plans, make grocery lists and rotate these plans throughout the school year.
Pick a day and spend an hour or so prepping things like lunches, snacks or dinners for the week. If your kids are old enough, teach them to help you.
Shop online. If you have a grocery store that offers this, order your food online and pick it up. I save way more than that by avoiding impulse buys. You know exactly what you’re getting and how much you will spend.
Make freezer meals in advance to use on those busy nights.
2. Find An Exercise That You Enjoy
If you hate what you’re doing, you will find every excuse in the world to avoid it. Find a way to exercise that you’ll actually enjoy, and make sure it’s effective for your body, works for your lifestyle and fits your schedule.
If groups energize you, join a running club or a fitness class.
If you still have problems getting in a workout most days of the week, then consider hiring a personal trainer. Personal trainers motivate their clients and teach them the proper mechanics of exercises to ensure safety.
You can also find a workout buddy. See if you can find someone who has a similar schedule as you and sign up for a small group training together – it’s less expensive and more fun. This holds you accountable, makes workouts more enjoyable and can even create a little fun competition to keep you going. If a workout buddy isn’t an option, find someone to check in with you about your exercising and eating habits. Knowing someone will ask is often a good enough motivator.
Back to school can be a busy time, and some may only have time for early morning, late at night or as-fast-as-possible workouts. If you fit that description, I recommend you try an exercise at home – simply get moving!
3. Schedule Your Workouts
Whether or not you get an adrenaline rush from crossing things off a list, most parents need a to-do list and schedule to stay sane. Plan your workout times in advance and put it on a calendar or list. Then, use the power of technology to remind you that it’s time to exercise.
Another great way to stick to your workouts during the back-to-school madness is to get your workout clothing and shoes laid out and ready to go the night before. This saves you time and is an awesome reminder before you leave the house. You can also keep a gym bag in the front seat of your vehicle as a constant reminder.
4. Play With Your Kids
Play with and enjoy time with your kids. If you’re tired and need extra motivation, even just walking by them while they play on the playground will improve your health. Push them on the swings or play with them in a sandbox. If your kids play sports, why not practice that sport with them? Even if you aren’t a pro athlete, tossing your child’s basketball can mean great quality time and a chance for you to get moving. Bike rides and walks are also good options.
And finally, do what you can and don’t put pressure on yourself to be perfect. No one is perfect. Remember that your kids need a healthy parent if possible, so exercise and healthy eating are great places to start. Making these habits a priority will show them a great example. It will also remind them that although you love them to pieces, you’re not their employee and deserve some you time. VT