Stop Kidding Yourself! And the Quickest Workout Ever!
I recently spent a weekend on Mommy Duty with two of my adorable and energetic nieces (okay so it wasn't a full weekend, but close enough!). I already had a profound respect and awe for mothers (this wasn't my first Mommy Duty experience; that's right, I actually came back for more), but this time I walked away with a new understanding: The level of difficulty for a person to maintain a healthy lifestyle is directly proportional to the amount of kids that person has. So, being that my sister-in-law is a stay-at-home mother raising three young girls - let me clarify - three very active, beautiful, sweet and spaz-tastic young girls, I applaud any efforts she makes at healthy food choices and working out. Seriously, between ice cream frappes at the elementary school soc-hop and licorice ropes between baseball games, I consumed enough sugar in 48 hours to sweeten the entire Boston Tea Party operation. You can bet it caused an internal Revolutionary War. But I would also bet that if you're reading this and have children of your own, this isn't exactly breaking news to you.
Here's the deal: By the time you're done getting everyone bathed, dressed, fed, out the door to make a double-header baseball game, fed, home to change clothes and play a quick board game, back out the door to a birthday party for one child and to the video store for the other, you are positively and undeniably tired and wondering where the hell you lost your purse and car keys and why you're watching a movie about a dog and a firehouse. But you don't care, you just want to relax and finally eat something, anything, preferably without walking or moving a limb. So you munch on the 6-year-old's pretzels and the 10-year-old's leftover french toast from breakfast that day. You go to bed and do it all over again the next day. Parents. Are. Amazing.
But for me, the madness ends there. Mom and Dad came home at a certain point and Auntie here eventually got to get a decent night's rest and a killer workout to make up for things. I got to play and laugh with my nieces all weekend and although I was exhausted, I got to recuperate, parents do not. There is no reserved workout time slotted into their day and if there is, it's the first thing that gets pushed to the side when something comes up. And even more importantly, healthy food becomes a luxury instead of a constant in parents' lives. This is alarming to me, since it is up to us to take care of ourselves and be there for our children for what we hope is a long time to come. We have to be responsible for the well-being of ourselves, which sounds intuitive but unfortunately it’s usually the last concern when it comes to raising children. So, what can be done? Read on for some tips on incorporating activities for you and your kids to do together, tips for making their love for mac and cheese a healthier food option, and a recipe for a veggie smoothie the children will actually love! I’m not saying these tips are going to keep you from devouring licorice ropes when they’re the only food source available…but perhaps it will help you think twice and find an alternate solution!
If your kids are: 18 months to 5 years
Sing fun tunes while you stretch. Make getting flexible more fun by matching favorite tunes to moves. For a side stretch, try "London Bridges" as you fold at the waist.
Create a bowling alley in your driveway (away from the actual line of traffic, of course) using empty water bottles as pins and a softball as the bowling ball. Setting up pins everytime you knock them over and running after the ball will boost your heart rate.
5 to 8 years
Do the limbo (an old broom will do for a pole).
Jam out together: Make your own random party mix and dance after dinner's over (and the food has settled).
8 to 13 years
Design an obstacle course. Set out cones to weave through, overturned buckets to leap over and a limbo pole. Try to beat your speed every time.
Play flag football. Set up two goals with cones, rocks, whatever you can find. Tuck bandannas or towels into your waistbands. When your flag is stripped, you're "tackled!"
Try batting cages. There are ultra-slow pitch lanes for kids. You never know, you may awaken the inner baseball pro in your child or yourself!
Do a workout DVD for teens. Try a dance one or even pilates - you can find many made just for teens on amazon.com or collagevideo.com.
Have your kid teach you a sport or a new game - skateboarding, ultimate Frisbee, soccer, hula hoop (my nieces discovered I'm hopeless with the hoop!)
Train for a 5K race together!
Five Sneaky Ways to Make Boxed Mac & Cheese Healthier
(from the folks at fitnessmagazine.com)
1. Use half the recommended butter or oil.
2. Use skim milk instead of whole milk.
3. Add one cup frozen peas to the boiling pasta (neat trick!)
4. Serve in individual ramekins to control portion size.
5. Add pieces of lean turkey or chicken for protein.
Super Smoothie Recipe for Kids!
For a vitamin-packed snack, whip up this pumpkin smoothie - actually created by the chefs at Whole Foods Market!
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/3 teaspoon nutmeg
2/3 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup ice
Whipped cream and cinnamon (optional)
Blend everything but the ice until smooth. Add ice; continue to blend until thick and creamy. Garnish with a dollop of whipped cream and a dash of cinnamon, if desired. Serves 4. Nutrition facts per serving: 88 cals., 3 g. protein, 15 g. carbs., 2 g fat (1 g saturated), 2 g fiber.
And since we're on the subject of busy schedules!
Only have 10 minutes and think there's no way you can get in a proper workout with that small amount of time? Stop thinkin' and get movin'! Follow this routine to blast up to 200 calories. In ten minutes!!!
You'll need: A chair and a pair of dumbbells or two full water bottles.
1. March in place, high knees (1 minute).
2. Stand in front of a chair, squat, tap butt to seat, and stand up (1 minute).
3. Jump up and down in a "scissor" hop (one foot out in front of the other), moving arms in circles (1 minute).
4. Do push-ups (15 reps); bicycles (20 reps: lie faceup, hands behind head, and pull in one knee as you extend other leg 45 degrees, bringing opposite elbow to knee); and bridges (20 pulses: lie faceup, knees bent, arms extended, and lift hips, squeezing glutes). Repeat series 2 times (about 3 minutes).
5. Walking lunges: Hold weights at sides and lunge forward with right leg. Repeat on left. Keep alternating (1 minute).
6. Do 25 jumping jacks and 10 triceps dips (sit on chair with hands on seat, lift body, and bend elbows to lower yourself in front of seat). Repeat sequence 2 times (about 2 minutes).
7. Run in place with high knees, pumping arms as if you're doing a biceps curl (1 minute).
There you go, a quickie-workout for even the busiest parent!