It’s coming. Summer vacation. It’s that magical time of year when my kids all stay up later, get up earlier, and never leave unless I provide somewhere for them to go.
Don’t get me wrong, I love summer vacation as much as my kids do. It’s that time of year when I don’t have to rush anyone to practice or lessons, we do science experiments and grand art projects, we go on field trips together, and we get to go swimming nearly every day. It is a wonderful mix of laziness and exhausting fun.
So, why am I quaking in my boots? This school year I have made a huge effort to be healthy. It started with me wanting to fit in my skinny jeans and led to me listening to and reading everything Power of Moms has published about body image. (Click HERE to find these podcasts and articles. You won’t regret it.)
A couple weeks ago I realized that my opinion of my body has almost nothing to do with how it looks and almost everything to do with how I am treating it. I decided that it was time to stop dieting and learn how to live healthier forever.
So, to answer my question, I am terrified of summer vacation because my beautifully crafted schedule–with exercise times all planned out–will be gone until August. I will be on my own, trying to figure out each day how to get some exercise in and how to eat right. And I want my kids to be involved too. It’s a lot to ask of a busy mom.
After a lot of thought, I came up with a plan. Like most of my plans, it follows the K.I.S.S. principle (“Keep It Simple, Silly,” as we like to say). Then I realized that what I really came up with were the first three steps on my way to a healthy, maintainable lifestyle, as opposed to a crash diet for the summer. I would like to share my plan with you and get your feedback and ideas, if you don’t mind.
I have three fitness goals this summer, and for the rest of my life:
- Drink water.
- Eat vegetables.
- Move your body.
That’s it. I think it’s manageable. Here’s the breakdown:
1. Drink water. The way I understand it, almost any other drink adds calories with little to no other health benefits. Some even have negative health benefits. Milk and 100% juice offer some great things, but they should be limited. The truth of the matter is, it’s hard to beat water. It is what your body needs, especially when it is hot. So, if I am thirsty, I am going to drink water.
2. Eat vegetables. Fifteen years ago, as a teenager, I remember looking through a fitness magazine as I ran on a treadmill, trying to figure out what was the healthiest thing I could possibly eat for dinner that night. If I followed all the tips in the magazine’s conflicting articles, everything was off limits except for vegetables. At the time, it made me want to cry, “It shouldn’t be that hard.”
Now, having learned all that I have over the last fifteen years, I see that I had found a good place to start. Every diet that I have studied has recommended more vegetables. Saren has some greatposts and Power of Moms Radio has a podcast about ways to work more vegetables into your family’s diet. I plan to read and listen to them all again.
We are pretty good about veggies at dinner. (Did you know that you can call shredded lettuce a salad? I do, and we eat it every night.) And I insist that the kids eat at least three carrot sticks with their lunch. Now I am working on training us all to eat veggies as a snack, too. It’s not the easiest thing I have ever done. I am never going to crave cucumbers like I crave cookies, but I have cucumbers in the house and not cookies.
3. Move your body. I live where it is hot (really, really hot) for half of the year and perfect for the other half of the year. We go to the pool a lot, but I obviously can’t swim laps while watching my kids.
My goal this summer is to figure out a few more ways to move without getting heat stroke. I plan to have my kids do yoga with me each day. We may start walking or riding our bikes the long way to the pool. The idea is to not turn into couch junkies simply because we can.
This is my plan. I am going to hang it on a bulletin board and enlist my kids’ help. They are going to choose vegetables at the store, fill water bottles, and add ideas for fun exercise to the list I have started on the fridge.
The best part of this plan is that if I improve in even one of the three areas, I will be on my way to a healthier lifestyle. Maybe I will even end summer vacation with a little energy, and I’ll take that any day.
QUESTION: How do you balance taking care of your health and taking care of your kids? What is your backup plan for times when your usual schedule doesn’t work?
CHALLENGE: Find one area where you can treat yourself better, or pick one of my three goals and work on it for a week or two. See if you notice any changes in the way you feel.
Aubrey Degn and Sarah Monson, Editors.
Image from Shutterstock, with graphics by Julie Finlayson.