“If it’s important, you’ll find a way. If not, you’ll find an excuse.”

This week, I had the opportunity to guest blog for a health and fitness related website, Seek Health. Giving you all a sneak peek of said guest blog this week. Enjoy! And as always, let me know what you think in the comments or on Twitter @runlikeagirl311.

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Guest blogging – brought to you by my Mac & coffee

To be fit and to be healthy. It means something different to everyone. For some, it’s seeing a number on the scale, for others, it’s making it to the gym five days a week.

Regardless of our personal definition of fit and healthy, it’s something we all want, right? Then why is it so hard? Why don’t we all just have it?

The blame often gets put on many things. Work, friends, personal interests, the fact that every time an iHop commercial comes on, we eat pancakes for days.

And then there’s the one that’s the biggest saboteur of them all: family.

It’s a common misconception that a dedicated fitness lifestyle is something only single people can have. Those with no spouse, children, pets or family obligations. While our families need and deserve our time and attention, they don’t have to be an excuse that keeps us from achieving our goals – in fact, they can encourage it.

There are four strategies I’ve found that are key to a fit and healthy lifestyle and how family can be incorporate into them.

Strategy #1 – Mindset
Perhaps the most crucial piece of the health and fitness puzzle isn’t an exercise fad, a new diet or finally trying CrossFit. It’s about finding the right mental state.

Start by changing your mindset about fitness and health. Don’t look at exercise as dreadful, and don’t think of balanced eating as missing out on “good” food. Positive association goes a long way to creating good habits.

You can instill this mindset in your family too. Before settling in for family movie night, take a walk together. Don’t just make it a point to gather three times a week to eat dinner together, get everyone involved in healthy meal ideas, prep and cooking.

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Cut up fruit for a healthy, easy & tasty snack

Strategy #2 – Meal Prep
Speaking of food prep and cooking, have healthy meals and snacks ready to go so it’s easy to make the right choice when the week gets busy. “No time” is one of the biggest reasons people make unhealthy snack or meal choices.

Plan a grocery list and go shopping on Sunday. Then, take time to cut and wash fruits and vegetables, hard-boil eggs, cook chicken, rice and sides in bulk and portion them out. Involve your family by choosing the healthy foods they like but would skip for an easier option. This one just takes some effort to plan and time to execute – and a lot of tupperwear.

Strategy #3 – Schedule
Treat workouts and eating like everything else in your life – a shower, a meeting, a dentist appointment, and watching your favorite TV show. It’s simply part of your daily life that needs to fit into the schedule.

When it comes to workouts, even the most motivated person has things that interrupt their day and may push their workout off the schedule. As best you can, plan your week to make sure you’ll get in workouts. If you usually work out in the evening but your son has a soccer game at 6:00 p.m., switch your workout to an early morning one that day.

Same with healthy eating. Planning to make spaghetti tonight for your daughter’s favorite meal? Choose a high-protein, low-carb lunch to balance things out.

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The mother of all my goals – running the Boston Marathon

Strategy #4 – Goals
This strategy is my personal favorite. Nothing keeps that healthy, fit furnace burning like having a goal to work towards. Whether it’s finishing a 5k, being able to squat more than you weigh or feeling comfortable in shorts this summer, find a goal.

Involve your family by telling them your goal and why it matters to you.

When you achieve it, be pumped and let that motivate you for the next goal. If you fall off and don’t quite make it, get over it and learn from it. Failure isn’t a bad thing; it means you’re trying something outside your comfort zone. Maybe it was too ambitious to lose 20 pounds a month after having your first child. Perhaps training for a half marathon in just six weeks while trying to balance a wife, your golf league and full-time job was too daunting. Figure out why things didn’t work out, then re-evaluate and set something more realistic.

The Power of Family
Finding ways to involve and consider your family as part of a health and fitness lifestyle can be a game-changer. I’ll use myself as an example and why family doesn’t impede me from staying fit and healthy – they encourage me.

First, there’s my husband. Such a wonderful guy he is. We’ve worked out a plan where he goes to the gym early so he can come home for our dogs after work and I get my workout time. I go shopping twice a week so we have fresh food and everything he needs for weekly meal prep. Basically, he respects and supports my goals, and how important my lifestyle is to me, and I do the same for him.

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Oh, hi – have you met my running partner, Burton?

Then there’s my dogs. I know it’s nowhere near the same commitment as children but they are creatures that I’m responsible for keeping alive, disciplined and happy. The best way I’ve found to spend quality time with them and stay on track is taking them running with me. Anyone who’s familiar with my blog or social presence knows how huge a role my dogs play in my running life. Even days we don’t go running, they won’t let me relax until they’ve gone for their walk. That little bonus cardio adds up!

Let me repeat: I do not have children and I know dogs are not an equal comparison to children. My point in bringing them up is the concept of finding ways to involve kids in your workouts.

Let your baby entertain him/herself in the pack-and-play while you do a 30-minute HIIT workout. If you have a toddler, get a jogger stroller or pull-behind bike cart. Encourage the older kids to hit the gym and shoot hoops with you or challenge them to keep up with you for a one-mile jog.

The bottom line: we all have obligations and someone who depends on us – if it’s not a spouse or children, it’s a demanding boss or needy friend – and temptations are everywhere. Being fit and healthy isn’t something you just achieve one day and then everything’s great. It’s an ongoing process that first takes mindset, planning, scheduling and goals – and then the work to actually do it.

It’s true some days suck and your lifestyle takes a detour. That’s okay! Tomorrow is always a new day and a chance to make it great.

Have you found strategies to achieve your fit and healthy – balancing work, family and all of it? Or are you still looking for your own strategies and ideas for making it all work? I’d love to hear from you! Share your fit and healthy with me, and let me inspire you too. Find me on my blog, or on Twiter and Instagram @runlikeagirl311.

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