Building and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is not always easy, but it is worth the time and effort it takes to create the life that you deserve. Oftentimes the most difficult part is simply getting started and creating healthy habits that will last a lifetime.
Today, I want to share with you a few small changes that helped me implement new habits in hopes that they’ll help you get started on your own healthy lifestyle journey.
How to Start Healthy Habits as a Mom
The key to creating lasting, healthy habits is to start small. You don’t need to wake up one morning and uproot your entire routine. Instead, start incorporating small, achievable changes in your daily life that can stack on top of previously incorporated changes that are now part of your everyday routine.
Sticking to one thing long enough for it to become a permanent, positive change, is the best way to getting them to “stick” for a long time -not to mention, preventing burn-out after one solid week or even a day.
The exact change that you start with is up to you. Just make sure it is small enough that you can stick with it long-term and something that will make you feel like you’re on the path to establishing healthier habits.
A few examples of what I’ve incorporated are:
- Waking up an hour earlier to exercise
- Prepping food on Sundays to have healthy meals available all week
- Spending 20 minutes reading or meditating before bed each night
- Drinking one extra glass of water each day for a week
- Taking a bath before bed to help me relax
By slowly adding in these new habits you can change your whole lifestyle without even realizing it, and without adding stress to your busy life.
Tracking your Healthy Habits
As you incorporate small healthy habits and changes into your daily routine it can be helpful to track them using apps or pen and paper. I use an app with my smart watch that tracks my sleep because that is one area of my life I’m working hard to improve for my overall health.
Being able to track my progress over a month is a lot more productive and encouraging than just looking day-to-day. Similar to weighing yourself daily when you’re trying to lose weight. It’s best to track change over time since we all have ups and downs.
A few helpful tracking apps I’ve used over the years are:
- Habitica – this app “gamifies” keeping track of new habits.
- Sleep Cycle App – what I use to track my sleep.
- To-Do App – helps me create a list of things I need to do and can share lists with others.
- Interval Timer App – helps me set timers when I work out or in between tasks.
- Breethe App – simple guided meditations for those of us that are beginners and clueless to how to meditate.
- Screen Time Report – I look at this weekly in my iPhone and challenge myself to spend just a little less than the previous week. It also helps me set daily limits and locks me out of apps that are “time sucks.”
- Chronometer App – the easiest calorie tracking and nutritional information app. I love to track my vitamins and minerals this way.
- Brain Training Apps – here is a list of fun apps that you can use to keep your brain sharp.
Maintaining Healthy Habits with a Family
Having a support system is important to stay on track. That doesn’t mean you have to get a gym membership or pull your friends into your daily routine (though it can be fun if you have friends willing to get on board!).
My top recommendation is to start with your own home. Most of your healthy habits will take place within the walls of your own home, so make sure that your family is your first and best support system. A few ways you can get your family involved so that you can easily maintain your healthy habits and goals are to have the kids help prepare a healthy dinner, go on an evening walk with your husband, or start a healthy family activity together.
A few years ago, my entire family started karate together. We found it was a great way to connect in the middle of our busy lives that often left us scattered around town and it was a healthy habit that we could all enjoy together. Get creative and see what ways your family can create habits together so you will be more likely to succeed. It may take some convincing at first, but you’ll be instilling healthy habits that you kids will carry into adulthood.
Sidenote – I was one belt away from blackbelt before lockdown so I didn’t get to take my test. One of my goals this year is to finally earn that blackbelt!
Another way to incorporate your family in your healthy lifestlye changes this year is through my Family KickStart Program.
KickStart is my comprehensive 30-day program that will enable you and your family to eat healthier together. It includes all the recipes you need for the full month (each one is picky eater approved!) and will help you eliminate processed foods and sugars from your family’s diet.
Instead of focusing on the foods to avoid, I worked hard to incorporate healthier versions of things families love. Kids won’t be eating beans and egg whites for breakfast, instead they’ll enjoy healthier pancakes topped with fresh fruit and they’ll even get clean treats throughout the week. The program is designed to help change your family’s habits around food and to provide a positive experience that won’t leave you stressing about meals with unfamiliar ingredients that no one will want to eat.
In addition to getting your family to join you in your healthy habits, here are a few other things that I’ve found essential to creating a healthier lifestyle as a busy mom.
1. Time Management Techniques for Moms
To stay on track make a plan, but remain flexible. If a child gets sick or something comes up mid-day it might mean you have to make some quick adjustments to make things work, but staying flexible is the key for finding time for everything you plan to get done in the day.
Lots of days I will wear my sports bra and workout clothes under my work clothes as a promise to myself that I will get a run in before the day is over. Sometimes that means running as my lunch break (and eating while I continue working after) or leaving work a little bit early so I can get a run in before it gets dark. Whatever the case may be, I make a plan and the decide to be flexible so that if something comes up I can accommodate the change to schedule while still getting in the things that are important to me.
One thing that members have loved about the Family KickStart Program is how much time it saves them prepping and planning meals. Everything is done-for-you ahead of time like shopping lists and weekly meal prep guides, to help you spend less time in the kitchen (and grocery shopping) and more time forming your other healthy habits!
Best Time Management Tools
To help keep track of time, invest in a planner, and utilize block scheduling (my favorite work strategy). Or keep everything organized on your computer. Use tools like online grocery shopping, zoom meetings, and exercise apps to easily streamline your days.
The most important time management tool in your belt as a mom is communication. If you need extra time after dinner to meet a goal, don’t expect that it will just happen. Communicate with your family what your goals are and how things might need to adjust – for everyone – to make room for your new habits.
Even if you don’t need someone to step in and do the dishes or fold a load of laundry, communication is about forming the expectation in your family’s minds that you will be unavailable at certain times as you build these healthy habits into your life.
Remember, making space for your own health is a great skill to model for you kids, even if they give a little bit of pushback right now.
2. How to Start Eating Healthy
The easiest way to make healthy eating a habit is to create a plan. Find delicious healthy recipes you’ll be excited to eat. Then, make a shopping list of everything you’ll need for the week and stick to it. If you don’t buy unhealthy foods, you won’t be tempted to eat them.
Be sure to take notice of what healthy foods your family enjoys so that you can incorporate those into your weekly meal schedule. It can start with simple swaps like trading takeout for my daughter’s favorite cauliflower rice shrimp stir fry.
Best of all, they don’t even have to know you’re making these healthy swaps if you don’t want to tell them! The Family KickStart Program will also share some pantry staples to keep on hand for when someone gets the munchies, and how to make healthier swaps while keeping your family’s favorite meals in rotation.
3. Positive Thinking
In my opinion, positive thinking is the key to maintaining healthy habits. Understand that you’re going to make mistakes, and be kind to yourself when it happens. You have your whole life in front of you to make good choices and learn to live a healthier lifestyle.
Don’t let yourself feel guilty if you skip a day or forget about a new habit. Instead, let your mistakes encourage you to keep trying – and becoming stronger the next day!
In this episode of my podcast I talk a lot about building a healthy daily routine, and what to do if you aren’t able to meet a goal you set. Listen in here or search MOMables Podcast S6E5 on your favorite podcast app to hear the show.
Positive Thinking Exercises
Most mornings, I go through positive affirmations with my kids to help them start the day off right. If you are having trouble coming up with positive thoughts and affirmations to say for yourself each day, simply think of what you would want your closest friend to believe about herself – and then realize that you should believe the same things about YOU.
This is a great place to start incorporating positivity into your day, even if it’s just a few moments before your feet hit the floor in the morning.
4. How to Sleep Better
Part of creating healthy habits is also developing a healthy bedtime routine. By incorporating exercise, eating healthy foods, and managing stress levels, you will inadvertently improve your sleep. However, I’ve also written a lengthy list of ways to improve your sleep here, including how to fall asleep faster!
To get to sleep faster, we must learn how to relax. I know it can be difficult to unplug at the end of the day, but make it a habit. Shutting off all screens and actively reducing your stress levels can help you unwind and fall asleep faster so that you wake up feeling refreshed.
5. Establishing a Fitness Routine as a Mom
Once again, the hardest part of establishing a fitness routine is just getting started. You don’t have to spend hours in the gym to be fit. Incorporating any movement into your day can count as fitness. Walk the dog, take a class with your kids (My family loves karate), or find a quick weight lifting routine. Pick something you enjoy, and fitness won’t feel like a chore but will be something you look forward to each day.
Keeping Healthy Habits for Life
To keep practicing your new healthy habits for life, make sure they are sustainable. You don’t need to run 20 miles a day or eat food you don’t enjoy.
Allow yourself to find balance and work to implement changes that make you feel good.
Enjoying your life is the secret to keeping healthy habits for life.