5 Ways for Stay-at-Home Parents to Get Fit and Lose WeightBy Audrey Clark
By Audrey Clark
Losing weight is tough, and doubly so for busy moms and dads that are juggling the schedules of a family on the go. Luckily, your kids’ activities and your lack of sleep don’t mean you have to give up on your resolutions to lose weight this year. In fact, you can shed those pounds without really changing your schedule at all, and instead making some slight tweaks to your lifestyle can foster healthy habits that melt away pounds.
Research has shown that while exercise helps make muscles stronger and more tones and burns calories, a healthy diet is the key to losing weight. As we all know, eating right with picky eaters in the house is challenging, and when you add in a busy schedule of juggling kids’ sports and activities, that fast food meal might seem like your only option for staving off hunger. With a little creativity and some prep work, you can plan healthy meals that work around your schedule. Healthy crock pot meals, casseroles and finger foods are all great options to look into, as they can be made ahead and frozen to save time.
Snacks and sodas are one of the biggest drains on your recommended daily caloric intake. Often, the simple act of swapping sodas for flavored water and high fat snack foods for some hummus or fruit salad can be enough of a positive diet change to start seeing pounds shed.
Sleep quickly becomes a coveted prize once that first baby comes home from the hospital, and surely with each baby after that we miss our long lost friend even more. If you find yourself having trouble shedding weight, sleep loss maybe the culprit. Research has shown there is a significant connection between sleep and health. Lack of sleep affects the secretion of cortisol, which is a hormone that controls appetite. When you lose sleep, the body thinks you need to eat, even though you have eaten plenty. Sleep loss also causes problems with the body’s ability to process carbohydrates, which causes sugars to build up in the blood. When this happens, the body stores fat and eventually becomes resistant to insulin, a precursor to diabetes.
The bad news is, no matter how busy you are, you still have to clean the house, cook and do laundry. The good news is that a good cleaning session is just as good as any other cardio activity you could do at the gym. With any exercise, getting your heart rate up above normal, and keeping it there for a bit, is the key to burning calories. Vigorous cleaning burns the most calories. For example, mopping the floors for an hour burns 153 calories, and vacuuming for 30 minutes burns 187 calories. Wear a daily activity tracker to keep track of how many calories you burn each day; you’ll be pleasantly surprised!
There are plenty of ways to get the kids out of the house and benefit your weight loss goals at the same time. Like indoor cleaning, outdoor chores are a great way to burn calories, and have the added benefit of keeping the kids busy, and you from going crazy. In the summer, have the kids gear up in swimsuits, and wash your car together. They’ll have a blast playing with the hose, and you’ll burn 153 calories. In the fall, rake up piles of leaves for them to jump in. An hour of fall fun can burn as much as 300 calories. Cabin fever sets in during the winter? Grab the sled! Pulling the sled up the hill for the kids, or toting the kids across flat ground on the sled if your area is flat, will burn as much as 346 calories in an hour!
Of course, if you can manage to sneak out of the house to hit the gym, structured workouts are great for targeting specific areas of the body that you want to tone. Working out at the gym is also good for the mind and soul, as even Super Mom or Dad needs a break from the daily grind of family life to stay happy. If possible, take that time for yourself and relieve some stress swimming laps, lifting weights or losing yourself in your music while you pound out some miles on a treadmill.
Audrey Clark is a writer who loves to travel and stay fit. She’s always looking for her next adventure. You can find Audrey on Google+