Being a parent is a big job. Too often, we end up taking on so many parenting responsibilities – an extracurricular activity here, a P&C meeting there – that the other areas of our lives start to crumble.
One of the first things to go is usually our health and wellness, as parent, personal trainer and founder of Flow Athletic Ben Lucas has seen all too often. We all know by now that maintaining our healthy habits is key to living a happy, healthy life, but why are the wellness-related New Year’s Resolutions always the hardest to stick to?!
“It goes without saying that you can’t expect to be your best self if you are not taking care of yourself,” says Ben. “You spending time on ‘you’ is likely to benefit your family, so there is no reason to feel guilty about taking some time for yourself.”
Read on for Ben’s top tips for setting and sticking to your wellness goals in 2021.
Make sure your goals are specific to you
“I love it when my clients set goals, be it to lift a certain weight or run a half marathon, but it’s important to remember that your goal doesn’t have to be big – it just needs to be relevant to you and what you need” says Ben. “If you feel that signing up to a fun run will be a good way to motivate yourself to exercise, by all means do it. But if just getting in 20 to 30 minutes of exercise a day is all you can muster for now, make that your goal!”
Don’t feel pressured to take on something that you know you are unlikely to be able to commit to, Ben says – starting and sticking with it is the main thing you need to worry about.
Make a practical plan that will easily fit into your schedule
One of the main barriers to entry when it comes to setting a fitness goal is convenience, explains Ben, so it’s important that your plan factor in your schedule and your location.
If you are someone who likes to head out to a gym, make sure the studio is near your home or your place of work so it is convenient to get to. If you have no one to mind your kids, consider a gym that has a creche to take that barrier off the table.
“Another easy option is an online training program such as Flow Athletic TV,” says Ben. “Our channel has fitness, yoga, pilates, meditation and mindfulness on demand and ready for when you can fit it in.”
Of course, depending on your kids’ ages, when and how long you train for can be unpredictable.
“If you are training at home, don’t quit just because your child starts crying 10 minutes into your workout,” says Ben. “If you need to do 3 x 10 minute workouts, that’s absolutely fine! It’s more important to keep up the habit and do what you can as opposed to doing nothing.”
Ben adds that if you are training at a location, make sure they are open or have sessions on in time frames that suit you.
“What you fuel your body with is so important for not only your health, but also your mind,” says Ben. “If you like to cook and make your own food, plan ahead if you can, and if there are items that you can pre-cut and freeze on a day that is convenient, that’s a good way to ensure you stick to your cooking instead of getting takeaway.”
Another option is a cooking meal delivery service, or if you really don’t have time to cook, consider a healthy store-bought option or takeaway instead.
“Having a plan in place when it comes to what you are eating for the week takes the pressure and anxiety off of making healthy choices,” says Ben.
Your mental health
“Be honest with yourself,” says Ben. “If you are someone who needs space and quiet for a few minutes a day, make sure you get it. Rushing from looking after your kids to doing chores to going to work takes its toll on your mental health.”
If you need 30 minutes to read a book or to meditate, Ben recommends making an effort to fit it in.
“I have been using the Calm App to tell stories to my son and it’s been great – he is chilling out, and so am I.”
Ben’s handy at-home workout
Looking for a simple home workout to get you started? Here it is! Remember to consult your doctor before exercising again if you are postnatal, and please do some stretching before and after each workout .
40 seconds on, 20 seconds rest. Do 3-4 rounds
- Front lunges alternate legs
- Push Ups
- Plank with shoulder taps
- Mountain Climbers
- high knees
- Star jumps
- Sit ups if you can*