Eagerly awaiting the spring snow melt and joyous emergence of tulips, many parents are feeling taxed by activities, homeschooling and isolation. We all may be ready for a vacation, but it is also a great time to evaluate the family’s goals. Ours included many ambitious health routines – but over the past weeks there has been a definite downward slide.
Embarrassingly, as we race from soccer to playdates, a few unhealthy snacks have snuck into the stuffed family vehicle. In addition, I have skipped several exercise classes due to travel, deadlines and school in-services only to get crippled by the ensuing self-criticism. While our family usually tries to keep health objectives high on the priority list, and strive to be balanced in our diet most of the time, sometimes life gets in the way. We have made it to most soccer games, guitar lessons and have usually remembered to do homework, but unfortunately, our health goals have not always been a priority.
As horrible as it feels to make bad choices or skip exercise from time-to-time, I need to remember to breathe and be gentler to myself. A ‘downward slide’ has to be ok – otherwise we wouldn’t truly be living life. Instead of becoming crippled and inert, I have to remember to slowly ease back towards our health goals without the guilt and self-criticism for veering away once in a while.
The kids and I recently did a popcorn-laden ‘family movie night’ and were delighted by The Martian. Neil Armstrong’s famous words kept popping into my head and really struck me. Small steps may not always lead us into a giant leap for mankind, but small steps can certainly make a stunning difference in our life and health.
I constantly write about shortcuts in the kitchen, turning a store-bought baked chicken into 20 different meals or putting together time-saving frozen smoothie packs and dinner kits on a Sunday in order to inject as much nutrition into the family as possible while juggling a hectic schedule. In reality, though, even with painstaking preparation and fancy photographs of homemade veggie stock and nutrient-rich dishes, I often end up popping a processed frozen meal into the microwave 5 minutes before dinner begins.
Embarrassing as that can be, I don’t think it makes me a bad mom or a fraud as a parenting influencer. It makes me human. (And possibly too honest!) Most of us know ‘how’ to be healthy, but sometimes life just gets in the way. A recent study done by Centrum found that for almost one third (31%) of Canadians, it’s hard to find time in the day for a workout or to cook healthy meals.
And then there are the well-intentioned workouts. How many times have you gotten up at the crack of 5am to head to the gym, only to find a foot of January snow blanketing your car? Pretty as your driveway version of a frozen Arendelle looks, the 30 minutes it will take to clear the fluff and ice off the windows now prevents you from having enough time to get to the gym and back. The list is endless – the school Parent Advisory Council meeting during your exercise class (and the piercing stares you get if you choose exercise over the good of your child’s school), the traffic accident that delays your commute, the child with a fever (obviously because you sometimes fed him a frozen processed meal). So little time and so many things to feel insanely guilty about. Life can get in the way.
Relax, Mom and Dad. You’ve got this. Let’s take a page out of wise and productive role models like Katherine Hepburn, Barack Obama and Steve Jobs who simplify life by wearing a similar outfit daily. Routine is key, and a small step like knowing that you will wear a black suit, blouse and jodhpurs or a turtleneck and jeans will free your mind. So, too, will knowing that you are getting all of your vitamins and minerals daily before you’ve even left the house. What I have learned in my house is that a daily multivitamin is one of the best resources a parent could ever have. Accompanying our breakfast with Centrum is a small step towards maintaining your good health. More than 1 in 3 (34 per cent) of Canadians said that ‘I feel like I’m supporting my health’ when taking a multivitamin, and as a parent I concur. Starting that diet or workout regime ‘tomorrow’ is fine, but taking a multivitamin ‘today’ is a small step – some multivitamins may even support your energy needs.
Motivation is the biggest barrier Canadians face when it comes to implementing healthy habits, with 44 per cent agreeing that sometimes “I’d rather do something else” Just like making your morning coffee or brushing your teeth, taking a multivitamin is more habit than chore. There is no motivation required! And I can attest that I feel more motivated when I know my body is receiving a regular balance of vitamins and minerals.
You may not be aboard the Apollo 11 propelling the world space program into the next century, but taking just one small step for yourself and your family support your desired trajectory to health.