by Game Changer Strength and Nutrition Coach Rob Riccobono
The following post was written for all “Fit Moms” who are trying to manage their own health and fitness, while selflessly caring for their families 24/7. If you are not a mother or parent, this post still includes lifestyle tips to help you with your own nutrition.
In an effort to offer advice from someone who has “walked in your shoes”, I conducted an interview with my first ever nutrition success story, Elaine. She is married, a mother of five, and works 45+ hours/week. In July 2011 she began her final ever “diet”, dropping from 195lbs to 135lbs, and has maintained her body weight ever since. I presented her with challenges our Game Changer Fit Moms share with me, and she shared the strategies that we found work best for her, as well as offering her insight..
Cooking for the Family
The Challenge: When parents want to begin a fat loss plan, they often ask, “Do I have to start cooking differently?” or “Do I need to cook multiple dinners for myself and my family?”
Her Fit Mom Solution: Elaine says sometimes she does eat differently from her family, so she plans for it. She simply prepares two variations of the same meal. Other times, her family eats what she eats. She cites a specific example: “If my daughter or husband is cooking and making chicken cutlets, they make some breaded chicken cutlets, and some of them grilled for me. If I’m cooking, I might just make them all grilled….if anyone wants it, they have to eat it grilled.” She’s made her own health a priority, and sometimes that leads to changes for her family’s food choices too.
Restaurants and Ordering Take-Out
The Challenge: It’s easy to get off track when eating out at a restaurant, or ordering from a pizzeria or Chinese food place for the family.
Her Fit Mom Solution: “Restaurants always have foods you can eat, you can always ask them to prepare something. Like with me, a lot of times I would want grilled chicken, and I didn’t see it prepared the way I wanted it, and I would ask them if they could prepare it a certain way, and they ALWAYS did. I’ve never had a problem with that.”
The Challenge: What if you are out somewhere that definitely does NOT have any healthy options?
Her Fit Mom Solution: “As far as…like if you go to a game, or if you’re busy shopping, I sometimes won’t eat until I come home. Or I could take a piece of fruit with me, or almonds.” She brings her own food when she can, finds a healthy option, or waits until she can prepare a healthy meal herself.
The Challenge: Many parents look forward to a nightly glass of wine or beer to unwind from the long day, and alcohol is such a big part of social gatherings.
Her Fit Mom Solution: As part of her dinner ritual, Elaine has a glass of wine every night. When she needed to cut calories, we knew reducing her alcohol consumption was an easy place to start. “I would just have it on a Sunday, a glass of wine.” She manages to fit in a glass each night now as she maintains her weight, but when it was time to lose body fat, she knew what she had to do. We did not label alcohol as “forbidden”, but we knew greatly moderating her intake would help. No secret solution here, she just made a small sacrifice.
Nutrition During the Holidays
The Challenge: Holidays, parties, and other events dissuade many people from either starting or continuing with good nutrition practices. Isn’t it difficult to make progress with so much temptation and fatty foods around?
Her Fit Mom Solution: Elaine was diligent with sticking to our plan, so this allowed her some freedom during the holidays. But she didn’t let things get out of control. “The first time I ‘cheated’ was Christmas Eve. I cheated Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and then I went right back.” She wasn’t discouraged by the small break from her plan. “I didn’t want to start going back up the other way. Because I’d had so many failed diets in the past, I didn’t want this to be another one. I was determined not to have another failed diet.”
Busy with Family, Work, and Life
The Challenge: As a parent, you have little time to take care of yourself. And when you do have time, you’re often so tired that the last thing you want is to control your portions and stick with healthier options, especially when you are craving some comfort food and relaxation.
Her Fit Mom Solution: Elaine has 5 children, is out of the house almost 12 hours each day for work, and spends the majority of her weekends with her parents in Brooklyn and New Jersey (she lives in Staten Island). She explains her attitude towards this, and gives her advice for others very honestly: “If you are ready to do this, then you will prepare the meals if you have to. No matter how busy you are, you make the time if you really want to do it.” She doesn’t say it’s always easy, but rather “it’s like anything else, if you really want to do it then you have no choice. You just have to take the time to do it.”
Discouragement from Past Diet Failures
The Challenge: Why should someone even bother trying if they’ve seemingly tried everything, and have had years of failed and yo-yo diets?
Her Fit Mom Solution: Elaine experienced failed diets for almost 30 years after having kids. She finally broke that pattern, and says the biggest change came within her mindset, and encourages others to do the same. “If this is something they really want to do, don’t give up and think you can’t do it…you can do it. ANYBODY can do whatever they want to do. Once you lose some weight, then you know that it’s true. Even if they are like I was, where you constantly go up-and-down, up-and-down [with weight]….they have to know it’s something they can really do, and they’ll feel so much better about themselves.”
Take Home Lessons for Fit Moms
The basic principles for good nutrition are universal, you simply need to employ them according to your own lifestyle. Raising a family might not assist your fitness journey, but it does not have to hinder it either. You CAN overcome life’s obstacles to take control of your health. Most of these challenges are more in your mind than you may realize.
I saw someone overcome these challenges everyday: my mother, Elaine, one of the busiest people I have ever met. Now I see it every day in many of you Game Changer Fit Moms. You are capable of achieving anything you want. Don’t let anything stand in your way.