Ah, Spring! The time of sunshine, baby animals, colourful flowers, and trips to the beach with the kids. If that last one filled you with a sense of horror at the idea of squeezing your pale winter body into a swimsuit for all to see, you’re not alone. Women all over the country are dreading the swim season and likely feeling the guilt of all those winter comfort food indulgences. Maybe earlier this year, you promised yourself you would make the time to plan and eat healthily and lose a few kg, but as mums tend to do, you put yourself on the backburner busily attending to kids, drowned your home-schooling sorrows, or simply just couldn’t find the time to be more prepared. But never fear – it’s not too late to start making some changes to be feeling and looking better before Summer rolls around, and in fact, Spring is a great time to start making some simple changes to improve your health!
Tip #1 – Let go of any guilt!
I’m going to tell you a little secret. Even health professionals like nutritionists indulge in ‘unhealthy’ foods at times – late-night chocolate bars, doughnuts, fast food, the lot. We just don’t tend to share it on social media so much. The goal isn’t to completely eliminate those foods from your diet, it’s to find a healthy balance of nutritious foods and treat / fun foods.
Psychologically, guilt can actually be one of your biggest barriers to achieving change. It holds you back in your negative thought patterns, focusing on what’s already been done rather than on making better choices next time. It’s much healthier to accept what’s already happened and try to learn from it. As for worrying about how you look in a swimsuit, I can almost guarantee that you are judging yourself much more harshly than anyone else (most of whom are probably more focused on judging themselves than you anyway).
Tip #2 – Meal Prep (but smarter)
With the weather warming up, comforting casseroles and oven bakes are out, and crisp cool salads are in! Bonus, salads can be super quick and easy to throw together and can be added to any protein to complete your meal. They’re even quicker and easier if you spend just a little time doing some meal prep on the weekend, and I’m not talking the intensive cooking for hours, cutting portions, cooling and freezing kind of meal prep. I’m talking about setting up your own mini salad bar at home! You can pick up a fridge organiser drawer fairly cheaply from most department stores these days, all you need to do is clear enough space for it in your fridge, fill it with containers and spend half an hour or so chopping and grating your favourite salad ingredients. If stored well, things like lettuce, sliced tomato, grated carrot, grated cheese, pineapple, beetroot, sliced boiled eggs, capsicums and onions will last for a week or more. Just top up as needed. You can pull out your salad drawer to make up a side salad to go with some roast chicken, for homemade burgers, on Taco Tuesday, grill some meats to go with it – just pop it in the middle of the table and let everyone help themselves! You can even pull it out in the mornings to make home-packed lunches quicker and easier, and you don’t have to search the entire fridge to work out what ingredients you have that might make a healthy meal. Don’t forget to include some olive oil-based salad dressings to help your body absorb all those great fat-soluble vitamins in your veggies!
Tip #3 – Shop for you too!
When you’re doing your shopping list, or let’s face it, cruising the grocery aisles wishing you’d made a shopping list, it’s easy to focus on making sure you’ve got snacks and drinks for everyone else and forget to think about what you’ll be eating this week. Lunch box items, check, husband’s tea, check, after school snacks, check, healthy morning tea for mum…. Oops! May as well dig that packet of cookies out of the pantry, and since it’s open, may as well have two or four. If you’re busy it’s easy to get overwhelmed and not know what to grab in that half-hour you’re trying to squeeze a grocery store visit into before picking up the kids, so let’s make it super simple. Head over to the notes app on your phone, create a new note called “Healthy Snacks for Mum”, then copy and paste the below list into that note:
- My favourite berries with plain full-fat yoghurt and a drizzle of honey
- Grain crackers with reduced salt peanut butter (or almond butter)
- Wholegrain toast with sliced bananas and cinnamon
- Multigrain crispbread with cream cheese and smoked salmon
- Raw sliced vegies with hommus dip
- Wholegrain toast or multigrain crispbread with avocado
- Unsalted mixed nuts with dark chocolate
That’s a good start, and you can add any other yummy healthy snacks you think of now (go ahead, I’ll wait) or later and take out anything you don’t like or get sick of eating after a while. You can do this for pretty much any meal too. Pull your phone out as you’re heading into the shop, and on your way out, and check you’ve got at least two healthy options ready for the next few days.
Tip #4 – Get moving!
The majority of weight loss is food, but physical activity is a great way to help create the calorie deficit you need to lose weight. It also has a range of other benefits, from improved mobility (especially as you get older) to a boost in mental health and self-esteem. You don’t have to join a gym or smash out an hour-long class to see results. Learn a few yoga stretches to do a 10-15 minute flow morning or night, take a walk around the block with the kids, park a little further away from your destination than normal, do some butt squeezes at the traffic lights, or relive your childhood and grab yourself some roller skates and give the kids a giggle. You can even do some leg lifts whilst you’re lying down scrolling Facebook of an evening. Those little bits all add up throughout the day. That said, if you can afford and make the time to leave the house one morning or night a week for a fitness class or gym session, not only will your physical fitness improve, your mental health will thank you too – trust me!
Tip #5 – Get some personalised advice
Generic tips and information is great and can be extremely helpful, but if you’re looking for real change, or really struggling, it’s time to call in the big guns. What works for one person might not work for everyone, which is why there is so much conflicting advice out there. Even one or two sessions with a qualified Nutritionist or Dietitian can help immensely with getting your nutrition on track. A professional can calculate your daily requirements, help you develop an individualised meal plan, suggest realistic goals and help keep you motivated and on track. If you feel like nothing is working or you’re not sure where to start, a professional can simplify things for you and investigate any underlying issues which may be affecting your health or habits and is well worth the investment.
I am a Health & Wellness Coaching certified Nationally Recognised Nutritionist and mum of two beautiful school-aged children, who is passionate about helping mums rediscover themselves and improve their health & wellness through better nutrition. I operate my own practice in Wellington Point, on Brisbane’s bayside in Queensland, offering in-person and virtual consultations.