From an outsider's perspective, it should be easy for a stay-at-home mom or dad to lose weight and stay fit. Anyone who has never done the stay-at-home drill pictures hours of leisure time, which can easily be filled with exercise, organic food shopping and healthy meal preparation. Drop the kids at school, run to Whole Foods. Put the baby down for a nap, jump on the elliptical machine.
Those of us who have stayed home while raising children know it is nothing like this. It is hectic. The free hours are piecemeal. It is boring. It does not lend itself to a relaxation and recreation. It is more of a "muddle through the chaos and pour yourself a glass of wine at 9pm" kind of life.
It is easy for me to understand why weight loss is hard for moms and dads who aren't working outside the home.
Here are the main reasons why:
11 reasons stay-at-home parents can't lose weight
1. Parents have a terrible tendency to stand while eating. We have to get up so many times to fetch something for someone else, it is easier to just eat at the counter. Doing this not only prevents you from enjoying your meal, it can make you eat more.
Solution: This one is easy – SIT DOWN. You deserve it. Teach the kids to get their own drinks.
2. For people at home during the lunch hour, the meal often consists of leftovers eaten right out of the container. This prevents portion control and takes the joy out of eating.
Solution: Commit to putting your lunch on a plate, putting the containers away and sitting down.
3. You don’t want food to go to waste, so you pick off your kids plates and then eat a full meal later.
Solution: Put less on your kids’ plates and there won’t be any scraps. If there are scraps, throw them away or feed them to the dog. Better to add to your waste than add to your waist.
4. Meeting a friend at the local coffee ship is often a highlight in the day. Many beverages, like lattes and smoothies are high in calories and low in nutrients.
Solution: Take a walk with your friend instead, or walk to the coffee shop. Once there, opt for skim lattes or low calorie beverages.
5. It is hard not to sample during meal prep. The cook is surrounded by opportunities to snack. A taste here and a bite there add up.
Solution: Don’t let the hunger get the better of you. Food is better when shared with others. Wait and enjoy the fruits of your labor at your family table.
6. Stay-at-homes have no set schedule. Each day is different and presents different tasks needing to be accomplished. Lack of structure can be an enemy to healthy habits.
Solution: Establish one thing you do at the same time every day – meditate, exercise or sitting down to one healthy meal. One healthy habit will similarly organize the rest of your day.
7. Moms and dads will often eat what their kids are eating. Cheese, pasta and bread are fine for growing little bodies and sometimes, necessary for picky palates. But, this doesn’t mean everyone in the family needs to load up on carbs and dairy.
Solution: You have to eat for your metabolism, not the metabolism of a child. Even if your kids won’t eat whole grains and salads, you should make them for the adults in the family.
8. Parents are so busy, they eat on the run. This results in the consumption of packaged and fast foods, with empty calories with poor nutritional value.
Solution: Keep a bottle of water and a can of nuts in your car in case of emergency, but don’t get in the habit of munching behind the wheel.
9. Parents are suffering from the Martha Stewart complex. In our Pinterest-motivated society, we think good parenting is preparing beautiful after-school snacks and desserts. Unfortunately, a warm plate of homemade chocolate chip cookies waiting for little hands is too strong a temptation for most adults to ignore.
Solution: Save sugary snacks for special occasions and provide fresh fruits and veggies for snacking. Everyone will be better off.
10. Boredom leads to snacking. Being busy doesn’t mean you aren’t bored. Lots of the daily tasks of parenting and housekeeping are mind numbing. It is easy to turn to food to add some flavor to the day.
Solution: Drink water flavored with fruit throughout the day, and eat only when you are hungry. Sugar-free gum can also help curb your craving to chew.
11. Stay at home parents may suffer from a lack of motivation. If it is acceptable to stay in work-out clothes all day, and if you often have only your kids and the check-out clerk to impress, it is easy to let yourself go.
Solution: Rather than losing weight for your appearance, focus on a healthy lifestyle as your goal. Someday, you will want to have the energy and the strength to enjoy your empty nest.