Thanks to the Cleveland American Heart Association for sponsoring this post! In exchange for this content, I received a complimentary ticket to the Cleveland Goes Red Luncheon on February 2.
Becoming parents has forced Mike and me to divide up the ever-growing list of Things To Do. For example, he handles the laundry for himself (duh), Vera (including her cloth diapers) and the household (sheets, towels, etc.). I’ve taken on the job of feeding our family nutritious, filling food – I plan our meals, pack Vera’s lunches and do most of the cooking.
Of course, we also tag team some areas, such as limiting TV time, enforcing bedtime rules and making sure our toddler has plenty of opportunities to burn off her seemingly limitless energy. All of which are important for her healthy growth and development as well as our health!
At the same time, working full time and raising a toddler while being pregnant again requires me to be realistic and focus on taking care of myself. It’s a give and take, for sure. Sometimes Mike and Vera are running in circles around the couch that I’m laying on because I’m so exhausted, and we certainly do our fair share of takeout. 🙂
Still, I wanted to share some of the tried-and-true tips that work for our family when it comes to our heart health!
Plan and prep healthy meals for the week. Meal planning and prep saves my butt at dinner. (I share my meal plans here!) Some of our favorite, go-to recipes are broccoli-lemon pasta, BBQ chicken bowls with a side of roasted veggies, and chakchouka. I also simplify breakfasts: Vera has two homemade freezer breakfasts to choose from: oatmeal or whole-wheat waffles (this recipe, plus we’ve been adding some roasted pureed butternut squash with a bit of cinnamon). I usually eat hot oatmeal (old-fashioned oats, scoop of peanut butter, one banana, dash of cinnamon, tablespoon of chia seeds, and splash of milk) or whole-wheat toast with peanut butter. Plus black hot coffee on the side, of course 🙂
Now, I will say this…meal prep/planning looked VERY different during my first 18 weeks of pregnancy when I felt sick all the time. My approach was to plan out easy, healthy options for Vera’s lunch and dinner, and to try to make something for the whole family at least a couple times a week. Sometimes, I couldn’t even eat what I made, but at least Mike and Vera had a delicious homemade dinner. Basically, we were in survival mode, so boxed mac and cheese made a regular appearance…but I would often use the Banza brand, which features noodles made from chickpeas.
Squeeze in whatever workouts work for you. My pregnancy approach to working out is: something is better than nothing. I’ve been sticking to my “5 days on and 2 days of rest” schedule but incorporating more yoga and low-impact exercises. And indeed, as a working mom, I don’t have an hour to spend at the gym most days (or, um, ever). So short and efficient workouts are the name of the game. Do whatever works for you…just move!
I personally find it helpful to schedule my rest days because that means I am far less likely to skip a planned workout. It doesn’t mean things never get shifted, but it does help me with consistency.
Play together. My toddler recently discovered the “Ants Go Marching” song, so I’ve turned it into a game where we march around the whole house in a line singing. It makes us all laugh so hard, and is proof that simple play and goofing around can equal active time. Plus I believe laughing is good for the heart, so the sillier, the better 🙂
Enroll in family classes. Over the fall, we went to parent-child swimming lessons, and this month Vera and I are taking a Mommy and Me dance class. Not only are we active in these classes, we’re also trying new things, which is great for our overall health, too. And by the way, the swimming lessons were GREAT for my first-trimester nauseau…something about just being in the water always helped me feel better.
Get plenty of rest. Like I said, it’s a give and take when you’re pregnant with a young kid and a full-time job. Sleep is critical for me to have the energy I need to balance it all. I recently purchased a full-body pillow to help me with this one. It was a little more than I wanted to ever spend on a pillow, but a worthwhile investment since it’s helping me sleep better.
I hope these help! For more heart-healthy tips, join me at the Go Red for Women health expo and luncheon on February 2.