Young Parents Ditching Their Healthy Lifestyles?

According to this Reuters article, it seems that becoming a parent may make it harder for you to maintain a healthy diet and exercise regime. As a 30-year old (reasonably young) guy who four months ago became a father for the first time, I can certainly vouch for this…but in hindsight, it’s hardly surprising to other parents.

The study mentioned in the article found that people who were on average 25-years old and had children aged 5-years or younger, generally exercised less often than non-parents of the same age group. In particular, young moms also had a tendency to consume more saturated fat and sugar-laden soft-drinks.

I must be honest that the past four months have been the best of my life…they’ve also been the most tiresome. Thankfully my son got into a sleeping routine early on, so my wife and I managed to get some sleep…but not all the time.

Our whole healthy lifestyle and daily routine had to change in order to adapt to the little guy’s arrival.

It was hard to avoid not dashing out and getting a convenient meal to nuke in the microwave. Nevertheless, we had to make an effort despite the lack of energy and daily requirements of being a parent.

The key is to plan and organize your meals, exercise and daily routine for the week ahead. This not only takes the stress out of what to prepare for dinner, but it also allows both parents to allocate a little of bit of ‘me’ time while their partner looks after the baby.

This ‘me’ time can be anything you want it to be. For me, it was keeping fit. Luckily enough, I managed to extend a little bit more out of my ‘me’ time by looking after my son while exercising.

You see, the area where we live in Christchurch is pretty hilly meaning that a brisk walk pushing the baby stroller up and down the suburb’s many inclines could easily substitute my preferred morning training sessions on the beach.

It wasn’t my usual routine but I definitely felt some exertion. Best of all, I now manage to spend more time with my son…even though he’s usually sleeping while I’m sweating, puffing and panting up the hill!

If you’ve just become a parent or already are one and struggling to maintain or get back into your healthy lifestyle, here are a few tips:

  • Plan your meals and exercise routine a week ahead. This will help keep you on track. Knowing that you’ve already spent money buying groceries for Wednesday’s meal plan could help you avoid stopping by the convenient store for unhealthy fast-food…therefore saving you more calories and spending more of your hard-earned cash.
  • Some of your best exercise may be done with your kids. Any parent will tell you that keeping up with a toddler can be exhausting. Why not channel that young energy by heading to the beach, park or playground with your little one and play a few games. By doing at least some form of physical activity, your health will definitely benefit from it.
  • Inevitably, a child’s eating habits will to some degree be influenced by his/her parents. If you and your partner have given up your healthy lifestyle for fries and greasy take-outs, you could be increasing your child’s preference for this lifestyle. Set the right example by doing it yourself.
  • Working together as a team with your partner can not only help keep your relationship close, it also enables both parties to spend a bit of free time by themselves…even if it means catching up on a few hours sleep from the night before.

These tips are by no means set in concrete. They have worked for my wife and I but this doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ll work for you. Preferably use them as a guideline to set your own parenting plan in order to ensure that your health and lifestyle doesn’t slide downhill.

Good luck, stay healthy and enjoy this new chapter in your life.