Mom Squad Makeover
"I hate feeling like a frumpy mom!"
Then our Parenting Mom Squad team stepped in: They showed this Tampa mom realistic, streamlined ways to get fit, eat better, and dress to show off her assets (like a killer pair of legs!). Their tips can inspire you, too!
FASHION: Looking good!
Stylist Billie Causieestko gave Rebecca Conklin some key pointers for dressing to flatter her shape, play up her assets, and suit her busy lifestyle.
DO try dresses. They're easy, polished, and work for day or night (Conklin has standing dates with her work pals and husband). A dress elongates your shape and shows off your calves, which tend to stay slim even if you put on weight.
DON'T forget accessories -- especially if you're not ready to give up black or neutral clothes, says Causieestko. Try a bright belt, like this red one, or a rich-hued necklace to draw the eye and lift your mood.
DO invest in a good tailor. If you're smaller on top than on bottom, or can't find jeans the right length, have clothing altered to truly fit your body; it'll work wonders for your image (and your psyche!). [pagebreak]
NUTRITION: Easier healthy eating
The dinner dilemma: When Conklin gets home from work, she's tired and hungry -- and so's her family. It's hard enough to figure out what to make, much less how to put together an entire meal that's actually healthy.
Mom Squad fix:
1. Give yourself a (reasonable) goal. How about trying three or four new healthy recipes each month? That's a lot more manageable than stressing every single day about getting creative, says Mom Squad nutritionist Ellie Krieger. Look for great ones from her new book, The Food You Crave: Luscious Recipes for a Healthy Life, at Parenting.com/momsquad.
2. Focus on healthy side dishes. These were a particular stumbling block for Conklin (she tended to just open up potato or rice mixes, which are starchy and not a great choice every day), but it's actually even easier to make healthier sides than entrees. Grab an apple or open a bag of baby carrots if you don't have time for anything else. (For when you have a few extra minutes, add toasted garlic and a little olive oil to broccoli; the full recipe's online.)
3. Eat well all day. If you have a good breakfast and don't skip lunch, you're much more likely to have a sane head when it comes to making dinner. Krieger suggests keeping whole-grain cereal and low-fat milk at work. That way, you can actually have breakfast without slowing down your busy morning with your family. [pagebreak]
FITNESS: Solutions for busy moms
"I don't even know what to do in a workout."
Mom Squad fix: There are three main components to getting fit (don't worry, you don't have to do them all every day!), says fitness expert Sharon Monplaisir:
How: Think body parts (thighs, calves, arms, back, hips), and hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds.
When: Always after cardio, and every day if you can.
Why: Stay injury-free and improve your mobility.
How: Walk, run, bike, jump rope, hopscotch, whatever makes you happy (or least miserable!).
When: Try to work up to 30 minutes of heart pumping a few times a week (and, if you can swing it, one longer effort -- like an hour -- once a week).
Why: Burn those calories! Plus, it's a great mood booster.
How: Monplaisir likes elastic resistance bands (like the one from SPRI) for strength training: all the benefits, no heavy weights.
When: Three days a week after cardio (but never two days in a row).
Why: Intensify your calorie-burning.
"I can't get to a gym."
Mom Squad fix: You don't need to! Walking or jogging outside is one of the best ways to work out. If, as for Florida-based Conklin, it's too hot (or too cold) where you live, try fitness DVDs or a treadmill (see the one Monplaisir picked for Conklin). The key is giving yourself a block of time.
"I lose steam after a week or so."
Mom Squad fix: Thinking "I'll try to work out this week" makes it easy to skip it. Better: Create small, specific goals ("Walk thirty minutes on Saturday") and avoid the general, daunting ones ("Work out more and lose ten pounds"). See Monplaisir's schedule for Conklin at Parenting.com/momsquad, and then write down a week's worth of workouts. (Be sure to include days that say "No workout!")