How Parents Can Lose Weight When In Survival Mode
How Parents Can Lose Weight When In Survival Mode
Parenting is freaking brutal…
How is that for an introduction?
It is currently 7:29pm on a Monday evening. As I type this, my wife just swapped out with me after laying down with our 3 year old daughter for the past 30 minutes despite it being Valentine's Day and both of us working all day so we were honestly hoping for a few hours to ourselves to recharge and reconnect…
Yeah, not when your child is battling an on-going fever, massive congestion, and a consistent (and annoying) cough that is keeping her from falling asleep and thus, keeping mommy and daddy from having some private time.
As I laid with my daughter allowing my brain to spin…and patience be tested, I thought to myself and realized that this week, I was in pure survival mode! Allow me to elaborate - for those that don’t know, I run two successful businesses, one centered around Personal Training and the other around Graphic Design. Needless to say, both stretch me very thin but I honestly love both and can’t imagine myself doing anything else.
You take this understanding and you apply it to this week’s current stressors, including but not limited to: taking care of 3 dogs (one of which is a puppy and tears up everything he sees), taking care of a sick child and getting limited sleep, promoting a brand new product set to launch for our business next week, helping a struggling friend move his mother into her new home with limited hands to help, preparing to teach a class for your church’s youth group, running the necessary errands for your family, maintaining the cleanliness of your home and oh yeah…did I mention I’ll be doing everything by myself since my wife is escaping, oops, I meant leaving for an important trip to New York to attend a Bridal Shower for 6 days?
Seriously, you single parents that do this lifestyle 24/7 deserve the largest treason chest in Heaven! I know to some of you I might sound like a bit of a whiner, but give me some grace and stay with me for the meat and potatoes of tonight’s message, I promise it’s valuable…
Allowing my brain to spin even faster, I remembered all the parents I’ve spoken to during the 12 years of being a Personal Trainer and what advice I’ve given to them when they’ve used the sensitive words, “survival mode,” and used that as the reason behind their lack of progress in regards to their health and fitness goals. This was an eye-opening moment for me since this was the exact moment whether I would become a hypocrite and go against all the advice I’ve given out previously or I would be a man of my word, honor my own teachings and use them to propel me forward past this massive hurdle in front of me.
Well, here I am typing this out to you about to repeat the same things I’ve shared with my fellow parents and implement into my own life to maintain my sanity for the next week or two as I combat this “survival mode” I’ve found myself in.
Breaking News! After 1 hour in bed trying to fall asleep, my daughter is back up and running around the house. I think my wife has already started packing her bags LOL.
Tips for overcoming survival mode and maintaining your weight loss goals:
Name Your Top 3 Priorities/Responsibilities
If all we do is see the mountain of tasks we are responsible for handling without properly organizing them according to importance, don’t be surprised when your anxiety levels skyrocket. We must periodically remind ourselves that as human beings, we are only capable of so much. For several years now, the first thing I’ll do each morning after going for my walk is establish what the 1-3 most important tasks or priorities I have that must be completed. Everything else is secondary or non-important. Establishing these 1-3 priorities helps maintain our mental focus on the tasks we need to complete while preventing us from getting a scattered brain due to the overwhelming amount of tasks we see ahead. For me, this means taking care of my daughter and making sure she is my top priority while she is sick, making sure my current clients in both businesses were taken care of and no projects were left outstanding, and making sure we maintained a clean home while my wife was away.
Reduce the Load
If the first tip was labeled as number 1, this tip should be labeled as 1b since they honestly go hand in hand. When parents face time periods of survival mode, this is when we must be in damage control mode as well. Meaning, no huge leaps forward in our personal goals will probably occur…and that’s okay! This simply means we are in the mindset to prevent any potential chaos from ensuing. The first step of preventing future problems occurring, such as mental breakdown or physical exhaustion, we must recognize once again that we as humans have our limitations so we must delegate out as much as possible and if delegation is not an option, then we must either postpone or remove the task all together to conserve our energy.
Before completing this blog, I made a call to the youth group coordinator of our church and kindly asked her to find a replacement since teaching this weekend’s class would be too much for me and I’ll make up the day in a few weeks. On top of that, I canceled all of my 1 on 1 personal training sessions for the back half of the week while my wife was away so those are a few less things I have to worry about.
Focus on Small Wins
This is where our personal goals come into play whether that’s health and fitness, financial growth, career growth or whatever. When we are in survival mode, it’s easy to lose motivation, find ourselves growing more anxious and losing control over our emotions. This is why I love the small win philosophy which suggests that when we start to feel down, look for a quick win-a task that will potentially move us forward in the direction of our desired outcome and award us a bit of motivation. For example, if our goal is to lose weight and this is a stressful week for you, instead of overwhelming yourself with the idea you need to do 60-90 minute workouts 3-4x’s this week, meal prep the perfect recipes and drink a gallon of water; convert that into smaller wins so you feel like you are at least moving forward, even if it’s just a tiny bit such as drinking one glass of water in that moment, taking your vitamins, going outside for a few minutes for sun exposure, adding in a vegetable with your meal, having a protein shake, doing 10 push-ups, etc. Nothing suggested is impossible or mind-blowing but added together over time, such as our investments, can lead to an awful lot!
Sleep & Energy Balance
If I seriously took the time to put these tips on a priority list, this one might honestly be on top, especially when it comes to health and fitness. I’ve mentioned in previous blogs the importance of getting enough sleep and how that impacts weight management as well as our hormonal health due to stress hormone release but the harsh reality is, sleep is king, especially when it comes to stress management and overall mood stability. During days, weeks or seasons of stress, we must combat that with stress management techniques such as deep breathing, prayer, exercising, listening to calming music or whatever activity helps calm you down.
As a good colleague of mine says, as parents we are used to giving and giving but how often are you filling up your own cup? Most likely not nearly enough. Another way of looking at it is this, look at it as a withdrawals vs. deposits approach. You can only keep allowing your spouse, kids, job, in-laws, finances, etc to withdraw your mental/emotional and physical energy so much until you overdraft your bank account. Be sure to perform activities periodically to recharge your batteries and make some deposits into your life so you can show up better for those that need you.
Isolation is the Enemy
Studies have shown that individuals that plug themselves into their local community whether it’s by joining a group fitness class, a weight loss challenge, FB group, or even hiring a coach or mentor dramatically increases success rates vs. trying to achieve your desired outcome by yourself. This is even more important when we are in times of struggle. When we are isolated, it’s very easy to get caught in our own negative thoughts and emotions and if you’ve done any digging into the world of psychology, you’ve probably heard that making decisions when we are in a heightened emotional state is one of the worst things you can do. When we are alone, we can easily justify having that second or third cheat meal, skipping that important workout, not meal prepping, staying up late, etc.
Understand How the Human Body Actually Works
This has become a hot topic recently when I’ve done live trainings, I’m assuming since not enough health professionals talk about it, but we do not lose or gain 5-10 pounds miraculously overnight, I don’t care what you ate during Christmas or Thanksgiving! This is the reality of the human body - the number we see on the scale and what represents our total body weight is accumulated due to a variety of factors such as bodily fluids, food consumption and eventual waste product from said food, bone mass, muscle tissue, inflammation, and fat tissue. People automatically believe that if they jump on a scale first thing in the morning and the scale jumps up a few pounds that it’s fat tissue. Take a deep breath because that just isn’t the case. During heightened times of stress, if you skip a few workouts or lower your overall food quality, you will not gain a bunch of fat so give yourself the break! The best thing you can possibly do during these seasons is stay focused on the controllables as mentioned earlier - eating enough vegetables and protein, keeping stress down, walking and overall daily movement, drinking enough water, etc.
Develop a Reward System
During stressful seasons, we need to monitor our overall energy balance and be sure to reward ourselves periodically, even daily, to help us feel more positive about pushing through these rough times. It doesn’t have to be something crazy or expensive, something as small as a mother taking an extra long shower or bath to calm herself down typically helps my wife or a dad getting to play 15 minutes on his Xbox between work, that’s my go-to. And, if there has been an extended few weeks or months where life has gotten difficult and you’re still pushing through, hire a babysitter and go out and do a fun activity! It all circles back to how we show up each day for our loved ones. Remember, we can’t pour from an empty cup, no matter how much of a beast or hustler you think you are!
It is now Wednesday afternoon and it’s taken me almost 2 days to write this out. Frequently I asked myself if I really wanted to write something this emotional but I’m happy I did. I hope this blog helps uplift you as much as it has helped me by writing it. Just remember this last thing, none of us are perfect! No diet is perfect. No exercise routine is perfect. No parent is perfect. We will have our ups and downs, but as long as you just keep showing up each day and giving it your best, you will succeed, I truly believe that. Stop trying to live up to the expectations of others, stop trying to be like your favorite “perfect” family you see on YouTube or Instagram, just be the mom or dad YOU want to be. Be there for your spouse, be there for your kids, be there for yourself!
"Coach Taz" aka Taylor Rodriguez is the owner and head coach of Taz Fitness & Nutrition. He is a Personal Trainer & Nutrition Coach located in Deltona, FL that coaches individuals online and in person. Taylor was a former partying pro wrestler turned fitness enthusiast after the economic downturn of 2008-2010. After losing almost 70 lbs, his new passion is to help struggling individuals find new confidence within themselves to achieve any goal that they see possible. To begin coaching with Taylor or to request a free consultation, contact us today.