DENVER — Who comes first in your family?

For many families, it's not mom. Kids, spouses, homes and everything in between can sap time, energy, and personal commitment to health and weight.

Now that the kids are back to school, it’s time to take a step back and decide what steps you can take to make sure that your personal wellness is taken care of. After all, doing so will increase the chance that mom and dad will be on this earth longer to enjoy your family.

Limit eating to 8-10 hours a day

If you really wanted a cheeseburger at 2 a.m, you probably wouldn’t have to go far to find it. That doesn’t mean you should.

Americans eat around the clock, leading to a massive abuse of nourishment, weight gain, disease, and increased mortality.

A fasting concept called Time Restricted Eating (TRE) limits the hours (not the portions or even types of food) you’re eating throughout the day. For many of my mom patients, they will have their first meal at 11 a.m. and their last ending at 7 p.m., allowing them to enjoy dinner with the kids at the end of the day.

Studies show that putting your body in daily fast can lead to significant improvements in health, weight, and longevity.

Go to bed earlier

Sleep plays a large role in weight, cravings and overall health and when the caring of kids takes precedence, it’s hard to get enough. Getting less than 7 hours a night, however, is associated with disruption of hunger hormones ghrelin and leptin  leading you to overeat and perceive hunger when the body does not actually need food. Lack of sleep can also lead to weight gain.

Studies also show that “catching up” over the weekend doesn’t work either – it can actually backfire on you instead.

Throw out the scale along with the unrealistic expectations 

The scale provides a somewhat obscure number you may obsess over. It simply tells you how much stuff resides within your skin but can’t give an accurate assessment of your fat to muscle ratio. A better bet is to use a pair of pair of pants as a better predictor of weight gain or weight loss. Using a tape measure can also help to achieve this. Multiple studies show that waist size is a better predictor of health than BMI.

Along with the scale, consider also throwing out the expectations that what works for your friend may work for you. Genetics, age, gender and environment are powerful predictors of weight loss and wellness success. There is no one-size-fits-all plan.

Follow American Heart Association Guidelines for alcohol 

Are you part of a secret mom’s club? It could be disguised as a book club, dinner club, or even playdate club but there always seems to be the star attraction that always prevails — alcohol.

Indulgence in the club can often led to weight gain (including more belly fat), sleep disturbances, and overeating of non-nutrient dense foods (like sugar, fried foods, and white refined grains).

Science studies wonder if drinking really has the benefits we all thought it did. Moderation is often recommended from public health agencies but the problem is, “moderate” if often a subjective term. A 5-ounce glass of wine, a 12-ounce beer or a 1.5-ounce shot is the daily limit for a woman. I suggest actually doing the measurement with your glasses at home to see what this really looks like.

Get a buddy 

Studies show that both telling a friend about your wellness goals and involving them in the process can lead to a higher rate of success. This may have a lot to do with the accountability factors associated with starting, and sticking with a program.

Get your family on board

If your back to school wellness goals involve improvements in diet, you should know that your spouse and kids can be your biggest obstacle. Getting them on board means that tempting foods are out of the house and that achieving physical activity will become as common as making your bed in the morning (another ritual associated with improved wellness).

Eat Less Red Meat

Recent studies show that eating more plants and less red meat (defined as anything with 4 legs) can help improve health and significantly lengthen life by preventing certain forms of cancer and heart disease. The worst offenders? Processed red meat like bacon and sausage. Limit your cheeseburger to no more than 1 per month.

Reward Mom with non-food

During the summer, ice cream can be a constant factor and may even be used to reward a successful baseball game, good behavior, or just because it’s summer.

Too many ice cream trips can unfortunately add up. Once the kids are back at school, rewarding yourself with something more meaningful to you can work better in your favor. Many of my patients will get a new workout outfit which has the added benefit of impacting physical activity frequency.

More Food – Less Supplements

A 2019 study found that food, not supplements helped to improve health and lengthen life. Limit your supplements to no more than 2-3 (if at all) and spend your money on fruits and vegetables instead.

Get out of the gym and onto the trail

A 2018 study found that being outdoors helped with stress management, blood pressure management, as well as reduction of disease such as type II diabetes and heart disease. It even helps to prevent early death.

Take advantage of that Colorado sun by putting on your sunscreen and taking your walk outside!

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