by Tiffanie Grady-Gillespie, CPT/Certified Wellness Coach & Owner WickedFiTT

It’s back-to-school time again! And, whether you are the mom who cried dropping off the kiddos on the first day of school (yes, I have seen your Facebook pictures) or the mom who opened a bottle of bubbly to celebrate (yours too), one thing is certain – it’s time. The start of a school year brings a flurry of activities and emotions, any of which can help or hurt your fitness goals.

Here are five tips to help you maximize your time and energy and be the fittest you can be. These tips apply to working moms, homeschool moms and ordinary women, like you and me. Everyone can benefit!

1. Plan meals

Meal planning can mean different things to different people, but doing some form of it will help you meet your goals. Planning out your meals will save time and stress, and will ensure that you eat healthy. The weeks I don’t meal plan are the weeks we eat out more, eat fewer veggies and feel sluggish. Here are some ideas you can try:

  • Plan out 4-8 weeks’ worth of meal plans.
  • Make grocery lists, and rotate these plans throughout the school year.
  • Pick a day and spend an hour or so prepping things like lunches, snacks or dinners for the week. If your kids are old enough, teach them to help you!
  • Shop online. If you have a grocery store that offers this, order your food online and pick it up. You’ll know exactly what you’re getting and how much you will spend. Some stores even deliver, for a greater fee. Make freezer meals in advance to use on those busy nights.

2. Find an exercise that you enjoy

If you hate what you’re doing, you will find every excuse in the world to avoid it. Find a way to do an exercise that you actually enjoy, and make sure it’s effective for your body, works for your lifestyle and fits your schedule. If groups energize you, join a running club or a fitness class. With each of these, you will benefit from the built-in accountability and friendships. This would be good for people who can find clubs or classes that fit their schedules. (P.S. I know a great place!)

Back-to-school can be a busy time, and some may only have time for workouts in the early morning or late at night, or even only very short workouts. If you fit that description, I recommend working out at home, so you don’t have to drive anywhere and can fit it in around your family’s schedule.

3. Schedule your workouts

Whether or not you get an adrenaline rush from crossing things off a list, most parents need a to-do list and schedule to stay sane. Plan your workout times in advance and put it on a calendar or to-do list. Then, use the power of technology to remind yourself it’s time to exercise!

4. Seek accountability

Find a workout buddy. This holds you accountable, makes workouts more enjoyable and can even create a little fun competition to keep you going. If a workout buddy isn’t an option, find someone to check in with you about your exercising and eating habits. Knowing someone will ask is often a good enough motivator. Once again, group fitness is a great accountability route to take. Find what works for you and get started!

5. Play with your kids

You’ve heard it before, and you’ll hear it again – play with and enjoy your kiddos. So even if you aren’t a pro at sports, rebounding your son’s basketball, kicking a soccer ball or playing catch can be great quality time and a chance for you to MOVE! Bike rides and walks are also good options.

And finally, do what you can and don’t put stress on yourself to be perfect. No one is perfect, even if their Pinterest pages make you feel like they are. Remember that your kids need a healthy mom, and exercise and eating healthy are great places to start. By making this a priority, it will show them a great example.

Good luck and God speed! I would be happy to answer any questions you may have and help you on this journey. I believe in you!