Several of Weight Off volunteers from five cities across America, who have agreed to follow our 10-week plan, are parents who know this issue well.
New parents Becky and Gary Niederland of Kennett Square, Philadelphia, have twin daughters who keep them running. Still, before beginning our Weight Off plan, it was difficult for both parents to lose any weight. Their combined goal is to lose 50 to 55 pounds.
Dr. Lou Aronne suggests ways to manage being a caregiver -- and taking care of oneself. See also a
Here are Dr. Aronne's suggestions:
- TAKE TIME FOR ONESELF. Dr. Aronne says in the role of caregiver (be it parent or otherwise), it is easy to lose yourself in the day-to-day of someone else's needs. By allowing that to happen, one finds oneself quickly robbed of all energy. At the end of the day, Becky was pooped from managing the girls and could do nothing but sit after dinner and fall asleep. The role of caregiver, as with new parents Becky and Gary (or other types of caregivers), can be stressful. When stressed, people often eat recklessly and can't find the energy to anything other than what is needed. Dr. Aronne says one has to decide to address the way one eats and exercises, despite all other commitments; in essence, to steal back the time and energy that is yours.
- EXERCISE. The best thing Becky has done is found time to exerise, even if it's only 30 minutes a day. Not only is she pumping up her heart rate, she is also improving her metabolism. By forcing the body to expend energy, she is re-directing the manner in which her body processes the food it ingests. By giving Gary a pedometer, he will hopefully make a conscious effort to track the number of steps he takes a day. If he falls below 10,000 steps, he then knows he's fallen below his five miles daily. Our hope is that he will make up the lost steps along the way.
Exercise in increments of 10 - 15 minutes is far more beneficial to the body than no exercise at all. Keep free weights of exercise rubber bands at home for strength training. When appropriate, incorporate the children into the exercise routine.
- DON'T USE CHILDREN AS AN EXCUSE to have around the house food items that run counter to a healthy eating plan. Dr. Aronne says to be a good role model for a child and eat healthy snacks instead. Gary Niederland is really missing his ice cream; he says he considered a half gallon of ice cream to be a portion. That kind of behavior has to stop. It's fine to have a small portion of ice cream from time to time, but it shouldn't come at the expense of one's health and weight loss progress.
- PLAN A DAY TO COOK and cook in bulk. Freeze extra for another night. This frees up the schedule a bit and allows parents time for other things, while not robbing them from the little ones.