Women's bodies are pretty incredible. We grow babies in our body, we push the babies out of our body, and we feed the babies...with our body. That's a lot of work our bodies have to go through! Adjusting to life with a newborn can be busy and stressful. The desire to hit the gym and start exercising again, while great, can sometimes seem impossible. I've set my alarm for 6 am for two weeks in a row now, every night with the intention of getting up and working out from 6-7am before I need to get the boys ready for school. I've actually gotten up and done that one time in the two weeks. Sometimes I feel like if I don't get to the gym by 6, my opportunity to exercise and be healthy is over for the day because now I need to get kids fed, dressed, driven to school, grocery shop, feed the baby, on and on.

After having Eli, I've realized that just because I can't make it to the gym everyday doesn't meant that I can't be healthy. Here are a few tricks I've learned to fit into my everyday life while taking care of kiddos.

Exercise wherever you are.
Taking care of a baby isn't for sissys. All day long you are hauling a 20+ lb baby carseat from the house to the car, from the car to the grocery store, back to the car into the school, etc.  You are loading heavy groceries into the car, lifting your stroller, pushing your stroller up the hill to the school, carrying a baby on your hip, helping a toddler see over a tall fence, etc. I'm on my feet constantly and all that heavy lifting is definitely a workout!

If you haven't had a chance to hit the treadmill, take your kids to the park and walk/jog next to them on the walkway. Sometimes I do stroller squats around the park while Cash plays at the playground (hold onto the stoller with both hands and lunge with each step you take). Park a little further from the school and make yourself walk up that hill for afternoon pickup. Incorporate exercise throughout your day...and chances are, you're already getting a pretty good workout just taking care of the baby!

Invest in quality workout clothes.
I find it a whole lot easier to get out and exercise when I have workout clothes that I actually want to wear. Being already dressed in comfy running shoes or a cute sweat-wicking top makes it easier for me to get out and move around more. And get some nursing friendly options too! I've been looking all over for a good nursing friendly sports bra. I finally found this front zip sports bra at Zappos and I ordered it immediately.  It was at my house in 2 days (free shipping!) and now it is so much easier to nurse Eli after a workout.

Pack yourself healthy snacks.
I am always throwing fishie crackers and granola bars in my bag for the boys to snack on.  If you don't have something for yourself in your bag, chances are you are going to get starving (especially if nursing) and you are going to eat the extra bag of fruit snacks because you don't have anything else. I always have a bag of nuts in my bag. They are filling and healthy. I buy this jar of unsalted nuts fills up two of the nut containers perfectly. It is so yummy!

Keep taking your vitamins.
Just because you aren't pregnant anymore doesn't mean you should stop taking your prenatal vitamins. I also take 3 of these biotin pills to help with my skin complexion and post baby hair loss (because hormones be crazy!).  I take one Fenugreek pill everyday because it helps with my milk supply. I tend to lose my milk after 9 months, and this supplement has really helped keep my supply up. It might not be necessary/beneficial for everyone, but it has helped me.

Drink tons of water.
I've never been a big water drinker. It has no taste to me and it's so hard for me to force myself to drink water. I've been flavoring my water with Mio and now I drink so much water! My guilty pleasure is the Mio Energy (black cherry flavor) mixed with a squirt of Mio lemonade. (it tastes like strawberry lemonade!) The Mio Energy gives me a much needed caffeine boost throughout the day. I know it isn't the best option, because it does have an artificial sweetener, but I just do one squeeze into a giant thing of water...much less than the recommended serving. And it's got to be healthier than Diet Coke, right?!

Prep your meals beforehand.
Diet is a HUGE part of getting and staying healthy. I always heard that and believed this, but it wasn't until I started cutting down my sugar intake drastically that I actually saw how much diet helped even when I don't have time for intense workouts.  If you follow me on Instagram or Snapchat (leannebarlow), you probably know that I eat pretty much the same thing everyday (with the exception of dinner). I've streamlined my diet so that I know exactly what I am going to be eating that day and barely have to even prepare it.

The trick is to do it all on Sunday night. I prep my breakfast and lunch Mon-Fri on Sunday nights. That way I can just grab the pre-made tupperware from my fridge and inhale it as I feed my own kids. I've listed out my recipes for breakfast and lunch below...

For Breakfast: Overnight Oats

1/2 C Old Fashioned Oats
1/2 C Greek Yogurt 
(I love this Strawberry-Honey one. I just buy a quart of it at the grocery store)
1 tsp chia seeds 
1/3-1/2 C Almond Milk
(I use the unsweetened kind. I do a little less than 1/2 cup. If it's too dry when I go to eat it in the morning, I just add a little more)

Pour all the ingredients into a tupperware, mix it all up with a spoon, and stick in in the fridge. I make 5 at a time, so I do it all really quickly and don't really use exact measurements. They last about 5-6 days in the fridge, so its perfect to make for the whole week. In the morning I just chop of some bananas or strawberries into it and add a small scoop of jam or a little honey and mix it all up. The chia seeds and the oats absorb the milk overnight, so it's the consistency of oatmeal. Eating cold oatmeal might take a little getting used to, but I'm hooked! And it keeps me full till lunch. 

For Lunch: Chicken Sausage Veggie Bowl

2 packages of Chicken Sausage (the Italian Style is my favorite)
2 C uncooked brown rice or quinoa 
4 zucchinis (I do 2 yellow and 2 green)
3 sweet potatoes
Garlic Powder (to taste)
Salt/Pepper (to taste)
Feta Cheese
1 can of Roasted Red Peppers (I buy the ones that are pre sliced so I don't have to chop them up each time)

This makes enough for 7 days worth of lunches for me. 

On Sunday night I cut up all the sausage links (I cut them all along the center length-wise first, then across about 1/2" wide), and throw them all in a big skillet with some EVOO to brown. While they are cooking I put my rice in the rice cooker, and I chop up all my veggies. I cut up my zucchini the same way I do the sausages, along the center and chopped. I peel the sweet potatoes and slice them 1/2" thick, then cut each in half both ways, kind of like a mini pizza. Once my veggies are cut, I let them sit out on the counter for a bit so they all have a chance to dry from being washed. If I store them while they are still wet, they will get moldy faster. Once they are fully dry, I throw each one into a gallon ziploc bag with a paper towel inside (to absorb any extra liquid). I store all my cooked rice/quinoa and my cooked sausage in 2 separate tupperware containers and throw them in the fridge too. 

When it's time for lunch, I put the rice/quinoa in the bottom of my bowl (I do a little more than 1/2 a cup), and top with about 1/2 C of sausage, and about 1/2 C zucchini and 1/2 C sweet potatoes. Then I stick it in the microwave for 4 minutes. This is long enough to cook the veggies so I don't have to dirty another pan just to cook them! Then I sprinkle lots of garlic powder, salt and pepper over the veggies, add a little feta cheese and roasted red peppers, and mix it all up. 

I'm not a huge cook, and I came up with this recipe bit by bit over the past year. I wanted a way to eat lots of veggies but not have to take a lot of time to cook them each day, and this way works!


So don't be too hard on yourself! It's hard work taking care of kids, and chances are you are getting more exercise then you are giving yourself credit for! 

*Photography by Kendra Maarse Photography. In collaboration with Zappos.

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