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© May 2009 IDEA Fitness Journal

Busy Moms Pack Lunches — and Pounds

Does your busy female client's chaotic home life preclude carving out time for her own health and fitness? She's not alone, according to a study published in the February issue of the Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved (2009; 20 [1], 122-33). The Fragile Families and Wellbeing Study focused on connections between obesity, household instability (financial woes, etc.) and area poverty in 1,449 moms and their kids. The researchers discovered that the mothers with the highest level of household instability had a greater likelihood of being obese. Lead author Earle Chambers, PhD, believes that busy moms tend to focus more on their kids than themselves. “A mother prioritizes her needs well below the needs of her child,” he says. “Some of that is playing a part here.”

While this study focused on low-income families, all busy moms living in “chaotic” households are at risk for diminished health and fitness, says IDEA member and certified personal trainer Linda S. Jassmond Lanfear. “When there is a 'chaotic' household, there tends to be someone struggling with her weight — typically the mother,” she adds. “She is overwhelmed with family obligations, which leaves very little time for her to care for her needs.” If you work with a busy mom, Lanfear offers the following tips to help find ways to focus on fitness:

  • Set Realistic Expectations. A busy mother will not spend hours in the gym. Create a 10-minute workout she can do at home.
  • Make a Schedule. Be sure she sets aside time specifically for exercise.
  • Strive for Moderation. A strict diet will likely not work. Instead, help her become more aware of portion sizes and suggest she keep a food journal. Also advise her to choose easily prepared home-cooked meals over fast food.
  • Embrace Chaos. Encourage her to participate in playtime and have children help with chores.
  • Act as an Accountability Partner. You are there to help her stay on track. Offer consistent guidance and support.

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