Since having children staying in shape has undoubtedly become more challenging in a lot of ways.
And time is more valuable than ever.
My eldest is 3 and half and my youngest is 5 months old at the time of writing this and I want to be with them as much as possible.
The biggest challenges for me are finding time to train and prepping my food, especially when I am on the road.
Being a personal trainer people presume I have all the time in the world to train, but my time is prioritised helping others get in shape whether it be on film or online personal training.
From a healthy eating point of view, me, my wife and my daughter all eat healthily (I'm probably the worst out of all of us).
We eat out less than ever, which helps, and we cook our evening meals from scratch every night.
So, keeping my diet healthy isn't too much of a problem. The real challenge for me is ensuring that I am eating the correct amount to achieve my goals.
Healthy eating Vs Achieving your goals
There is a big difference between eating healthy and eating to achieve your goals.
I often hear people say that "I'm eating healthy but can't lose weight"
That's because to lose weight you need a calorie deficit.
This is regardless to how healthy your food choices are.
The early part of this year I set myself the challenge to do a 28 day lean out and get shred on as little training as possible. It was only a few weeks after my son Charlie was born so the timing was tough.
I think showing how I did it is a useful demonstration to other people out there who might well be in the same situation as me.
Limited time. Limited energy. Big goals.
To achieve fat loss and maintain muscle there are two key things you need to do.
1. Create a calorie deficit to lose fat
2. Lift weights to maintain muscle.
Fortunately, neither of these require very much time at all.
How to hit your calories when you have kids.
Get organised with your nutrition to ensure you are maximising your time and effort. Having lunch prepped each day can keep you on track plus save time and money.
I posted a video of a few meals on my social media recently (see below) and someone commented "this guy obviously hasn't got 3 kids" I explained that he was right, I only have 2 but I also said that these 3 meals and snacks took about 15 minutes to make all of them for the video, and if I had batch cooked a few it wouldn't have taken much more than 25 minutes for a few days' worth.
I often go for pre-made and bagged up protein porridge that only requires boiling water, lunch deli boxes with ingredients that don't need cooking and can be found in any supermarket then simple tray bakes for dinner that can easily be batch cooked.
This stuff is all delicious, easy to prep and ensures my calories are spot on for my goals.
· Know your calorie needs
· Follow a meal plan or track your macros
· Don't eat shit
· Get the whole family eating healthy
· Don't follow a drastic diet that won't fit family life
· Don't cut out food groups
· Eat normal food but the right amount to hit your daily calories and macros
How to train if time is tight
If your goal is fat loss it's likely the first step you will take is to up your cardio. This can work if puts you in a calorie deficit. It can also fail if it doesn't.
The trick isn't to always to do more exercise but to balance your energy intake with a level activity that you can comfortably maintain and achieve consistently.
My suggestion would be to aim for 2-4 weight training sessions per week to maintain muscle. Focus on quality reps and sets of large muscle groups as a priority and if time allows include isolation movements. During my 28 day lean out for the most of it I managed 3 a week.
From a cardio point of view if you have time to include it then that's great, this will allow you to eat more and still achieve a deficit. If you don't have much time for it that's ok though, you just won't be able to eat quite as much.
Either way you can make solid progress.
In terms of cardio intensity HIIT (high intensity) burns more calories than LISS (low intensity) for the same session duration.
But LISS is easier than HIIT and doesn't require much will power, which is useful when you tired AF.
If time is tight then HIIT is a good option if you are up for it. Some days I find it easier to just a little less.
Here is an example of my weekly breakdown during my lean out
· Don't just train to create a calorie deficit
· Do weights to maintain muscle
· Don't reward exercise with food (you will likely over reward)
· Don't trust your fitness tracker for calorie expenditure (it is probably lying to you)
· Worry less about cardio and more about energy balance
Be smart and organised with your training and nutrition and you can achieve amazing results in far less time and with less effort than you thought.
You don't need hours and hours of training or two a day sessions you just need to hit your calorie deficit.
From a nutritional point of view, you don't need to do anything extreme
You don't need to eat 6 times a day, go paleo, cut out bread, fast, go keto or anything crazy. You just need to get your calories and macros right.
Before I go I wanted to introduce you to Tony Brook who did my online plan, he is perfect case study for someone training 3 times a week with a super busy schedule but getting amazing results.
Tony trained 3 times a week, eating 3 meals and one snack a day.