Don’t Let the Stress of Back to School Derail Your Fitness

Nowadays, it’s not just kids who are getting the back to school jitters.  It’s parents too!  A recent survey conducted by Care.com revealed that 55 percent of parents feel more stressed during the back to school season and more than 30 percent experience significant anxiety over it.

By September, bonfires, barbeques and beach days are just warm memories of a great summer.  For many the fall means rigid schedules, new logistics to juggle and heavier workloads.  And, with about 70 percent of kids participating in extracurricular activities according to Pew Research, family schedules can fill up so quickly that it can seem almost impossible to have time for anything else.

For anyone trying to stick to a fitness routine, back to school can be especially challenging.  It’s easy to put off working out in favor of another activity or event that may seem more important.  Of course you can’t be in two places at once and sometimes something has to give.  But skipping multiple workouts can put you on a slippery slope that’s hard to climb back up.  Follow these guidelines keep your fitness on track:

  • Schedule your workouts: Choose a time for your regular workouts and stick to it. In fact, put them on your calendar in indelible ink! Schedule 4-6 fitness “appointments” each week. These could include workouts that happen at the gym, in your home or outdoors. But, regardless of where they happen, the key is carving time out of your schedule to make your workouts a priority.
  • Put time into food prep: It’s so easy to make poor food choices for yourself and your family when you’re pressed for time. That’s why investing a little time in advance for food prepping is important. Keep washed vegetables, fruits and pre-cut meats on hand to make preparing lunch and dinner easier. Sketch out a schedule of meals for the week and be sure your refrigerator is stocked with all the ingredients you need to eat healthy and nutritious meals that will keep you fueled up.
  • Get your sleep: People often underestimate how important sleep is for adults. Shoot for at least 7 hours of sleep each night to give your body a chance to rest, rebuild your muscles and release the stress of the day. Skimp on sleep too often and you’ll quickly find that your body is off kilter.

5 Quick and Healthy Meals for School Nights

Make your school nights simple with these 5 meal ideas.

Monday

Monday: Hidden veggie meatballs
Ingredients:  1 small sweet onion, 4 oz. baby carrots, 4 mini sweet peppers, 1 cup of whole wheat bread crumbs, 1 egg, ½ cup of mild bbq sauce (try Annie’s Organic BBQ sauce), 1 lb of ground turkey

  1.  Place the onion, carrots and peppers in a food processor to chop finely
  2. Combine the egg, breadcrumbs, turkey and BBQ sauce and mix well
  3. Form into golf ball sized portions and place them in a baking dish
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes

Serve these over brown rice or quinoa.

Tuesday

Tuesday:  One dish chicken and vegetables

Ingredients:  1 lb of boneless chicken breast cut in quarters, 12 petite yellow or red potatoes cut in quarters, 12 oz of green beans, 3 cloves of garlic minced, 1 tablespoon of herbs de Provence, ¼ teaspoon of salt, ⅛ teaspoon of pepper, a drizzle of olive oil

  1. Place potatoes, chicken and green beans in rows in a 13×9” baking pan with the chicken in the middle
  2. Drizzle with olive oil and season with herbs de Provence, salt, pepper and garlic
  3. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes

Wednesday

Wednesday: Oven fried chicken
Ingredients:  6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs or 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts, 2 cups of panko, ½ teaspoon of garlic powder, 3 eggs, ¼ cup of buttermilk, salt, freshly ground black pepper

  1. In a medium bowl, mix together panko breadcrumbs and garlic powder and season generously with salt and pepper
  2. In another medium bowl, whisk together eggs and buttermilk
  3. Pat chicken dry, then dip into egg mixture. Dredge in panko to coat all sides
  4. Place on baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and bake at 425 degrees for 1 hour until golden and crispy

Thursday

Thursday: (Almost) Meatless sloppy joes
Ingredients:  2 tablespoons olive oil, ½ cup finely chopped white onion, 1 tablespoon minced garlic, ¼ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, 6 ounces ground sirloin, ½ cup grated carrot, 2 teaspoons chili powder, 1 teaspoon brown sugar, ½ teaspoon dried oregano, ¼ teaspoon ground red pepper, 2 cups canned crushed tomatoes, 1 (15.5 oz) can low-sodium red beans, rinsed, drained, and divided, 4 whole-wheat sandwich rolls, split and toasted

  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add onion, garlic, salt, black pepper, and beef to pan; cook 5 minutes or until meat is browned and vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally to crumble beef
  2. Add carrot, chili powder, sugar, oregano, and red pepper; cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally
  3. Stir in tomatoes; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium; cook 10 minutes or until thickened and carrot is tender, stirring occasionally
  4. Partially mash 1 cup beans with a fork or potato masher. Add mashed beans and remaining whole beans to pan; cook 1 minute or until thoroughly heated.
  5. Spoon 1 cup bean mixture onto bottom half of each roll

Friday

Friday:  Simple baked salmon

Ingredients:  2 cloves minced garlic, 6 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon dried basil, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon ground black pepper, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley, 2 (6 ounce) fillets of salmon

  1. In a medium glass bowl mix garlic, olive oil, basil, salt, pepper, lemon juice and parsley
  2. Place salmon fillets in a medium glass baking dish and cover with the marinade
  3. Marinate in the refrigerator about 1 hour
  4. Place fillets in aluminum foil, cover with excess marinade, and seal
  5. Place sealed salmon in the glass dish, and bake at 375 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes