How to Parent Like a Champ

I’m Kim Mueller and as a registered dietitian board-certified in sports dietetics and nutrition coach in private practice at Fuel Factor over the past 15 years, I am strongly passionate about health and fitness. I strive to practice what I teach as an elite endurance athlete, having competed at the Ironman World Championships and run a sub 3-hour marathon.

Back-to-back pregnancies in 2013 and 2014 with the new highly rewarding, time-consuming role as mommy has only strengthened my fitness resolve. I strive to inspire people to take control of their wellness and teach my kids to chase their dreams. I am currently on my athletic comeback trail with hopes of qualifying for the 2016 US Olympic Marathon Trials at the Chicago Marathon this fall.

Performing at the top of my game, coaching others, taking significant time off and returning to sport have all taught me powerful lessons about health and fitness. I’d like to share a few best practices I’ve learned along the way:

1) A Daily and Weekly “To-Do” List Keeps You on Task

Especially with young kids who are dependent on you all day, a list of goals is critical for staying on track. I write both a daily and weekly “to do” list, as I have found flexibility in scheduling helps minimize stress. While dealing with a 9-month old and 2-year old, it’s imperative to be able to adjust my schedule at the last minute, and then catch up when I get some free time. I further categorize my lists into a business-focused list, a family-focused list, and training-focused list. While not everything on the “to do” list will get checked off (try not to be too hard on yourself when this happens), I guarantee you’ll be more productive than without a list.

2) To Perform at Your Best, Take Care of Yourself

Before welcoming my first child into this wonderful world, I was given the “stink eye” while continuing to run, even completing a half marathon in my 3rd trimester. Post-partum, there were a few times I was called selfish for training vigorously with young kids at home. What the haters don’t realize is that to be the best version of myself, regardless of which role – mommy, wife, athlete, professional, or friend – I have to take care of myself. This means keeping up with activities and lifestyle choices that feed my happiness and health. In addition to scheduling time to train, I treat myself to kid-free date nights with my husband and girls night out a couple times a month. I schedule monthly massages and even a fun weekend getaway trip every few months to stay happy and healthy in both body and mind.

3) Plan Your Meals in Advance

We know that properly fueling your body optimizes health and athletic performance. Planning out healthy meals in advance is crucial to avoid the “rushed nutrition” that strikes many busy parents and can hurt your body. I recommend putting a menu together for a week and doing your shopping and preparation over the weekend when you are likely to have more time.

Don’t shy away from healthy convenience foods like frozen unsweetened fruits (awesome in oatmeal and smoothies), pre-cut fruits and veggies, canned beans, microwavable grains, pre-cooked meats, and non-meats. Not everything has to be cooked from scratch to be healthy. Costco has a kale chicken burger and vegan burger that are delicious additions to mixed greens or on whole grain bread. Do what you have to do to make sure you are fueling yourself and your family in a healthy and satisfying way.

A bonus to eating healthfully is that kids emulate our habits through the “monkey see monkey do” phenomenon. Helping them actively learn about good nutrition early on sets them up for a lifetime of health and fitness.

For example, my two-year-old daughter and I share a healthy breakfast of

Overnight Oats together. Refrigerate overnight:

  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut almond milk
  • ¾ cup nonfat Greek yogurt
  • a drizzle of honey or maple syrup
  • 1-2 tablespoons of chia seeds
  • 1 and ½ – 1 cup rolled oats
  • Add a handful of natural granola and fruit in the morning and enjoy!

After my morning workout at the gym, we enjoy a picnic lunch at the park. I pack turkey avocado sandwiches, fresh fruit, cheese sticks, fresh veggies from our garden, and hummus. Our snacks together usually consist of fruit smoothies (kefir mixed with fruit), canned soups (my favorite is Trader Joe’s Lentil Vegetable Soup), almonds, and raisins. Dinners are primarily crock pot inventions, as there is nothing more efficient than throwing a bunch of superfoods into a pot to cook while you are chasing after your kids and dreams!

Parting Thought

Some days, you may have to make adjustments to your schedule to spend time with and care for your family. Just remember this makes you a responsible parent, not unproductive. Ultimately, sticking to your goals and finding ways to focus your energy on them not only leads to success but serves as major inspiration for your children to always follow their dreams. What’s better than that?

Written by Kimberly Mueller, MS, RD, Registered Dietitian, Nutrition Coach & Owner at Fuel Factor, IronWoman, Elite Runner, 2016 Olympic Hopeful, Published Author, and proud Mother of Two. For more tips from Kim, check out her website Fuel Factor, read her book The Athlete’s Guide to Sports Supplements and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.