Healthy In Every Life Stage: Parents

I will do my best to describe Andy & Judy in a way that gives you a glimpse of just how cool they are. Judy is a dentist, loyal friend, tells the funniest stories, uber-smart, and can put together a fashionable outfit with anything that you give her. Andy is ‘tiger-dad’ (Judy’s description), thoughtful, super handy around the house, a talented cook and sports-enthusiast. Oh, and they have two adorable kids, ages 3 and 5, and a rescue dog. I had the joy of interviewing them in their trendy home, all while watching them in action (and seeing just how much they juggle on a daily basis). I found their responses and tips for living healthy to be honest, entertaining, inspiring, and helpful—just like them!



DEFINING HEALTH: What does being healthy mean to you?


Energy. Having the energy I need to keep up with the kids and not crashing mid-day. Getting enough sleep so I have energy to take care of them, and exercising and eating in a way that I’m fit enough to chase after them.


Keeping up. Taking care of myself in a way—through exercise, diet and sleep—to keep up with life’s demands. I want to be able to live a long time for my kids and be able to do all the things that we want to do together.



CHALLENGES: What challenges do you face at this stage in your life in prioritizing your health and wellness?


Sleep! The main challenge is definitely sleep. Waking up in the middle of the night and super early can be difficult. Right now, life is all about energy conservation.


Kid and adult menus. I have to put a lot of effort into cooking separate meals for the kids. We like eating spicy food, but their pallet isn’t as evolved and we don’t want to eat things that only they can eat. We can’t survive off dry fruit and crackers and want to eat healthy.


Letting go. You can feel guilty if your kids don’t have a home cooked meal every night and you can put pressure on yourself to be the perfect parents. Letting go of comparing yourself to others, especially younger parents with a lot of energy, is beneficial (and necessary).


Making tradeoffs. It’s all about finding the right balance. If you put all your energy into cooking, you won’t have time or energy to play with your kids. And teaching your kids in a positive, ‘optimal’ way every time takes infinite more energy than just telling them no. You have to figure out how to best manage your time and energy.



SUCCESSES: What have you found to work or be successful in living healthy or achieving your wellness goals?


Taking turns. Make time for the other person (spouse) to exercise. Even though we both are at capacity with kids and work, it’s important to take on a little extra and watch the kids so the other person has some free time every week. It can feel burdensome, but it’s worth it. Each person has to do what keeps them happy and sane (e.g., talking to adults, guitar classes, etc.).


Going with the flow. I started doing intermittent fasting by accident. I fell into it because it worked with my schedule—my first meal of the day is sometimes at 2:00. I have changed from snacking to eating larger meals in a smaller window during the day. Embrace where you’re at and go with what works.


Meal planning. We recently started making more home-cooked meals to eat healthier, which requires planning ahead and being regimented. I will say ‘these are the 10 meals I want to make for the week’ and will stock up on items ahead of time to have them available.


Consistency. Reminding yourself to stick to a routine is important for maintaining healthy habits. If you get into slumps where you are eating out more or not exercising, you will see the effects in your mood, your energy level and how you feel.


Self-care. You need to take care of yourself so you have the capacity to take care of other people. Don’t put yourself in the position of getting sick or hurt because that would be a burden on the family. At this point, we do all we can to prevent injuries and panic attacks.



PRIORITIZING: How do you find time to make health a priority?


Create opportunities. Even though our schedules don’t allow for a lot of time to exercise, make sure the other person has opportunities to take care of themselves. The attitude has to be ‘I want you to be healthy’ and vice versa. Also, don’t argue about who is more tired or busy, but adjust your schedule to help the other person out. Rely on others for support.


Filter down approach. Make strategic choices of how you spend your time. I’m not on social media anymore and I also don’t really watch TV because I don’t have the time. You have to be intentional and think about the most important things that have to get done. There are things you have to do and things you want to do. Prioritize from top to bottom (work, family, and then self-time). Think about it as a filter, moving down after you put enough time and energy toward the thing above, and cutting out what isn’t as important.



RECOMMENDATIONS: What advice do you have for someone in your life stage to live a healthier, fuller, more abundant life?


Lifestyle: Go outdoors as much as you can, especially during COVID. Adopt the mindset that you’ll be working hard. If you feel like you’re doing 90% of the work, it’s because there is 180% of total work to do. Also, don’t feel guilty about taking time for yourself.


Mindfulness: You need to have a hobby. It sounds ridiculous, but it’s necessary. You can’t just work, eat and take care of your kids—there is no joy in that. Even if it’s something simple like listening to music or hiking outside, do something that you enjoy every so often.


Fitness: Find a community. I used to do yoga for core stability (and to prevent back pain at work) and really miss it. Think about what your body needs when deciding on how to exercise and tailor your fitness around your life goals. As we’ve gotten busier, we’ve had to pick and choose how we exercise, but it’s important to get your heart racing one in a while.


Nutrition: Cut out soda and watch what you consume to keep extra weight off. It can be easier to be healthy when you have kids because you don’t want them to see you eating junk food or fast food (and adopt unhealthy habits). I also have stopped caring so much about losing 5-10 pounds as it’s vanity weight for me. It takes a lot of focus and energy to lose weight and have chosen to direct my mental energy elsewhere.


Clean Living: Don’t chase labels or buzzwords, but focus on eating the right foods. A lot of people get caught up in marketing trends. Have everything in moderation. A little butter is okay, versus have a lot of ‘healthy oil.’


I’m not a fan of antibacterial products as they don’t necessarily contribute to healthier living. I listen to experts and professionals in the field (instead of influencers). Microbiologists have found that when you kill 99.9% of the bacteria, the .001% that you leave behind becomes resistant. Our culture is creating super-bacteria, starting from the strongest .001%.


Rest: Sleep is more important than food, and I will choose sleep if necessary. Sometimes I’m not sure when I’ll be able to eat next so I will get the calories in when I can. If you don’t get good sleep, you’re being inefficient. If I do something when I’m really tired, I’ll end up doing it poorly and will have to do it again.


Don’t only look at the number of hours you sleep, but also get the type of rest that you need—based on your own body, situation and mental state. Don’t pigeonhole yourself into having to rest a certain way (i.e. if zoning out on your phone is restful to you, go for it). Some people find rest in being social and others want solitude and quiet. Rest is a break from what’s causing you stress.


Judy and Andy Miller in Hawaii