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Losing weight is hard for anyone, but it can be particularly challenging if you’re a stay-at-home mom. Between taking care of the kids, managing the household, and possibly working from home, finding the time and energy for weight loss can seem like an impossible challenge.
The stay-at-home mom lifestyle can also be physically and emotionally exhausting, which may lead to increased stress levels. “Stress can trigger overeating or make it harder to stick to a healthy eating plan,” says Catherine Gervacio, registered dietitian (RD) and nutrition writer for Living.Fit.
Another challenge facing stay-at-home moms is feeling they need to prove their worth. “Since they are not contributing to the household through a paycheck, they are constantly expected to be doing something since they are ‘home,’” says Yelena Wheeler, MPH, RDN. “Many stay-at-home moms are afraid to be perceived as selfish if they take time out to exercise or spend energy on meal prepping for themselves instead of tending to the family's needs.”
Despite the challenges, losing weight as a stay-at-home mom is possible when you break it down into small, manageable steps. From setting realistic expectations with your family to incorporating mindful movement into your daily routine, we're here to empower you with actionable advice from experts in nutrition, fitness, and health.
1. Start gradually
One of the keys to successful weight loss as a stay-at-home mom is to start gradually. Don't overwhelm yourself by trying to implement drastic changes all at once. Instead, take small steps towards a healthier lifestyle. Begin by making subtle adjustments to your diet and daily routine. Gradual changes are more sustainable and will help you form healthier habits over time.
2. Prep meals on the weekend
Meal preparation can be a lifesaver. Spend some time on the weekend planning and preparing meals for the upcoming week. This will not only save you time during hectic weekdays, but also help you make healthier food choices. Having nutritious meals ready in advance reduces the temptation to opt for unhealthy fast food or convenience snacks when you're pressed for time.
3. Set expectations with your family
Communication is key when embarking on a weight loss journey as a stay-at-home mom. Sit down with your family and explain your goals and the changes you plan to make. Setting clear expectations and seeking their support can make a significant difference. Your family's understanding and encouragement can help you stay motivated and make it easier to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
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4. Create set times for self-care
As a stay-at-home mom, it's easy to put yourself last on the priority list. But scheduling dedicated self-care time is crucial for weight loss success. Get to know the self-care pyramid. This step-by-step approach helps you identify exactly what you need in terms of self-care at any given moment. Consider adding microbreaks throughout the day to make sure you’re taking care of yourself as much as you’re taking care of others.
5. Minimize ultra-processed food
Ultra-processed foods are often loaded with unhealthy additives, excess sugar, and trans fats, making them a significant obstacle to weight loss. Instead of relying on packaged snacks and convenience foods, opt for whole, minimally processed options. Fresh fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, beans, and whole grains should form the foundation of your diet.
6. Stock your freezer with frozen veggies
Frozen vegetables are a convenient and nutritious addition to your diet. They retain their vitamins and minerals, making them a valuable resource for stay-at-home moms.
“Keep easy-to-add veggies like bagged baby spinach or frozen broccoli to toss into dishes to up their nutrient content,” suggests Sara Chatfield, registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) at HealthCanal and stay-at-home mom.
Whether you're making a stir-fry, a soup, or a smoothie, having frozen vegetables on hand can help you create healthier dishes without the hassle of frequent grocery shopping.
7. Prioritize rest as much as you can
Adequate sleep is crucial for weight loss and overall well-being. As challenging as it may be for stay-at-home moms with young children, try to prioritize rest whenever possible. Ensure that you're getting enough sleep by establishing a bedtime routine and taking short naps when your child does. Quality sleep not only supports weight loss but also helps manage stress and cravings. There is absolutely no shame in taking a nap when your body needs one.
8. Listen to podcasts about health and nutrition
Knowledge is power when it comes to weight loss. “Whenever you have free time, such as when you're cooking, try listening to educational podcasts about nutrition. This will help you build awareness of your body's needs,” suggests Anna Chabura, personal trainer and creator of Health Means Happiness.
There are numerous informative podcasts that can provide valuable insights and tips to help you make informed choices about your diet and lifestyle. The Doctor’s Farmacy hosted by functional medicine doctor, Mark Hyman, could be a great start.
9. Find a movement buddy
Staying active is an integral part of any weight loss journey. Consider finding a movement buddy—a friend or fellow mom who shares your fitness goals. Exercising together not only makes workouts more enjoyable, but also provides mutual support and accountability.
“Making plans to meet up with a friend for a walk can be a great way to get in more exercise plus social interaction,” recommends Chatfield. “And you may be more likely to stick to your exercise goals when you commit to a plan ahead of time.”
10. Incorporate mindful movement into daily tasks
Finding time for structured workouts can be challenging as a stay-at-home mom, but that doesn't mean you can't stay active.
“Try and incorporate gentle, but intentional movement into your daily routine. This could be standing leg abductions while doing the dishes or walking up the stairs with good posture while focusing on getting your heels down on each step,” recommends Camille Meskill, pilates and fitness instructor.
There is so much you can do throughout your day without having to set aside an hour or 30 minutes. These small, but consistent movements can add up and contribute to your overall activity level.
11. Try short bursts of exercise
When time is limited, short bursts of exercise can be incredibly effective. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts, for example, can be completed in as little as 15 to 20 minutes and provide excellent results. These quick workouts can fit into your schedule, even on the busiest days, and help you burn calories efficiently.
12. Create a movement playlist
Music can be a powerful motivator during workouts. It can support you in staying in a positive frame of mind and keeping depression and anxiety at bay.
“Create a playlist of your favorite music which you can go to quickly when needed,” recommends Meskill. “This could be a selection of relaxing music for some gentle pilates or some upbeat music for dancing and having fun while moving.”
13. Involve your children
Incorporating physical activity into family time can be a fun way to bond with your children while staying active. Go for family walks, play active games, or have dance parties in the living room. Not only will this benefit your weight loss journey, but it will also promote a healthy and active lifestyle for your kids.
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14. Practice mindful eating
Mindful eating involves paying close attention to the food you eat, savoring each bite, and being fully present during meals. As a stay-at-home mom, it's easy to rush through meals or snack mindlessly while multitasking.
“Listening to the body's hunger and fullness cues is very helpful,” suggests Gervacio. “Also, plan balanced meals and snacks to prevent impulsive eating. Include a variety of nutrients to ensure you’re getting essential vitamins and minerals.”
15. Keep protein-based snacks close at hand
Protein is essential for satiety and muscle maintenance during weight loss. Keep protein-rich snacks on hand for moments when hunger strikes. Greek yogurt, nuts, hard-boiled eggs, and lean meats are excellent options. These snacks can help keep cravings at bay and provide sustained energy throughout the day.
16. Be ready for the afternoon slump
The afternoon slump is a common energy dip for many stay-at-home moms. “Getting tired at 4 p.m.? Try an apple. Apples tend to give more energy than a coffee without the crash. The natural sugar can help the sugar cravings subside as well,” says Cara D'Orazio, certified personal trainer (CPT). “Really craving a coffee? Try for one to two cups max a day. Half-caffeinated is a better option than full.”
17. Drink more water
Staying hydrated is often overlooked, but is crucial for weight loss success. Sometimes, our bodies mistake thirst for hunger, leading to unnecessary snacking. Make a habit of drinking water throughout the day to stay properly hydrated. Consider infusing your water with fresh fruits or herbs for added flavor.
18. Track your progress
Keep a journal of your meals, workouts, and how you're feeling physically and emotionally. Robin by One Drop (available on iOS and Android) helps you monitor your food intake, exercise, and weight loss progress. Having a record of your efforts can motivate you to stay on course and make necessary adjustments.
19. Take advantage of YouTube
Many women mistakenly believe that going to the gym is necessary for weight loss. “Since stay-at-home moms often can't go to the gym, they may avoid exercising altogether. This is a misconception!” says Chabura. “You absolutely don't need to go to the gym. In this era of YouTube, you can find 10, 15, or 30-minute at-home workout videos designed for all fitness levels.”
From yoga and Pilates to HIIT workouts and dance routines, you can find a wide range of exercise options that can be done from the comfort of your home. YouTube can be a valuable resource for stay-at-home moms looking to diversify their fitness routine.
20. Seek support from a professional
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you may face obstacles in your weight loss journey. Don't hesitate to seek support from a professional, such as a registered dietitian nutritionist. They can provide personalized guidance and strategies tailored to your specific needs and circumstances. Find out if you’re eligible for Robin by One Drop, a coaching-led weight loss program supported by GLP-1 medications.
21. Consider GLP-1 medication
If you've tried various weight loss strategies without significant success and have a BMI (Body Mass Index) that qualifies you, GLP-1 medications could work for you. These medications can help control appetite and may be an option for those struggling with overweight and obesity. Robin by One Drop is the only GLP-1-supported weight loss program designed specifically for busy moms. Find out if you’re eligible today.
The Bottom Line
Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight as a stay-at-home mom is undoubtedly challenging, but it's far from impossible. By implementing these practical tips, you can make steady progress toward your weight loss goals while still prioritizing the needs of your family.
Remember to start gradually, involve your family in your journey, and seek support when needed. Your health and well-being are worth the effort, and with dedication and perseverance, you can achieve your weight loss objectives and set a positive example for your loved ones.
This article has been clinically reviewed by Hanna Rifkin, RD, CDCES, clinical health coach at One Drop.