Goal Setting

A Back-to-School Weight Loss Lesson

Written by: Marlee B

The back-to-school rush, whether it’s for you or your kids, is a time of transition.

We go from carefree fun-in-the-sun to morning routines, after-school homework, extracurricular activities, and much more. We may start it off with the best of intentions, and as excited as we can be for these new busy schedules, being busy can also add on pounds.

Despite the things that can easily get in the way of keeping up with our fitness goals (like all those things I just mentioned), I came up with 10 suggestions for you to stay on track while you adjust to a new way of life!

10 Back-to-School Weight Loss Hacks

1. Say “Adios!” to Eating Out

A person holding a fast food burger with a bite taken out of it. It seems that they splurged and opted for a cheeseburger.

When you are in the car driving your kids back and forth between baseball practice, soccer games, student council meetings, and so on, it’s “Hello!” to eating out and having Happy Meals and Big Macs in the car. Or, for busy moms and dads who are in school and work, it means Jimmy John’s sandwiches in front of your computer or delivery pizzas in your office.

These unplanned excess calories from fast-food meals can cause weight gain. However, I totally understand that busy schedules are hard to eat around!

So, on the days you know you’ll be playing taxi driver or studying late, try packing peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the kids, and a fresh grilled chicken salad for you. Have water bottles on hand, have chewing gum within reach, and have healthy snacks like string cheese, nuts, or slices of fruit. This will help you not cave in on unhealthy food options.

So, say “Adios!” to eating out and offer a welcoming “Hello!” to picnic dinners at those baseball practices or soccer games. You will be making the best out of busy schedules by creating conversations, memories, and building relationships with your kids, all while teaching them healthy habits!

2. Learn to Relax

Like I said, being busy can add stress, and stress can add extra pounds.

This is because ghrelin, the chemical in our bodies that stimulates appetite, increases food intake, and promotes fat storage, triggers hunger for “comfort” foods (foods that are high in fat and sugar) when we are stressed.

Stress means different things to different people, but some stress factors that come with an upcoming school year might include getting out the door on time, due dates and deadlines, organization, social pressure, or upcoming tests. Conquering stress won’t occur overnight, but it helps to plan and practice.

First, plan. Write a list of things that help calm your mind during a moment of stress. Maybe it’s a brisk walk, five minutes of silence, an unplugged screen, taking a few deep breaths, or a hug.

Second, practice. When you feel a stress response like an increased heart rate, quickened breath, tight muscles, or high blood pressure, it’s time to act. Practice one or two of the items on your list to help you cope with a stressful situation.

Keep in mind that our bodies are designed to handle small doses of stress, but we are not equipped to handle long-term chronic stress. An excess of stress can lead to consequences like headaches, upset stomach, insomnia, frequent colds or infections, and low energy.

3. Build in an Exercise Program

A woman doing a single leg body squat outside on a cool afternoon in the fall

Workouts during the school year can be hard to come by, so they should be scheduled just like they are a doctor or dentist appointment.

Write them in your calendar and look at it every day. Seeing your exercise planned out for you will help you feel like you are more in control no matter what kind of chaos the school day brings!

4. Don’t Skip Meals

Whether you are busy in between classes or running around your child’s school as PTA president, it can be hard to pause long enough to have a meal, and finding healthy snacks is a challenge.

However, bad snacking and extended time between meals can sabotage your fitness goals, so it’s important to have options on hand that help you stay full, fit, lean, and healthy! A few staples of healthy snacks to take with you that will help you keep up with your busy life and busy kids are:

-Protein Bars

-Apple slices

-Cottage cheese

-Greek yogurt


-Meal Replacement Shakes

5. Avoid Temptation

A bag of crinkle cut chips

Ahhh…it’s 3:00 p.m. and that sugary snack attack signals your cravings! But, before you reach, stop and assess yourself. You might need to ask, “Am I really hungry?” It’s absolutely normal to do some non-hungry eating, but when we do too much, it can tip our eating out of balance.

This can also go for any bites, licks, or tastes you take off your kid’s dinner plates or the butter knives when you’re finished spreading the peanut butter on their bread. Eating these leftovers can add up to the equivalent of an extra meal. Every calorie counts, so be mindful and avoid the temptation!

6. Become a Morning Person

Mornings can be chaotic, especially with kids. It can be hard to get them up and ready with breakfast eaten, lunches made, hair done, and getting important papers signed.

But even just waking up five or ten minutes before your alarm will give you extra time to prep your own meals, stretch, pack your gym bag or anything else you need to do to ensure you have a successful day! Your health is just as important as your kids’!

If you want healthy, happy kids, you must be healthy and happy, also!

7. Embrace Incidental Exercise

A woman walking down a street with a structured bag in her hand

If you find yourself really struggling to add in some exercise, try this: look at what your kids are up to for the week and plan your exercise around it.

If your daughter or son has swimming lessons, take a 30-minute walk or run around the facility. Make any park time an exercise by letting your kids chase you on the trails or sidewalks as you run. Or, while you’re making dinner, do 10 push-ups while you are waiting for the microwave or do 10 squats after washing your hands.

This will quickly add up to a tight booty!

8. Don’t Worry, Be ‘Appy!

Apps are everywhere, and with that, there are plenty to help you stay in-line with your fitness goals! I know that storage space is precious, but if you’re serious about health, you won’t regret signing off of Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, even just for a time.

In a recent study, participants who used fitness apps were much more active compared to non-exercise app users and even had a lower Body Mass Index (BMI: measures your height to weight ratio).

Some popular fitness apps include: Lose It! Calorie Counter (best for nutrition tracking), Trifecta (best for all-around tracking your fitness whether in the gym, outside, or at home), and MyFitnessPal (an oldie but a goodie that comes with a gigantic food database to help with meal prep).

Downloading a pedometer to track your daily steps will also be beneficial to your day-to-day tasks while you’re walking around campus or walking to the bus stop to meet your kids.

9. Focus on Feeling Good

Two young women stand side by side and laughing at something funny that one of them must have said.

You won’t feel guilty about ‘slip-ups’ in your meal plans if you factor them into your weight-loss plan from the start.

You won’t feel groggy if you wake up at the time you set your alarm.

You won’t feel bloated if you drink enough water throughout the day.

You won’t feel “hangry” if you eat regular, healthy snacks.

You won’t feel like a failure as a parent or a student with a busy schedule if you are realistic about your fitness goals through healthy eating and exercise.

That said, focus on feeling good rather than looking good because when you feel good, the results will naturally show!

10. Be Grateful for the Less-than-Perfect Days

The swing of school can lead to a lot of less-than-perfect days, either with your diet, exercise, or when your kid forgot to mention the book report he has due in the morning that he hasn’t even read! Such situations may lead to an unhealthy dinner and lack of sleep.

Maybe it’s not that funny when something goes wrong, but having gratitude for the good things goes a long way!

Remember that food is just food – labeling it as “bad” or “good” often causes us to feel guilty about ourselves – and a day is just a day, and we are lucky enough to start again tomorrow!

Lose Weight the Healthy Way!

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