Today my guest is Melissa Jorgensen. Melissa is married, has two kids, and is able to make it all work. Her family is eating healthy, she’s getting in her workouts, and she manages to stay sane in all of this. Read on for her tips
Q & A Melissa Jorgensen
JK: Melissa, tell me a little bit about how you started to put everything together in terms of the family and healthy food and what you did to get started.
MJ: I was really fortunate because I had some pretty good routines established before I became a mom. After I became a mom it was a big eye opener because all of a sudden my time wasn’t “my time” anymore. I had this human depending on me for everything.
I decided early on that I was going to have to take care of myself so that I could take care of him. That meant asking my husband for help and asking family and friends for help. It also meant realizing that taking time for myself was not selfish. But it was a necessity, so that I could be a good human and a good mom.
JK: I think that’s super important to mention taking time for yourself because I have so many moms that are like, “I have so many people that depend on me, I can’t take care of myself.”
If you don’t take care of yourself, everything else falls apart. It’s really important that you’re keeping yourself healthy in all of this.
MJ: Yes. It’s crucial. I realized that the morning is sacred time for me, and that’s when I really need to focus on taking care of myself. So I get up before everyone else to get to my morning routine. I usually have a cup of coffee because I have two children so caffeine is a necessity in my life. Then I head out the door and either go for a run or I go to the gym.
There are mornings that it is really hard because I hear the little guy screaming as I’m running out the door. But I’ll take that hour or so before my husband goes to work to really make sure my physical needs are met.
Then I come home and I am so much more present and less grumpy with the kids when I start to work with them. Once you establish the routine, it becomes habit, and it becomes part of your life.
JK: How long did it take you to get that routine established?
MJ: I do one thing at a time. I didn’t wake up one day and decide that I’m going to start running and being vegan and establishing this routine. I chose one thing first.
I would say it takes 3 weeks to create a habit. But for those to be lifelong, sustainable habits it takes about 6 months of doing the same thing over and over.
JK: I’m on the same page, for me to get a routine it really has to be something that’s ingrained month after month.
MJ: You can easily establish a three-week routine going running every morning when it’s summertime and the weather is nice, but the true test comes when it’s dark and cold and everyone is sleeping. If you can go through the different seasons and maintain those habits, that is when things get established.
JK: Tell me about how you set up your routines. Do you write things down? Is there a visual component?
MJ: I love making notes and lists. On the weekends I sit down and look at a full week, and I plan out my training because I am training for a marathon right now. I also plan out the meals for the week.
Each night I make a to-do list for the next day, down to the everyday things like making the kids breakfast at 8am. I write it out every night because it helps me to process my day and check things off and feel accomplished.
JK: There’s something about having a list and checking it off that’s satisfying. It’s great time management. Because then you know what’s coming up; you can br better prepared and on time.
So, Melissa, you lay out the schedule and you write everything you do down. It sounds very detailed. Do you put your menu plan out somewhere?
MJ: I put it on the fridge so that everybody can see it. Sometimes it changes.
Something I am working on right now is budgeting. My meal plan toward the end of the week will be leftovers or whatever is in the fridge. It is saving me time and I’m not making extra trips to the store. We get creative with what we have available, and my kids eat with us.
Many people ask me how I get my kids to eat things like quinoa and veggies. I’m lucky in that even in utero they were getting used to the flavors that I eat. My kids still sometimes complain, but I just keep presenting it to them.
Some people ask how I cook all of this for myself and prepare a whole separate meal for my family. I don’t. If I’m making something that I don’t think my kids will eat combined, I separate out the ingredients.
JK: I think that’s a really good point that you’re highlighting, because I get that question often from moms. If they are changing their diet they think they will have to make something separate and create more work for themselves. One thing I try to get across is that everyone should be changing their diet together. There is really no such thing as “kid food”.
MJ: I don’t think everyone has to be vegan to be healthy, but I always say “vegan is love” because we have a lot of emotions around food. A lot of people want to show their kids love by giving them ice cream or pie. Sometimes thats okay. But in their everyday lives one of the ways I show my kids love is by feeding them in a way that I know is going to be best for their body, mind, and spirit.
JK: I think a lot of people struggle with having the basics in the kitchen to just whip something up. What do you think should be staples for the kitchen that you should have all the time?
MJ: I always have whole grains and we store them in giant mason jars so I can see when we are running out. I always have brown rice and quinoa and gluten free oatmeal. We always have nuts and seeds and nut butters. We get most of our produce from local farm and we pick it up once a week. So if we get to the end of the week and we are low on vegetables, instead of going to the store to buy produce I will add some spirulina to the oatmeal or rice to get some micro-greens in. I keep that on hand along with tofu and vegetables, whether they are frozen or fresh.
JK: Tell us a little bit about how you go about cooking things ahead of time.
MJ: I go through seasons where I’m really into food prep and I’ll take 2-3 hours on a Sunday. I will prepare a few healthy family meals and chop up vegetables for salad so that it’s ready to go. I like to bulk prepare beans, rice, and quinoa. Those are things that you can keep in the fridge and be ready to go to make a meal.
There are times when I do massive amounts of food prep on the weekend and there are times where I cook everyday or every other day. I’ll make a curry in the crock pot. With curry, it’s easy to have it with quinoa one night and then brown rice or some other type of grain the next night.
JK: So having a base plan and then modifying it as you go. I do that myself. Can you tell us what your day looks like if you’re not food prepping food on the weekends?
MJ: I get up at 5:30 and I’m running by 6am. My day starts at 7:30 where I’m feeding kids, changing diapers, etc. I keep the mornings pretty flexible. I use that time to start cooking for dinner. It’s really nice at the end of the day to have food prepped and ready to go. If I do that in the morning it feels like I can be more present with my kids in the afternoon.
JK: Something to keep in mind is that it boils down to time management.
MJ: Everyone’s lifestyle is different and our schedule is kind of sporadic. You do have to find a plan that works for you. There is no one-size-fits-all. But the key to success is being prepared.
Learn More About Melissa and Healthy Time Management
We are so thankful for Melissa sharing a little about her process of preparing healthy family meals while maintaining a healthy lifestyle
To hear more from Melissa about useful tools for time management as well as how to get the most out of your day while juggling life and family, listen to the full-length episode here. Melissa also has a website where you can check out her wellness resources and coaching services.