Heather joined WW in 2006 in order to become healthier in preparation for getting pregnant. But after a series of ectopic pregnancies, she and her husband, Aaron, decided to help kids who needed a home, and now they’ve got a brood of five adopted kids (at right), and four foster children, ranging in age from 18 months to 9 years. Their youngest and most recent foster child joined the family about a year and a half ago. “Every day is busy,” Heather says. “I’m happy, I love it. I love taking care of the children and helping them with their challenges.” To manage her household brimming with kids, she stays organized, adhering to a tight schedule. By the end of the day she’s bone tired—and that’s when she’s most prone to making less-than-healthy decisions. Here are her strategies for staying in control.
Divide and conquer—a week at a time
Heather makes two streamlined weekly meal calendars—one for herself and Aaron, and one for all the kids. She mines healthy, easy recipes from a variety of sources, including an online meal planning service, WW magazine, and Connect. “I do teach my kids what a healthy meal looks like, even if they’re not eating what I’m eating,” Heather says.
Get active early—and often!
Heather wakes up at 5 a.m. (an hour before everyone else) to exercise by herself. Six days a week she pulls up a YouTube video of Leslie Sansone’s Walk at Home series. “I get in about 2 miles in 30 minutes,” Heather says. “I’m sweating by the time I’m done, and I get 6 FitPoints just for that.”
That lets her get in a good baseline. The rest of the day she’s up and down stairs chasing the kids and doing laundry. Usually her Fitbit shows at least 12,000 steps by bedtime. “Some days it feels like 50,000 steps,” she says with a laugh.
Have emergency go-tos
There are times when standing at the stove is just not possible. Like this past January, when everyone came down with the flu—followed by strep throat. On days like that, Heather turns to a quick assembly meal everyone loves. (See one of her favorite fast, no-fuss recipes at right.)
Schedule downtime—for special occasions and everyday
A few times a year, Heather and Aaron get away for a long weekend while her mother or sister looks after the children. They enjoy precious naps and one-on-one conversations not of the “What time did the baby eat?” variety.
At home, Heather and Aaron regularly catch up before bed—right when she’s most tempted to hit the sweets. Instead of eating chocolate, she crochets: “It gives me something to do with my hands.”
Find what fulfills you
“I pray a lot. ‘Help me. Help the kids,’” Heather says. A longtime singer, she also gets a lot of strength from singing in church. “My kids love to sing, too, and sometimes at home, when the stress is too much, I say, ‘Alexa, play a song.’ Everyone will just dance and get it all out.”
Heather’s go-to burrito
2–3 Tbsp canned fat-free refried beans
1⁄4 c fat-free Cheddar cheese 1 whole wheat tortilla
1⁄4 c enchilada sauce, or to taste
Wrap the beans and about half the cheese in the tortilla, top with enchilada sauce and the rest of the cheese, and microwave for about 45 seconds. (SmartPoints values vary based on the brands you use, but Heather can make this for as low as 2!)