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Women's Health

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On the Street With Niki O'Brien

Our experts help this tired working mom get her sleep, skin, and meal-making mojo back.
By Andrea Gabrick
WebMD Magazine - Feature
Reviewed by David T. Derrer, MD

Niki O’Brien, a litigation support consultant and mom in Winter Park, FL, seeks help for exercise, meal planning, skin care, and how to get a better night’s sleep.      

‘Always Tired’

Ask any working mom, "How are you?" and you're likely to hear "Tired!" That's certainly true for O'Brien, mom to toddler Avery. "I am always tired no matter how much sleep I get," she says, "and I never wake up feeling refreshed."

O'Brien and her husband, Paul, also have two other sweet but unruly "kids," dogs Finnegan and Diesel, who keep the couple on their toes. There's just not enough time in the day to get everything done, she says, especially when it comes to cooking and working out. 

"I'm always running out of ideas for healthy meals (and exercise routines) that don't require a ton of time." But perhaps one of the most nagging health issues is her skin. "I still get breakouts regularly!" O'Brien says. "On top of that, my skin is starting to lose elasticity."

Here's expert advice to help her.

Getting Enough Sleep

Sleep is not just about quantity but also quality. Stick to a sleep/wake schedule. Go to bed and wake at the same time every day, including weekends. Your body will like the consistency. And eliminate caffeine by 2 p.m. Caffeine has a half-life of up to 10 hours and can keep you in a lighter sleep stage at night without your knowing it.

Michael Breus, PhD, author, The Sleep Doctor's Diet Plan.

Making Time for Healthy Meals

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's MyPlate nutrition icon is what a healthy meal should look like: Half the plate is filled with fruits and vegetables, one-quarter with grains, and the other quarter with lean protein. When you're planning meals, think of filling in the blanks. And remember: If your pantry and freezer are prepared, you don't have to be. Shop for healthy basics such as canned beans and tomatoes, whole-grain pasta, brown rice, quinoa, and canola and olive oil.

Carolyn O'Neil, RD, co-author, The Dish: On Eating Healthy and Being Fabulous!

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