Put YOUR health first. Yes, first. Above your kids, your husband and your job. Sounds strange huh? Most moms put themselves LAST on the priority list. There’s just not enough time, so you surely can’t make health a priority. It would be selfish of you to care of yourself, right? Wrong!
Chances are that you are the backbone of your family. When your kids get hurt you have to be there to take care of them. When your husband gets sick, it’s you again. The reality is that you can’t afford and don’t have time to get hurt or get sick. But you will. You absolutely will get sick or hurt if you don’t take care of yourself. There’s no cheating in health. You can’t postpone it and say that you’ll do it when you’re kids are off to college or when you retire. The longer you go without taking care of yourself, the longer and more severe the consequence for neglect. It’s a lot easier to get a few walks in a week than to be in the hospital and follow-up with rehab after a heart attack. I don’t mean to be extreme, but the fact is that heart disease is the number 1 killer of women in America. It’s a pretty easy thing to fix. Eat well and exercise.
What you won’t do for yourself you will do for your family. So do it for your family. Eat well and exercise so that you can be a healthy role model for your kids. The fact is that they all take your lead. Aren’t you the one cooking the meals? If you aren’t eating well neither will they. Your children should see that mom values her health and enjoys exercise. Maybe your husband will even be inspired by your increased energy. And they will all benefit from you being in a better mood, less stressed and less tired. So now, how to do it? How do we get you to make yourself a priority?
You need a plan. How many times have you said that you are going to start exercising only to be back in your old routine of skipping it just days later? The same obstacles that stood before you last time will stand before you again. You need to have a plan to overcome what held you back last time (and the time before, and the time before that).
Take a quiet moment and pull out your calendar / appointment book. I know you’re going to tell me that you’re busy from morning until night and can’t fit another thing in. True, but now you’re going to change your priorities. Let’s take a look at where things can change. Be honest with me, how much time do you spend watching TV? I love the shows as much as the next gal but the fact is that it’s wasted time. Are you a morning person or an evening person? You’re tired no matter what, so would it really make a difference if you went to bed 45 minutes later or woke up 45 minutes earlier? The tiredness from the loss of sleep is far made up with the energy from exercise. I’m a morning person so I set my alarm clock one hour before the rest of my family wakes up. This is the only hour of the day that’s just for me. What can you do in that hour? Go for a run, do a workout video or get out for an early morning gym class. Did you know Netflix and Blockbuster Online offer fitness videos? That’s a great way to keep your workout fresh.
Or, if you have stroller-age children, set aside an hour to do a stroller walk or join a Stroller Strides class. It’s a great way to get out with your baby and get in a workout. Whatever you do, find 4 days per week that you can schedule a workout. If it’s not on your schedule like an appointment, it won’t happen. You need to keep that appointment with yourself just like you would with any other on your calendar. Why do I say 4 days per week? 3 days of exercise is actually all you need to maintain health. 5 days is what you need if you want to lose weight. 4 days is a reasonable compromise. And, if for some reason you miss a day, you’ll still be getting in enough to maintain health. If you are able to get in an extra day, then all the better.
It doesn’t have to look like exercise. Yes, I do recommend that you get cardiovascular, strength and flexibility into your workout one way or another. But you can get more active in lots of untraditional ways. Play tag with your kids. Go ride a bike with them. Next time you take your kids to the playground, don’t just sit on the bench and watch. Join in. Dare try the monkey bars or just run around with them. If you have a baby, get on the floor and play with her. Use her as a weight as you lunge or squat with her in your arms. “Bench press” with her as the weight or put her on your legs as you do sit-ups. Make your kids part of your workout and they will get the message that exercise can be fun. But it’s not just about exercise, we need to eat well in order to support health and energy. Get active, get healthy and get happy!