(Originally In The May 18th Edition of Exposure Magazine.)
As I hit my 50’s, I “created” a health crisis- Literally, I was sitting in a hospital on my 50th birthday. I say “created” because my own behavior led me to it. The journey to better health started out of necessity. Two years ago, I found myself over committed, overwhelmed and incredibly stressed. Like a lot of working moms and entrepreneurs, I felt I could handle it all. I had 3 jobs, countless volunteer jobs and was also a wife, mom, animal mom and much more. Something needed to give- and unfortunately it was my heart that yelled from the inside- “Hey, we protest this treatment!”.
I had to reassess the priorities in my life for my health. I found through this process I needed to focus on three core priorities. To do this right, I excused myself from many of the responsibilities that were dragging me down, eliminated the jobs I didn’t need, and refocused on my health. I want to share with you a bit about my journey and break down the three core goals I set for myself.
Restorative sleep- we need it. When you don’t sleep properly you will be heavier, unhappier and sometimes cranky. All three are undesirable, but common. Shut down and repower your brain. Some interruptions are unavoidable, like soothing a child or grandchild in the night, but the majority of us need to shut it down for seven to eight hours a night. Limit any light entering your brain 30 minutes before sleep. It signals your brain to slow down for restoration. No electronics- phone, television, Kindle, etc. Your sleep patterns, and ultimately your body, will thank you. I suggest quiet meditative time working on your I AM statements in the complete dark before bed. I AM Confident, I AM strong, I AM healthy, I AM a goal getter, etc. You choose your own I AM because you know where you are headed. Your brain continues to work on the tasks you give it before bed. Focus on what you want to manifest by repeating what you want to accomplish the next day! Intention and mindset is everything. One may find this weird, but I spoke to my heart every day during my health crisis, and still do today. I tell it I am grateful that it is healthy and happy and wonderfully made. When I find myself stressing, I tell my heart to be strong, work correctly and maintain balance. I am not able to control others so I focus on my own health and wellness. Healthy mindset = healthy body. I claim it. And I sleep to retain it.
The second core goal is exercise. No I am not a gym rat or a marathon runner. You don’t need to be either. Here is what you DO need to do… move. Exercise is about baby steps- or maybe upping the total number of steps. People become overwhelmed with the idea of exercise. Make it simple. If you love to watch TV, commit to planking for a commercial break, or doing 25 squats or 20 sit ups each break. Decide to walk the same number of minutes you choose to watch TV. Stop talking yourself out of exercising. Start small but be consistent. There are no excuses. Seriously, there is a modification for everything. If you are very overweight, then start with walking to the end of your driveway or the other end of your house. Increase the distance each time. Maybe you will be able to reach the end of the block next time. If you need to stop and catch your breath at any time, do so. Document your progress. Progress is the motivation that will keep you consistent and on task. The last and most important part of exercise- NEVER compare yourself to others and their journey. Run your own race!
Last and most important core goal. You cannot out train your diet! Yes, you are what you eat and drink. Figure out what you want your eating goals to be. Yes, it’s confusing, but you have to be able to maintain your plan, so it has to be able to be done as a lifestyle change rather than a fad diet plan. I prefer learning how to eat real food with a balanced consumption of nutrients while controlling sugar intake. Read labels and avoid excess sodium and packaged food. It’s convenient to eat packaged foods, but come with a cost, often an expanding waist line. There are lots of resources online to help you get a handle on the food intake part. I prefer the My Fitness Pal app, especially for beginners, as it helps you actually SEE what is happening when you eat certain foods. Nutrition is 80% of improving your health. Your water intake is critical. In helping people every day improve their health, it’s the one deficiency, I see most often. We have learned to use sugary soda, energy drinks and sugary snacks as a crutch for a quick boost of energy, at the expense of proper hydration and nutrition.
Of course, I love the occasional binge of barbecue ribs or lasagna! It only become a problem if this is your diet every day, even more so if you are the king or queen of seconds. Measure your portions until you are 100% sure what a portion is. No excuses.
These three core goals will not always be in perfect alignment. One day you may eat well, sleep poorly but walk 15,000 steps. Be kind to yourself and look at how you are progressing over time. It’s about the progress, not each individual day. Don’t micro-manage every tiny detail or you will fail at becoming a healthier you. Love yourself on your journey, run your own race. Focus on feeling good, being strong, creating inner happiness and living the life you deserve!
These are my older blog posts, which originally appeared in my Exposure Magazine Column, "Healthy Living."