Tuesday, January 30, 2018

5 Easy and Practical Health Tips for Busy Moms

So, it's then end of January.

That means most of us have quit our new year's resolutions by now.  Because they were probably ridiculously lofty goals like lose thirty pounds in two seconds, attend hot yoga three times a week, or never eat carbs again.

As a busy mom of four, a breast cancer survivor, and a type 1 diabetic (got all that?), I KNOW that health is important, but I don't have TIME to do much about it.  (Meaning time to make an incredible health plan AND follow it through.)  Plus, doesn't being healthy seem so darn complicated these days?  Every week, there's a new fitness fad, innovative diet, supplement suggestion, and magical must-eat food.   

Frankly, it's exhausting and defeating to try to keep up.   

But there are some basic health things that never change.  And they really aren't that complicated, expensive, or difficult.   I promise.   

So from me to you, here are five easy health steps you can take as a busy mom: 

1:  Drink a smoothie a day.

I love smoothies because they are:  healthy, inexpensive, energizing, hydrating, and easy.  For the on-the-go lady, it's nice to to create an on-the-go breakfast or snack.  I pour mine into a cup, add a straw, hop into my minivan, and go about my day.  Smoothies keep your digestion regular, too.  

Now there are no fewer than 1,000,000 smoothie recipes out there, but it's really NOT complicated. First, I make mine in a generic Magic Bullet (yep, it's true!).   My smoothies are pretty basic, too.  I use one scoop of protein powder (I prefer this one, approved by my integrative cancer treatment center's dietitian), water or green tea (cooled), frozen fruit of my choosing (usually berries, because they're low on the glycemic index, but sometimes I'll use mango or kiwi), and spinach leaves (they have NO taste in smoothies but are so healthy!  I usually add a tablespoon of ground flaxseed (as part of my anti-cancer diet).  I choose to go all-organic with my ingredients.  That's it!   

Just experiment.  Some people like a peanut butter and banana smoothie.  You can blend this with your favorite milk and some cinnamon.   Some prefer a fruity smoothie (like I do).  Others even go for a coffee-based smoothie (though it's not as nutrient dense without the fruits and veggies added). (I drink my smoothie and a cup of coffee every morning.)  I recommend making your own, as the smoothies sold via a drive-thru tend to be FULL of sugar and calories that aren't at all healthy.   

2:  Make your checkup appointments, and then SHOW UP.

It's early in the year.  The calendar is WIDE open.  Make your yearly appointments now.  That means your gynecologist, your dentist, your eye doctor, and any specialists you see (a skin check by a dermatologist is a good idea!).  You might even pick a single day or two days and do all of your appointments in that time period.   And please, don't cancel the appointments!   Remember my story?  Because of my persistence and the timing of my appointments, I caught my breast cancer early. Don't procrastinate, because you'll convince yourself later in the year that you are "too busy" for your health.

3:  Choose exercise you like.

A lot of my mom friends are runners.  Let me be clear:  I HATE RUNNING.  (You know this if you read my latest book.  I go on a RANT about it like a toddler.  You're welcome.)  But I love outdoor walks (not power walking either: bleck).   Light weight lifting.  And I play dance games on my kids XBOX.   These all count.

What gives you energy?  Clears your mind?  Lifts your spirit?  That's what you need to be doing.  Don't worry about what's trendy!  Exercise doesn't have to be misery-inducing or expensive. Nor is there a magical length of time to exercise.  If you get in fifteen minutes, consider that a win for the day!   

Benefits of exercise include:  strength and endurance building, confidence boosting, anxiety reducing, sleep improving, mood balancing.  And of course, if you're not working out and then pigging out (or have an underlying medical issue), exercise helps you maintain or lose weight.   When I work out, my personal goal is to feel stronger and healthier, to have more stamina for my day-to-day activities, and to reduce my anxiety.  I'm a scale-snob, honestly, and rarely ever weigh myself.  

4:  Get some fresh air.  

Many Americans are vitamin D deficient which is NOT good considering vitamin D is vital to good health!  Get outside and get some sun exposure.  And when you're at your yearly check up with your gynecologist or GP, ask for your vitamin D level to be checked.  You may need a supplement. (Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin:  because of this, I prefer this supplement as a two-in-one.) But back to fresh air:  it does WONDERS.   I know, some places it's REALLY cold right now.  But bundle up and walk to your mailbox.  Take some deep breaths.   Fresh air gives you energy and mental clarity.   

5: Address mental health concerns.

So many of my mom friends are struggling with anxiety, and too many of them try to push through it instead of addressing it.  Treat your mental health just as you would your physical health.   I've been quite vocal on my struggle with anxiety, but how sharing my story has helped others (including one of my own children who also has anxiety).   Gynecologists and general practitioners may not be mental health professionals, but they are great starting points for seeking resources for further treatment options.   Don't continue to struggle in silence.   Reach out for help and consider the options you have to take control and feel better.    Dear one, being a mom is HARD.  Adopting is HARD.  Even thinking about adopting is HARD.   It's OK to admit that and confront it, head on!  

Finally, just know that there are NO MAGIC FIXES for health.  Don't buy expensive products that promise amazing results, subscribe to the "perfect" diet, decide you're going to go from "tired mom" (that's me) to fitness champion in three weeks with the help of some supplement your girlfriend has tried.   Healthy living for the long-haul should be reality-based.

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