Last year as I started to come out of the baby fog and coma I had been in for six years, I set out some heart healthy goals for myself. I’m partnering with Henry Ford Health System for this post. Becoming a family of five in 2017 was mentally and physically exhausting for me…and I hadn’t really slept, ever, since becoming a mom in 2012. So I declared 2018 “the year of me.” So….you’re probably wondering…..how did I do?
Well. I give myself a solid B. That’s pretty good for a busy mom of three, I think! It’s hard to take care of yourself when you are busy taking care of everyone else. But I did start to make some small changes in my life that now, a year later, have become things I just do without thinking. So in 2019 I’m pushing myself, making myself a priority, and doing everything I can to continue to take care of my physical and mental health so that I am strong and capable of giving my best to my family.
Here are six simple changes I’ve made to help make my health a priority:
1. Exercise. It’s always been drilled into my head to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity per day….but as a mom, setting aside 30 whole minutes sometimes seems daunting. Especially for me since I also work from home. I usually use the hour before my kids get up as well as after they go to bed to get work stuff done….so when do I work out? A common misconception is that exercise needs to be done in 30 minute sessions, but really studies show that doing multiple, short exercises have similar benefits! So on evenings when I can get out and walk Wrigley for 30 minutes, that’s great. But it’s okay if some days I play soccer with Hudson for 20 minutes, then have a dance party with the kids for 15 minutes, then speed clean and vacuum for 20 minutes, then run up and down the stairs trying to find everyone’s church clothes for another 5 minutes. All those minutes of physical activity count and they all add up!
2. Have “me time”. I know this one is hard. And when you are in a season of little babies and toddlers demanding your time and energy, it seems nearly impossible to make time for yourself. I’ve been there. That was me the last six years! But I am so happy to report that it does get better and easier to make time for yourself. I get up early before my kids to work and have time alone. It’s so peaceful and is my favorite part of the day. I also have someone watch my kids one morning a week so I can do whatever needs to be done that’s easier without kids (aka, all the things!). It’s been so helpful for my well-being to put myself first from time to time. If I am not able to have my morning me time, I try and set aside time in the evening to go for a walk or read a book. Just do something that is just for me.
3. Wear a smart watch. This one little change has made a big difference in my life! I have my watch set to remind me to get up and walk around if I’ve been sitting too long (and it’s kind of funny, I’m up and about so much as a mom that it only ever reminds me when I’m on a long car drive or sitting at church, ha!). It also reminds me to take a deep breath if I’m feeling stressed and it counts my steps and the total distance I’ve walked every day. My goal for every day is between 10,000 and 15,000 steps…and some days I can get in at least 8,000 without ever leaving my house or “working out” #momlife
4. Get enough sleep. If you are mom you’re probably thinking, yeah right. Ha! This one is HARD. But last year all three of my kids started sleeping through the night. It took me SIX years of motherhood to get to this point….and it was a GAME CHANGER. Now that my kids aren’t waking me up at night I am able to get a more restful sleep and I can wake up earlier because I am not exhausted every morning. We also changed up our bedtime routine so it takes a little less time, which means I can get to bed earlier too. It’s been so wonderful! So if you are in the thick of it, I see you! I know it’s hard! But I promise you it will get better!
5. Be mindful of my emotions. Motherhood is a crazy journey and can be stressful, overwhelming, and cause a lot of anxiety. This past year I have been focusing on trying to take deep breaths when I feel overwhelmed, take a quick break when I need it, and make an effort to put my emotions in check. When I am less stressed, I am a happier mom, and it has made a big difference in how I feel and how I manage the normal day to day stress and anxiety. My stress directly impacts my kids’ stress….and I NEVER want to be the reason for any of their anxiety. So me staying calm is so important!
6. Eat better. It’s simple. In our house it means less sugar and processed foods and more real foods. And a ton of water. I’ve been focusing on getting more fruits and vegetables into our diet. I’ve found that cutting up fruit and veggies for snacking as soon as we buy them has made choosing a healthy snack much easier and quicker. I’ve also been tossing a lean protein like chicken on top of a yummy salad for an easy and delicious lunch. For dinners I love to roast veggies and chicken….and who knew it was so tasty and so easy? (I like to season chopped veggies and cut up chicken breasts with salt, pepper, and olive oil. Then roast at 500 degrees for 15-20 minutes!)
Making these small lifestyle changes has made me feel so much better mentally and physically. Knowing my risk for heart disease has also been so helpful for me. I know that heart disease is the leading cause of death for women, so keeping my heart healthy and making healthy choices is something that is very important to me. Henry Ford Health System LiveWell Blog is a great resource for learning more about your own health. Henry Ford offers an easy, interactive online tool to assess your heart health called the Heart Health Risk Assessment.
I’m proud of my body and what it has done for me. Last year I took the assessment and found out that I am at a low risk for heart disease. My uncle died from heart disease so it is something I always have in the back of my mind. The Henry Ford Heart Health Risk Assessment only takes a few minutes to complete and also tells you your heart’s age….isn’t that cool? I love that such a simple tool can help you learn so much about your health! Take a few minutes to take the assessment…I promise you’ll get a lot of helpful insight into your health! The sooner you know your risk of heart disease, the better chance you have to keep your heart healthy and strong.
Taking care of your heart is so important to being happy and healthy. As a world leader in heart health, Henry Ford Heart & Vascular Institute specializes in advanced treatments for heart and vascular disease. They offer a wide variety of resources for keeping your heart healthy and believe that heart care should be one of a kind, not one size fits all. Be sure to check out their website for some great resources and click here to find a doctor near you.
This post was sponsored by Henry Ford Health System. All thoughts and opinions are my own.