Moms 1st: Prioritizing Your Health
by Dr. Trevor Holly Cates
As moms we spend much of our time taking care of our families, making sure the kids are well fed, dressed, and off to school with their homework complete. We are constant shepherds, cheerleaders and support for our families, but sometimes forget to make time for ourselves. As the flight attendants remind us each time we fly "in case of an emergency landing, first put on your mask before assisting your child." Similarly in our family life we must put ourselves first sometimes.
It is essential that you set aside the time to meet your needs so you can be a healthy and happy mom. You may be thinking, "This plan sounds great in theory, but how do I find the time?" The answer is simple: make time. Just as you find the time to fit in all those after school activities for your kids, find time for yourself in the schedule.
Your first task is to recognize the value in maintaining balance and choosing a healthy lifestyle. To have a healthier life today and in the future, it is essential to eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly and manage stress. If these changes seem like a lot to wrestle all at once, start simple. For example, focus on finding time to walk for 60 minutes 3 days per week or 30 minutes 6 days per week. Or, begin your road to health with a commitment to eating at least 1 salad every day or 6 servings of fruits and vegetables. At the very least, you can start by taking 15 minutes of every day to sit, close your eyes and enjoy some deep breaths, knowing that your To Do list can wait 15 minutes.
Tips for helping you achieve balance and a healthy lifestyle:
- Recognize that good health is a lifelong goal. The choices we make today will lead us to a healthier future. Start with healthier choices and gradually incorporate long-term changes.
- Studies indicate that it takes about 45 days to form a new habit. That means you have to practice new lifestyle changes (diet, exercise and stress management) for at least 45 days before they start to stick.
- Make a commitment to yourself – try writing a contract that specifies your commitment to your goals. Clearly define your short-term (daily or weekly) and long-term (for the month or year) goals. Don’t forget to reward yourself for each milestone so you’ll have incentives for sticking to your goals.
- Keep a journal to help you stay on track and measure your progress. Include your short-term and long-term goals and your daily successes and challenges. Be sure you keep it positive and not dwell on setbacks.
- Visualize yourself achieving your goals. This mental image will help you follow through with the behavior you visualize.
With all the challenges of parenting, we sometimes lose a sense of ourselves, our goals, and choices that help keep us healthy. Don't wait until you're too exhausted to participate in your family's day-to-day activities. Start now. What are you going to do today to take care of YOU?
Dr. Trevor Holly Cates is the Naturopathic Physician and Nutrition and Wellness Coordinator at Golden Door Spa at Waldorf Astoria Park City. She is a primary care physician specializing in an integrative, holistic approach to medicine. Dr. Cates received her naturopathic medical degree from the National College of Natural Medicine in 2000. In addition to private practice in Park City, Dr. Cates was twice appointed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to California’s Bureau of Naturopathic Medicine Advisory Council and serves on the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians board of directors. She is a frequent lecturer and writes articles on natural medicine for various local and national publications.
Golden Door, Waldorf Astoria Park City