This post brought to you by American Heart Association. The content and opinions expressed below are that of Kara Carrero.
I sat down in my Boston home some time back in December, and started scrolling through Facebook. “On this day” popped up and I was suddenly was reminded of the chaos the previous year had brought. We lost my grandad, had a pet run away, and I gave birth to a daughter all in the short span of 4 days. Feeling the weight of the previous years, I unraveled. Life is short. It’s unpredictable. And it’s oh so precious. The crazy whirlwind started in May 2014 when my husband and I got a phone call at 3am that my husband’s father was unexpectedly in ICU and the prognosis was poor. Though he won a golf tournament the week before, sat with his friends that night, and was a happy and healthy man, he was taken from us in a flash.
They say that it could have been partially due to stress from his younger years, even 40 years prior.
Then in December 2014, my grandad passed. He spent decades battling cancers and the last 8 years of his life fighting the uphill battle of congestive heart failure and other various ailments.
He had a history of health problems, regularly ate less than ideal choices & didn’t take care of himself probably as he should have.
And then there’s me.
I’m a tired, over-worked, stressed-out mom.
Moving across the country, our food choices declined as we stayed in a hotel for 8 weeks. That on top of being in the newborn phase with my daughter, I started living a much more sedentary lifestyle.
And to be really honest, I let my health slip as a mom because I focused on my kids and not myself for three years.
So in the moment that I was scrolling through Facebook memories I vowed to myself to not just be a memory.
I could make real change in my life today not only for myself but for my children. So I started brainstorming ways that our family could live healthier, how I could take back control of my wellbeing both physically and emotionally, and I started setting goals.
My legacy and my girls are why. Life Is Why.
7 EASY Ways to take charge of family health in your home
Get rid of sugar in our house.
So I know, I said easy and cutting sugar is not for the faint of heart. But this is the most drastic change I made for myself, my husband, and my kids. I decided we would do Whole30 as a family and ease into it over 6 weeks. I wanted to slow and steady train our bodies to not crave foods that were bad for us and train our taste buds to love veggies even more!
After we finished, my husband even mentioned that foods he loved before seemed so one-dimensional now. Plus we all slept better, had mental clarity, and fit better into our clothes.
Stop making excuses for not exercising and ditch the traditional notions of exercise.
I used to love running. And when we think of exercise, isn’t that what most of us envision? That or going to the gym, lifting weights or doing something hardcore and awesome?
So I thought “I don’t have time to exercise. And it’s too hard with kids!” But some inspiration from the Moms Unite Facebook Group and a shift in attitude and now we’re up and moving.
Because let me tell you, my kids love exercising with me. Even if it’s just for 5 minutes, I can feel a difference in my energy level on those days. And I will be the first to argue that the ingenuity of using your own child as a kettle bell weight instead of a hunk of metal is way more hardcore.
In the long run I have found that not only do my kids enjoy it, but they crave it, they imitate it, and they start lasting longer too which means I gradually get in more of a workout.
And they’re watching. Give up the idea of a perfect body and work towards sustainable health.
I based my idea of health on the outward number on a scale and number on the tag of my jeans. But the reality is, the true measure of our health is by what we’re eating. When we’re loading up on fruits and veggies, choosing whole foods over fast foods, and not giving into eating our emotions, we’re better off for our families and ourselves.
Change the way I shop for groceries.
I set out to prioritize my money differently. Instead of seeing a grocery store as point A to point B, I saw it as concentric circles.
I would write out the healthiest, most important items first on my list and go through to gather those items, then fill in after that. So I walk around the grocery store getting all of the vegetables, nuts, eggs, and plant proteins first and fill in with meat. Then I add in fruits, fruit juices, milk, and oils. And finally if there’s any room left in the budget I fill in my wants and needs. It’s actually the simplest change I made and it has made the most profound impact on our family’s long term health.
Stop putting off important check-ups.
I sat in tears writing about my fear of getting check-ups because I knew I wasn’t taking care of myself.
And I vowed I would stop. That if I couldn’t take care of myself then I was no good to my husband or my kids. And heaven knows they need me to have clean clothes. So I scheduled appointments. I worked through ways of making things happen instead of making excuses.
Find easier ways to make more home-cooked meals.
Even if it’s investing in an instant pot or learning to maximize your slow cooker efforts, there are ways to save family dinner time without calling in take-out. You can find plenty of healthy meal inspirations on the American Heart Association Pinterest profile. And just to be clear, there are hands-off ways to cook most things, including whole roasted cauliflower. And that’s pretty healthy.
Stop stressing over the small things and take care of yourself.