My grandmother died of breast cancer. She passed away before she even turned 50 and the same year my dad graduated high school.
When they found the mass, it was the size of a walnut when even today the size of a pea is critical.
The story goes that she knew.
She knew something was wrong, but she didn’t do anything until it was too late.
And I think of the long line of health concerns that have plagued family members I know. From cancer and diabetes to osteoporosis and Parkinsons. It breaks my heart. And I do everything I possibly can to keep my kids healthy, to give them the best start at life, to raise them with healthy habits from the beginning.
And yet I can’t take care of myself.
There are days I worry about where my health will be in 14 years when my daughter is the same age as my dad when his mom passed away. And it’s not that I don’t have peace in the life that I live or even peace in knowing where I will go when I die.
Excuses pile up as to why I haven’t worked out in a year. Everything from having a baby to moving across country. Maybe they’re valid, maybe they’re not. Either way, my love of running turned into a love of eating and my drive to stay fit turned into a drive to pour into my business.
And in the never-ending saga it was to try to find solutions for the worst pregnancy nausea, someone mentioned Mexican Coca-Cola and I somehow found myself addicted to sugar even though I have fought long and hard to stay away.
It’s been 3 years since I have seen a primary care provider, 3 years since I have been to a dentist, and not so coincidentally, 3 years since my oldest was born.
You can shake your head and your finger at me all you want.
But it doesn’t change anything. And, in reality, I fear that there are more moms like me not taking care of themselves because it’s inconvenient, scary, or time-consuming.
Many times I didn’t go in for a physical, a check-up, or a cleaning because it was a burden with kids in tow. Where would my daughter go? Heaven knows I didn’t have a community that rallied around me to pitch in though I was desperately searching for my “village” to help raise my kids.
And then there are those lingering feelings I have now.
The one telling me I should go see a dermatologist for a screening. But then fear sets in. Maybe it the same fear I am sure my grandmother felt. And really, it’s probably nothing. Nothing at all.
But maybe it’s the fear that like last time when I rushed into the dermatologist for a spot on my shoulder that was a little too red and a little too itchy for me to be comfortable with that I came out with an unexpected two-inch scar.
All of this long-winded personal story to say… please, please, mom. Take care of yourself.
How to take care of yourself as a mom even when it’s difficult or inconvenient
Get out and get moving.
Take your podcast with you. Load your kids into a stroller. Buy a voice recorder if it’s a way to help you get work done while walking. Find ways to stand and to move daily.
Don’t let worries fester.
If there’s a health concern you have, find a doctor.
Trust me, one of the reasons I haven’t gone to someone in Boston is because I hate the process of finding someone I like. It’s hard enough with the kids. But I have been in the process of making appointments after carefully researching providers.
And there’s always an option despite your views on medical care. Go to a naturopath, a holistic dentist/dermatologist, or a regular PCP.
Work through bad food habits.
Whether it’s an addiction or not, there are foods we all get stuck eating that aren’t necessarily the best for us. So up your protein to curb sugar cravings, chug water to curb the desire to continually eat, and focus on other outlets to relieve stress or find pleasure, since many times food can be used to fill those voids.
There is a reason certain food grow during certain seasons. Our bodies need the nutrients those plants provide.
While it’s not a cure-all, eating seasonally fresh produce has helped our family stay healthier. Maybe it’s because it’s just more fresh food. Maybe because it’s exactly what my body needed. Regardless, it’s important for your body to have fresh foods that are nutrient rich.
Confide in a friend.
Not only is this important because mental health is a key part of your overall well-being, but also having someone who can keep you accountable, keep you on track, and keep you motivated is an invaluable resource.
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