I learned to prioritize my health after a really tough mental health season. As a busy mom of 2, my health used to be the last thing I thought about. I would eat whatever I wanted (or whatever my kids left on their plates), never exercise, and as a life-long migraine sufferer, I’d spend at least a week every month laid up in bed unable to do anything. I felt awful. Add in a postpartum depression and anxiety diagnosis, my mental health was, for lack of a better term, crap.
Unfortunately, this is so common for moms and women in general because we tend to take on a lot and we can make ourselves our last priority. I learned how to change my lifestyle and prioritize my health because I had had enough. I realized that without feeling good, I couldn’t be the mom, wife, friend, business owner, or human I was trying so hard to be.
Here’s what I did that’s helped:
I was never a morning workout person. As much as I wanted to be, I’d get a migraine by noon no matter how hard my workout was. But exercising first thing in the morning is the only reason I even fit it into my day now. If I don’t do it then, I won’t do it later. I love it because I’m starting my day by taking care of me, instead of fulfilling my toddler’s every request. How did I get over the migraines? See number 2!
I never really understood what to do after a workout. Water? If I was thirsty. Protein? Sure, why not. It wasn’t until I started working with the right doctor that I learned that I needed to add electrolytes back into my body after I worked out to avoid dehydration, and therefore, a migraine. Now, the first thing I do after I sweat is add an electrolyte mix to a big bottle of water and I immediately feel more energized.
I’m a huge snacker, especially in the afternoon. I used to live by the rule that if there was anything chocolate in my house, I would eat it. What’s helped me to find more control is the knowledge that the foods I love aren’t going anywhere, so I’m able to save them for special events like family birthdays or nights out with friends. It just makes these times so much sweeter. (And don’t get me wrong, if I’m having a bad day, I’ll eat the dang chocolate. It just happens a lot less often now).
If Tiktok has given me anything, I’m thankful it’s brought nutritionists (my fave is @stephgrassodietitian) to my FYP. Eating balanced meals has helped me control my snacking significantly. With every meal, I eat a protein, carb, healthy fat, and as many veggies as I can find and I feel so full afterward without feeling overstuffed. And I no longer scrounge for cookies during the 2pm slump.
Getting time outside has been instrumental in learning to prioritize my health. This has gotten a lot easier now that it’s nice outside (thanks Pittsburgh!), but even just sitting in the sun for a few minutes improves my mood a ton.
Skincare has become like the bookends to my day. After my workout, I take a shower and do my morning skincare routine. My nighttime skincare is the last thing I do before bed. It’s my favorite part of the day and is so calming to me. And my skin has never been better, but I think mayyyybe number 7 has something to do with that!
I know, I know, you’ve heard this before. Thankfully, drinking water is now a habit for me. Here’s how I did it: Find an emotional support water bottle (my favorites are the Simple Modern tumblers with a straw) and carry it around everywhere. I aim to drink 100oz per day, so because my bottles hold 24oz, I made it a goal of finishing one by 9am, 12pm, 3pm, 6pm, and 9pm. Set alarms on your phone if you need to. Sometimes I’d be standing by my fridge chugging water at 3pm but I swear, eventually it became a habit and now I don’t even need to think about it.
This is the one that took me the longest to put into practice and it was with the help of my therapist that I realized how much I needed it. I now have time set aside each and every week where I go and do something by myself or with my sisters, friends, or my husband. With two small kids at home, this is not an easy feat but has been so huge in learning to prioritize my health and I encourage anyone who can to do this as much as they need to!
Ugh. This one has been a challenge. After the birth of my daughter I developed terrible insomnia and would spend 2-3 nights per week just never falling asleep. As soon as I cleaned up my eating, the insomnia solved itself. Now, I prioritize 7-8 hours of sleep per night and it’s amazing how much more steady my emotions are and how clearly I can think the next day.
Every single time I leave a doctor’s appointment, I schedule my next one even if it’s a year in advance. If I don’t do it then, calling the doctor and scheduling will fall to the end of my to-do list week after week and never get done. It’s so, so important to get the checks you need at the doctor every year so that things don’t go unnoticed. My kids’ pediatrician doesn’t open their scheduling until 3 months in advance so for that, I schedule a reminder on my phone and in my planner to call.
Since forming these habits, the most surprising thing to me in learning to prioritize my health has been how easy it is to stick with it. I feel really good, so I want to continue doing the things that keep me feeling this way. I weigh less now than I did when I started college (!) but even without the weight loss, it’s all been so worth it to make these changes.
Have questions? Was this helpful? I’d love to know your thoughts! You can find me over on Instagram @eringrossi or my business page @louandpine or www.louandpine.com! (Lou & Pine is a process improvement consulting company I founded for woman-owned businesses. You can read more about it here!)