In 2012, two life-changing events happened to me. I gave birth to my third child and I was granted an extended maternity leave. While my beautiful baby completed our family of five, that golden time off from work marked the inception of healthier habits in my life.
Before that, I had never gone to a gym. Actually, I never really paid much attention to what I ate. I didn’t eat at McDonald’s everyday, but I wasn’t sitting down to home-cooked meals every night either. I was a doctor in training. I ate what I could, when I could. I remember thinking, “If I don’t make good use of this time now, I won’t get another uninterrupted opportunity to tackle my bucket list.” So I chose two – I decided to lose weight and cook healthier meals.
It was going to be hard. I knew it… making two huge changes to my daily routine at once. But I had the time, I had the motivation, and I set small goals. I began going to the gym and cooking a healthy new recipe twice a week. Within a few weeks, I lost 5 pounds! This inspired me to stay on track. I even got a trainer, mainly to hold me accountable – I would never miss a session if I already paid for it! And I cooked a variety of meals – some were flops, but many were delicious!
Slowly, exercise became a routine and healthy dinners became the norm. Fast forward to today, those positive ventures have transformed into daily habits. It wasn’t until Mother’s Day this past Sunday that I realized how much my choices are impacting my children.
My kids (ages 3, 5, 6) were ecstatic to share their Mother’s Day gifts with me – stories about Mommy. As I read each project, I was shocked… literally mouth agape. I couldn’t believe what I was reading. Each and every one of them listed healthy foods that I eat, and my oldest child said he loves me “because she takes me to the gym.” I’m not making this up! See for yourself:
These gifts were rewarding on such a grand level. It was the ultimate validation that healthy habits I have worked hard to instill are influencing them! Just last week, my 6-year-old told me that he and 3 friends are having a contest to see who can eat the healthiest at school. At lunch, they choose carrots and vegetables instead of chips and drink milk, not juice. WHAT? A first-grader is making these decisions on his own? I was beaming. These are habits that will be with him for life.
Changes don’t have to be big. In fact, I prefer them small. It makes them sustainable.
Here are 5 ideas for simple changes you can incorporate to make tomorrow healthier than today.
- Drink a tall glass of water when you wake up.
- Choose an apple instead of chips with your lunch.
- Instead of dessert, have a bowl of berries.
- Turn out the lights and close your eyes 20 minutes earlier tonight.
- Walk at a fast pace for 5 minutes.
These might not sound like a lot. But if you do them everyday, they add up. You will walk a full 35 minutes and get over 2 hours more sleep than last week.
What is one small change you can consistently make to live a little healthier than yesterday? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.