Monday, April 29, 2013

Mom's Motivation

Sometimes motivation hits when you don’t expect it.

I’ve been working hard to get healthier. It hasn’t been an easy transition, and by no means have I been perfect. I managed to lose about 20 pounds and then hit a plateau. My motivation started waning—as hard as I’ve been working, why haven’t I seen more progress? Why? It’s enough to make you say “Forget it! Pass the cheese fries!”

Then I did one of the employee wellness checks my employer offers.

Turns out that all this hard work is making a difference. By exercise and diet alone (no meds), I managed to lower my cholesterol by 26 points from August 2012 to February 2013. My HDL (the good cholesterol) went up by 5 points. I lowered my LDL (the bad cholesterol) 14 points. And my triglyceride level (the common fat in our bodies) went down 84 points.

I didn’t really think anything of it until I showed my physician the updated numbers. She pointed out what a big deal it was to lower my cholesterol by that much, especially without meds. I still have some work to do, but the decrease in numbers was proof that it was doable.

What’s funny is that when I received the initial set of numbers in August 2012, I wasn’t surprised. I had a general feeling of where I was. Each year the number had gotten a little higher. But the words “pre-diabetic” did it. I WAS NOT GOING IN THAT DIRECTION. Things had to change.

So, I took a hard look at what I was doing:
  • First, the eating habits had to change. I found something that generally works for me and still allows me to live a normal life. I still have my occasional wings, cheese fries and other unhealthy foods, but I don’t indulge every day. I plan meals and stopped going out to eat for every lunch and dinner.
  • Second, I got the kids on board. I asked them to please be willing to try new foods because Mommy was trying to get healthier. They would try something, not like it and say “But I will eat a little because it’s healthy for you.” (Kids’ refusal to eat certain foods can derail a well-intended diet.)
  • Third, I got back to spin class. I changed my schedule so that I would still get enough sleep and make it to an early class.
  • Fourth, I cut back on some of my obligations. I said no to requests I would have normally said yes to. I gave up some activities that were adding more stress than helping me relax.
  • Fifth, I started listening to some motivational CDs on my way to work. As corny as it may sound, you start hearing your selected guru’s voice in your head when you want to sleep in a little longer and skip a workout or want to choose the chips over the fruit.

I share my story because it’s common knowledge that Moms don’t always put themselves first. But if we don’t, and something happens to us, we have done no one any favors. Lifestyle changes, and that’s what these are—permanent, lifestyle changes, require the knowledge that they can be done. And trust me, if I can do it, so can you.

What lifestyle changes have your incorporated in your life? Where do you find your motivation?

Reace Alvarenga-Smith is a Mom of two in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

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