We start as early as 5 a.m. and don't stop until backpacks are packed, legos are picked up, and the dishwasher is humming. If you are a working mom, then you know that a big part of your day is not just creating stunning portfolios for your clients or planning another event to showcase your company. No, a bigger part of your day is scrambling to put together food to be considered a meal that is not a repeat of last night's dinner, getting to soccer practice with both shin guards, and those last minute emergency runs to Target for the gift you forgot about.
It's almost as if work is a respite, a safe place away from the chaotic mess at home. Almost -- but not quite because of the emails and meetings that seem to keep being added to the schedule and the projected timeline that seems unattainable.
Ask me to get up early to exercise and I might look at you as if you suddenly started speaking another language. Of course it would be easy to wake up earlier if we slept through the night, right? Working moms have to share their life with not just their family, but their career. A career outside of the home means more time to give and less time to spend on the things that allow us to be healthier. Regardless of why we work, whether if its' for the additional income or the professional career that is important to maintain, a healthy lifestyle is still foundational to being effective in our responsibilities. Healthy living doesn't have to be another check list on the bottom of the to-do list but rather can be a mindset we adopt as we continue with our responsibilities. There are ways that we can be healthy as a working mom -- we just need to do things a little different.
Here are three habits that every working mom can be adopt to become healthier:
1. Use exercise as a means to be healthy, not as a punishment for bad behavior. There isn't any faster way to hate exercising than to use it as punishment. We are guilty of this behavior all the time, even in the littlest ways. Maybe you ate dessert at the office meeting and snagged a piece of candy off of a desk as you passed by. And as you took that last bite, you thought to yourself, "It's okay, I'll just hop on the treadmill tonight" or "I walked today at lunch." Or even worse -- using exercise as punishment for how you look or fit into your jeans.
Exercise can be the stress reducer in your life and it can be the way that you learn more about who you are and what you are made of. If we use it as a form of punishment then the only result is not losing weight but forming a habit of behavior that tells our mind that exercise is a negative behavior that is only effective for losing weight. The best thing about exercise is that losing weight is just the tip of the iceberg.
Action: Choose to exercise today because it's healthy and will allow you to be happier, less stressed, and live longer. The next time you think of it as punishment, reframe that thought into a positive statement.
2. Acknowledge out loud that you are healthy.
Sure, this might come after binging on goldfish crackers or ice cream in the deep abyss of your freezer, but before this awful binge, you added a bowl of green beans to tonight's dinner. Or maybe you drank a glass of water instead of soda. Every healthy decision that you make counts and it moves you forward in becoming a healthier person.
Affirmations are like exercises for our mind and outlook; these positive mental repetitions can reprogram our thinking patterns so that, over time, we begin to think, and act, in a new way. -- Caroline Smith, MindTools
Every time you say your healthy declaration out loud, your brain creates new pathways for thinking which in turn, allows habits to form. We all want to be healthier. No one ever wants nor says the opposite; we just need to actually verbalize it out loud so that we can make our behaviors line up with our thoughts.
Action: The next time you make a healthy decision, acknowledge it out loud.
3. Find something that you love to do. And do it.
I love encouraging women to be healthier. It comes out in just about every conversation I have, regardless of how the conversation started because healthy living has infinite ways of appearing. I have found something I love to do. For you, it may look different. It may be going for a weekend hike or maybe packing your lunch to take with you. It could be going to your favorite Jazzercise class or staying home with a glass of wine. Regardless, every choice you make to be healthy is important.
No work is too small to play a part in the work of creation. -- Barbara Brown Taylor
Our work of choosing healthy behavior combines together to form a creation of life and wellness. There isn't a choice too small to add to this creation of the healthy life we want for ourselves and our family.
As a working mom it is so easy to get caught up into what we have to do. Most of the time we are in survival mode and we forget about ourselves and what we need. We forget that we are designed to live life with a purpose -- a deep fulfilling purpose. You may feel as if your purpose is being a mom, and that drives you in every action that you take. For me, and for millions of other working moms, I know that I can and want to work. It's not another responsibility to tackle, it's a purpose in which I am searching for. And I find my purpose at every intersection of what I am good at and what I enjoy doing. To stay healthy in the midst of our over-scheduled lives is to make the healthy choices as live life, not as it's another responsibility.
Action: Write down three things that you love doing, something that you are good at. If you aren't sure what you are good at. Start with what you enjoy doing. And go and enjoy doing those things.