Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Every single mom needs one... (part 3)

A good health regimen.

Susan over at One Woman Show asked me recently what I did to stay healthy and have lots of energy.

She knows that I am a stickler for natural medicine and exercise. And we all know that single parents don't always get the sleep we need.

Let's start with what we put into our bodies. My advice? Two words....


Let's face it. We don't always get the chance to sit down to a good healthy meal. I try to get good stuff in my body anyway through high quality vitamins.

There are tons of synthetic vitamins on the market but none will work as well as any made from whole food concentrates. What this means is that they are actually made from food so your body ingests and processes them as such. I noticed a difference when I switched to whole food vitamins and I LOVE them.

I take fish oils and a calcium/magnesium supplement as well. I am very particular and take high quality brands of both. I try to get a good balance of Omega 3 and Omega 6 with cod liver oil and flaxseed oil. Here's a quick reference.

I make smoothies at least 3 times per week (a fabulous time saver) and add lots of other great things such as echinacea (10 days on, 10 days off), carrots, fruit, vitamin c, protein powder, flaxseed oil, honey, and other things that help muscles after working out. I also add juices like pomegranate, acai berry, and aloe vera to my smoothies. Or there are juice concentrates in capsule form that you can buy at the natural foods store too.

I try to watch my budget but I don't skimp on vitamins for me or my girls. I shop at a natural health foods store for all my vitamins.

Every one is different so its best to know your body well. I am very aware of certain foods and how my body reacts to them. I can't do caffeine or I will get a headache. I don't do well with too much sugar in my diet so I try to have small portions of it. I drink LOTS of water during the day and I avoid sodas. I try to buy organic when I can. To buy healthy and stretch your dollars, here is a list of fruits that you don't have to buy organic and those that you should. I try to buy meat from our local butcher rather than the grocery store. I prefer higher quality meat (what little meat that we eat) so our bodies are getting the good stuff.

I am also an avid label reader at the grocery store. As stated above, the closer the food is to its natural state or the closer to whole it is, the better your body will process it. I stay away from high fructose corn syrups and trans fats. I shop the perimeter of the grocery stores where the food is less likely to be heavily processed. I could write an entire post about this alone. If you have any more questions about this, email me.


I think everyone should do yoga. But then again, just as with food, every body responds to certain exercise differently too.

I used to run 3 miles and lift weights for 1 1/2 - 2 hours 5 days a week and I was 40 lbs. heavier than I am now. I couldn't lose the weight for anything. It was when I was gentler on my body with yoga that the weight just began slipping away. I'm fortunate that there's a yoga studio walking distance from my office. I take a yoga class 2-3 times a week during my lunch breaks. Yoga videos are also very helpful.

After watching my soldier in a triathlon before his deployment and then cheering him on in the NYC Marathon, I realized that I should add more cardio into my workout routines. I actually bought myself a bike for my birthday last December and began training. In May, I completed my first major ride, 160 miles, and whew! After that, I was pretty much an expert cyclist. Again, I could devote an entire blog to cycling. I am amazed at how many calories you can burn while feeling like you're 12 years old again!

I have my girls most of the time so I invested in a bike trainer. My bike actually sits next to my bed and I watch TV while riding. It allowed me to get used to the bike seat and I still get a good workout without leaving the house. I usually get on the trainer after the kids go to bed, again about 2-3 times per week. When I have my weekend free, I try to get in a good ride with a cycling group (available usually through a local bike shop) of at least 20-30 miles. Or I will take a 20 mile route that I have mapped out around my town.

I have now added running back into my routine and hope to add swimming within the next 6 months or so. I try to run when the ex has the kids during the week and on the weekends I have free. I have a treadmill in storage and I'm considering putting it in the garage so that I can get in runs when the kids are in bed asleep. I'm still working out the logistics of when to squeeze in some swim time.

I also own a rebounder and try to bounce on it a couple of times per week as well. I learned that I had a sluggish lymphatic system (most Americans do) and that bouncing on a rebounder is really good for you. I love it. And so do my children. I keep it in the living room and they jump on it every day while telling me about school. I like knowing that its keeping them healthy too.

I am actually going to do my first triathlon next June. I was always that person who would say, "Good luck with that" when someone told me they would do a triathlon. I never thought I'd say I was going to do one. The funny thing is, I am constantly amazed at how the human body can be trained. I think yoga helped me to understand that better. I will be 39 in December and I'm more fit and healthy than I have ever been in my life. And I am constantly learning more ways to stay that way.

A BONUS: We may not always get the amount of sleep that we'd like but with the additional exercise, you will definitely get better quality sleep.


Much of how our body feels has more to do with our thoughts than anything else. I do what I can to stay positive. I also allow myself to feel less than positive if I have to. We have to be gentle with ourselves. Just as I had to learn to be gentle on my body with yoga, I have to gentle with myself emotionally as well. Yoga helps me do that. I would also add the support of friends or therapy, faith, writing, meditation and complementary therapies like homeopathy, chiropractic and acupuncture too.

Yeah, ok, vodka helps too! *giggle*

In moderation, my friends. Everything is OK in moderation.

If we can be more pro-active, we will be healthier, stronger and better parents for our children. Think of how you'll inspire them to have their own good health regimen!! Its easy to use the lack-of-time excuse but I'm telling you, if you want to do it, you will make the time for it.

I think a healthy sex life would help too. I'm hoping to add that to my good health regimen real soon!

Chime in: What do you do to stay healthy and keep up with the kids? How do you squeeze in exercise?


  1. Exactly!! There is nothing else really to add. Exercise, eating the best foods possible, attitude, outlook, friends definitely add to the mix... if you are happy on the inside though, it shows through!

    You have to make the time to make it happen though - and it has to be time you feel good about taking because this is "you" time. Time to help you be a better and more rounded person!

    For me - I need to be in nature. I need to hear the birds and feel the weather and remember that we are all interconnected and that I am just a tiny piece of a very big picture. Perspective I guess.

    Great post

  2. VERY cool post!

    I am not healthy enough! I know it and we are trying to work on it!

    My mom and I have just gone organic and we try stay away from processed stuff and take outs!

    I excercise at least 3-5 times a week - I go after work before fetching the kids and on the weekend!!

    Its hard making it all balance though!

  3. T, I couldn't agree with you more. I go to a Naturopath/MD that I have to travel about an hour to go and see because I love how she focuses on the Whole Me as opposed to the mere treatment of symptoms. One big thing we've started has been drinking warm salt water, to assist with my adrenal stress. My children even crave it...it's like saline you'd get in a hospital, you get the sea salt your body needs without the junk that salt usually accompanies.

    It costs money to eat well. That can be problematic. However, I notice much less food going to waste, if any, when we eat my awesome salads or have my heavily veggie-laden crock pot goodies than when we don't.

    And my kids, proudly, eat better than most adults ever eat.

    Special exercise time (gym) is hard to come by when there is no childcare at the gym. But we walk, we don't drive, to school--EVER--(yes, even in the rain--I'm from Oregon!), we ride bikes and play baseball. We're doing okay and I must be doing something right since none of us are battling weight or major health issues.

    Being aware is huge. Thank you for this post. I always wonder how, if a person can't take care of themselves, how on Earth can s/he take care of/raise others?

    Be well, T.

  4. T, just a quick update: I stopped in at an herbal and wellness center last night and stocked up on some nifty vitamins. I told them next time I come in I hopefully will be bounding in, not dragging as I was last night.

    Scheduling exercise is my biggest struggle. I know what you and the others are saying "you can find the time, you have to make time" -- but honestly I can't. I haven't been able to figure it out...at least not right now, considering finishing my manuscript, 90 minutes of commute time, the day job (which has become so busy I can't go out at lunch), being with the kids, etc. Honest to goodness I have tried to slice and dice my schedule a million different ways and can only come up with very short segments here and there. I know, I know - exercise during those segments! But truthfully, I kind of just want to eat dinner or sometimes just chill! I'm still working at it...I know I have to figure something out on that front, vitamins or not!

  5. T - right on! Diet and exercise. I find the biggest thing lacking in other people's diets are vegetables. Eat those green veggies daily!

    If you are upping your exercise regmen, make sure you get vitamin C. Even a half glass of cranberry or OJ in the morning will help. Better if you eat fresh blueberries.

    Susan - can you involve your kids in your exercise? Turn it into play. When my kids were tiny, I'd push them in a jogger stroller. When older, I'd kick the soccer ball around with them. Now they can go on runs and rides with me. My son and I cycled 25 miles this past weekend.

  6. Dadshouse - thanks for commenting on my comment. I need all the help and encouragement I can get!

    I should qualify my dramatic "I never exercise" comment with I do occasionally get out; I'm just really having a hard time fitting it in on a regular basis. It's very sporadic right now -- maybe that will change after I finish ploughing through my one specific writing project. Good advice about finding something to do with the kids. Last Friday night my son was with his dad, so my daughter (age 9) and I decided at the last minute to go for an evening walk. It was great for both of us! She even said something like, "Mom, that was fun. I like talking to you when we walk." Great motivation, so I'm going to keep at it.


Thank you for leaving me some comment love!