Join UrbanMoms and some of our other members in the "sandwich generation" as we discuss keeping our hearts healthy in the "Life in the Sandwich" Blog Series. On March 23rd, add a new item to your heart health shopping list and visit your participating Loblaw banner store for a free Healthy Heart Check. It only takes 20 minutes of your time, but you will get a personalized picture of your key heart risk factors. Share your thoughts in the comments below for your chance to win some great prizes and learn some important information about heart health.
From the time I was 13 years-old or so I have spent a lot of time attempting to alter how I look. On and off I have tried to get fit, lose weight, find my own personal style, and regularly eat less. My reasons were many but at the core I was motivated by a desire to fit in. I wanted to be thin and fashionable and pretty because I thought this would help me to look more like everyone else. It was an external thing.
When I was pregnant I gained a lot of weight. I used pregnancy as an excuse to eat whatever I wanted and, basically let myself go. I loved being pregnant so much that I focused on becoming a mother and completely lost track of the fact that I was still myself. Not surprisingly, as soon as that baby was born I felt panicked by my appearance and managed to take the weight off after both of my pregnancies relatively quickly. However, that change was again motivated by a need to look good and a desire to fit in.
I could never figure out how friends of mine were able to stay so fit. How were they able to be so moderate and conscious in what they ate? I would gorge myself on chips and feel tremendously guilty and out of control. I could not figure out how people could eat just a few and walk away. I would panic about not being fit so I tried everything. About 5 years ago I started running. I trained very hard, lost 15lbs, and ran a bunch of 5km and 10km races. But my motivation was still "to look good". And I did. I got a lot of compliments and I definitely saw people's image of me shift. However, I rarely stuck to anything. Once the panic went away so did my motivation.
As I approach my 40th Birthday I have been doing a lot of self-reflection. I have been thinking about WHY I have spent nearly 30 years of my life trying to change what I look like and rarely being satisfied. Because, the truth is, I am me. I will always be 5'11". I will always have big, curly hair. I will never be an expert on fashion trends and make-up and the latest look. And now that I know this, now that I am the closest I have ever been to accepting myself for who I am, I have discovered the strangest thing; I totally missed the point.
Now I see that the people who are able to stick with a fitness regimen or eat moderately or keep up with the latest trends are motivated by something bigger - like maintaining a healthy heart and mind. Most of them, anyway, are not simply focused on the superficial desire to be cute, they are getting something else out of it and looking good is just a bonus.
Now when I run I do it as a gift to myself both in the moment and in the long-term. When I think about how many families I know who have been touched by heart disease and stroke, being physically fit becomes even more of a priority because it is one of the best ways to reduce my family's risk of these diseases. I run and walk and live an active life and eat well because it makes me feel good, from the inside out. It gives my body strength, my mind a break, and my future promise. It is an investment in a happy, healthy me that will pay off big time in the long-run. Plus, I am a great role model for my kids. I am no athlete like their father but they see me making smart choices when it comes to food and they see me making fitness - and my overall health - a priority.
I think if I had figured this out sooner things would have been very different for me. I would not have gone on so many diets in my younger years or made so many poor choices when it came to food. I would not have pushed myself so hard to "look good" when that was merely one small part of the overall picture. If my motivation had come from loving and caring for myself and my health, instead of changing the way I look, maybe I would have been able to find something sooner.
We all know how important healthy eating and activity are for a healthy heart. That's why we are so excited! Thanks to our supporters, Becel and Loblaw Companies, we are offering one lucky UrbanMoms member a chance to win $500 worth of groceries! All you have to do is comment on this post. Your comment is your entry to win $500 in President's Choice® gift cards accepted at any Loblaw banner store and coupons for free Becel pro.activ. Be sure to check out the two upcoming posts in this blog series for two more chances to win! The winner will be chosen randomly by random.org. Good luck!
Canadians can get a free Healthy Heart Check brought to you by Becel and participating Loblaw banner stores* on March 23rd from 12:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., or by appointment.
*Participating stores include Loblaws, Zehrs, Real Canadian Superstore, Your Independent Grocer, Extra Foods, Atlantic Superstore and Dominion in Newfoundland and Labrador only...