I was compensated by Med-IQ through an educational grant from Novo Nordisk to write about the realities of obesity as a chronic disease. All opinions are my own.
For too many years I viewed self-care as a luxury or it was an afterthought. It also took me a while to connect the dots between caring for myself, leading a healthier lifestyle and managing my weight.
Like most moms, life has become too stressful. Between caring for my family and working full time, it’s easy to forget that if I am unwell, it’s impossible to fulfill all my responsibilities. The more I searched for balance, the more unbalanced I felt. You know why? Because there was a crucial component missing from the equation: me.
I now know I’m not alone. A few weeks ago I began working with Med-IQ to help generate awareness and dispel certain myths about obesity. I encouraged everybody to take the Med-IQ survey, and the feedback from more than 1,000 participants shows some common themes:
- Weight has been a health concern for longer than a decade (52%)
- The primary health concern due to weight is cardiovascular disease, such as high blood pressure, stroke, and heart attack (48%)
- Roadblocks to successful weight management include too much stress (57%), lack of time to exercise (56%), and inadequate sleep (48%).
The great news is that we can change this. We can all do better when it comes to taking care of ourselves. You can also find so much support online, like on the community page of the Obesity Action Coalition.
5 Simple self-care tips that I use
After years of learning to take better care of myself, here are a few self-care tips that have worked for me:
- Write it down. Whether you use a paper or electronic scheduler, get your self-care time in your calendar! I use my smartphone calendar app, schedule the frequency and reminder alerts. Technology can be a great ally: if you have an activity tracker, it can also remind you to be more active and track your sleep patterns.
- Enlist a friend. The more, the merrier. Even if it’s once a week, make a plan to do something for your health with somebody you want to see. I like to do this with friends, so we chat before we get together to have breakfast. Or we take a brief walk after dinner instead of having dessert. I try to block extra time so I can unwind, catch up, and refresh. The best part? We hold each other accountable.
- Think about health goals, not weight goals. Perhaps you want to be able to walk a certain distance and not be out of breath, something that keeps me motivated. Or you want to be more active and strengthen your core muscles to help prevent back pain, because it runs in your family like it does in mine. Keeping those health goals in mind will seem much more attainable and less frustrating than a number on the scale.
- Dress the part. If taking better care of yourself means finding time to be more active, a tip that works for me is to put on workout clothes as soon as you get out of bed or the minute you get back home. If your idea of self-care is relaxing at home over the weekend, put on a comfy robe so you’re not tempted to do anything productive or run errands.
- Celebrate each achievement. In my experience, it’s easy to become frustrated with ourselves when we miss a daily goal, but it’s just as easy to overlook everything we manage to do. Did you reduce your sugar intake? Did you add more fresh veggies to your meal? Did you get a full night of sleep? Those changes might seem minor, but they all add up to taking better care of yourself. And guess what: the better we feel about ourselves, the better the odds that we will continue doing what makes us feel better. In my case, I am prone to forgetting what I do and the goals I achieve, so I write everything down to keep track of it.
Help others by sharing your thoughts
Med-IQ is currently conducting a survey that includes more information, and would appreciate your input. The survey, which includes more education on this topic, will take less than 15 minutes to complete. Survey responses are anonymous and will be shared only in aggregate. Your responses to these survey questions will provide us with important information about your experiences with obesity and your care team, which will help us develop future educational initiatives for healthcare providers to improve care.
Once you’ve completed the survey, you will be asked to provide your email address if you’d like to be entered into a drawing administered by SOMA Strategies to win 1 of 10 $50 VISA gift cards. If you choose to enter, your email address will not be sold, kept, or stored; email addresses are used only to randomly draw the winners and notify them of their prize.
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