“We are going to have you change your diet and exercise but in the meantime you need to take one aspirin every day. You are at a high risk for a stroke or a heart attack.”
I was shocked when I got that report from my doctor. An aspirin regimen? High risk for a stroke or heart attack? Wow… I had no idea my health was in that type of shape.
Yes, I could stand to lose a few pounds, especially around the middle area, but I had never gone above an average size in clothing. I was very athletic as a teenager and hadn’t been to terribly inactive in my adult years. Yeah my diet could have been improved but it wasn’t too bad. I didn’t think I had let my health go to much…but according to this test I had.
But then I realized that I wasn’t factoring in the fact that I am a mom to a child with special needs. And the added stress and tax on my body parenting a special needs child brings.
I firmly believe that it was the numerous sleepless nights, the stress of trying to get my child to gain weight, him constantly throwing up, the numerous appointments, the pressure to do “therapy” with Champion every waking moment, the phone calls, and the list could go on and on that put my health in the shape it was in.
Those things and the fact that in the thick of it all I wasn’t paying my health the attention it needs.
As a mom to a child with special needs, we know that our health is important. We know it, but in the midst of the health needs of our children, our own health is so often overlooked. And understandably so.
The amount of care our children can require of us can push us past physical, mental, and emotional limits.
Finding time to take care of ourselves is challenging in and of itself, but then having the energy to do something about it in the time we do find, even more challenging.
But as moms of children with special needs we have got to make our own health a priority.
Because our children really need us to be healthy for them. They need us to live a long life and be there to take care of them. They need us to have energy to spend on their needs. They need us to be able to meet their needs. And unless we are healthy ourselves we can’t do or be all that they need us to be.
So much easier said then done though.
Even after I got the report from my doctor, actually taking care of myself still was not one of my priorities. I knew it needed to be and on paper it was a priority, but in reality in our day-to-day lives it just wasn’t happening.
When I did have a few minutes to myself expending additional energy exercising was not the way I wanted to spend it.
Cooking a healthy home cooked meal, not something I was going to try to do when I was absolutely exhausted from a sleepless night, running around to therapy and doctors appointments, and struggling with g tube feeds. No way, take out it was again and again and again.
Recently though it clicked, and I realized that making sure that I take time to take care of myself is a form of taking care of Champion. And that has motivated me.
So lately I have been making sure that exercise is more than just a priority on paper and that it is actually something I am following through with doing on a regular basis. And I am seeing benefits from it. And so is my family. And it’s making a big difference in how I feel.
I’d love for you to come back next week for Part 2 where I am going to share in more details how I am actually making exercise happen and some strategies to get started and keep it up.
But before I go today, I just want to encourage every mom of a child with special needs (and any moms period) who are reading this..Please please, if you are not doing so already, do what you need to do to care of your own health.
You are so valuable to your family. You deserve to have energy and to feel good physically.
Life is so much better, even with the day-to-day challenges I know you face, when you just plain feel better. This is new for me, making sure I am healthy, but I am seeing so many benefits. And I desperately want other moms like me to experience these benefits also.
I look forward to seeing you next time and us getting healthy together!
Let’s Talk: What barriers do you find keep you from exercising? If you do exercise regularly what has been your motivation to get started and keep up with it?