How many women do you know who put themselves last? Probably a zillion. We can’t help it. We’re women. We nurture. But the reality is that we really can’t take care of others unless we take care of ourselves first. That’s a tough pill to swallow because we feel so guilty when we think about ourselves and put our needs before others we care about. But putting yourself last day after day will eventually leave you at the end of your rope – all worn and frayed.
My hope is that this blog post will help women find some simple ways to achieve better wellness by being a tad “selfish” with no regrets. My hunch is if you trust the power of nurturing yourself, the rewards you get will empower you to do what comes natural – and care for your loved ones with more intensity than you ever thought you could muster.
There is no shortage of information about what to eat – books, magazines, websites, blogs. What really matters for women’s nutrition? I think its shifting the focus from choosing foods for what they don’t have to looking at foods for what they do have. Low fat. Low sugar. Low carb. Yawwwwwn…. You can go crazy in the grocery store keeping up with the products touting they’re the next best thing you need to be healthy.
Instead, why not try to make one positive nutrition change:
- eat a power-breakfast daily like oatmeal with walnuts and fat free milk
- get your fruit fix by making a fruit and yogurt smoothie or adding fruit to lunch
- try something different like an unusal veggie (jicama) or cooking with beans
If your ideas of exercise include time on the “dreadmill” and “personal draining”, you need to change up your exercise regime! No pain, no gain is so 1990′s. In today’s world, there’s no time to loathe what little personal time we get to sweat it out.
- Try yoga – a moving meditation! Power yoga classes involve using your personal strengths to tone up. Heated classrooms bump up the sweat factor.
- Dance your butt off. More than a popular summer tv show on Oxygen, people are into dancing like never before. Try Zumba or just google a dance studio in your area. Bellydancing, bollywood, ballroom, broadway jazz. Whatever your flavor, take a risk and shake it.
- Sign up for a race. You don’t need to run a marathon to experience the exhileration of getting a race number and crossing the finish line.
All these exercise ideas involve some kind of commitment – and that’s what it takes to really nurture yourself toward wellness. Find something that sounds good. Then tell your spouse or family how important it is to you and ask for their support. Whether it’s relieving you of dinner duty or giving you a ride back and forth, take the help and enjoy your new exercise endeavor!
Maintaining emotional health is so important for wellness. Most women tend to think they strive under stress, but they don’t realize the harm that comes with it when the walls close in. You take on the burdens of others and then you become overwhelmed yourself. Stress triggers changes in our bodies and makes us more likely to get sick. You get tight in your neck, shoulders, and back. You have trouble sleeping. Stress can also make problems we already have worse. Maybe you had a bad day at work, but because your family members had a bad day you keep it in. Then the food comes calling and you’re in for a night of emotional eating.
The key to healthy stress management is to let it all out. Every day.
- talk to someone, and let others know if you can’t take on the burdens of their stress (give yourself permission to be selfish and not listen once in awhile)
- find a quiet corner, lay down, and breathe to a slow count
- remind yourself that food didn’t cause your stressful situation and it won’t solve it either
- have some sex – what can I say, all those lovely endorphins will drown the stress out of your body and mind
Relationships are one of the core human needs. The reason you are such a nurturing person is that you value relationships. But boy can they suffer if you are stressed, eating poorly, and not exercising. This is the part where you can’t really care for others (relationships) if your life is not in order.
Take a minute and think about your relationships today:
- How strong are your personal relationships?
- How much effort do you put in them?
- Are you getting out of them what you need or do you give too much with little in return?
Let go of what you don’t need and transfer the newly available attention to the relationships that really matter most. Those relationships allow the other keys to wellness fall into place. You can lean on people to support you in your nutrition and exercise efforts and when life’s stresses get to be too much, they can help you deal with it.
Healthy Women Are (a Little) Selfish
Everything is connected, nutrition, exercise, stress management, and relationships all have a role in contributing to your wellness. While I spend most of my waking hours educating people about nutrition and exercise. I have come to realize that you can’t really tackle behavior changes without the strong foundation of healthy stress management and the social support that comes with stable relationships.
My personal opinion is that being a little selfish is one of the most selfless things you can do. If you’re going to spread your nurturing qualities to those around you, don’t you want to give the best of yourself?
This post is part of the Women’s Health Blogfest. Please check out the posts from other dietitians blogging about Women’s Health! (Thanks, Renata for organizing!)
Angela White at Blisstree’s Breastfeeding 1-2-3 – Helpful Skills of Breastfeeding Counselors
Angie Tillman, RD, LDN, CDE – You Are Beautiful Today
Anthony J. Sepe – Women’s Health and Migraines
Ashley Colpaart – Women’s health through women
Charisse McElwaine – Spending too much time on the “throne?”
Danielle Omar – Yoga, Mindful Eating and Food Confidence
Diane Preves M.S.,R.D – Balance for Health
Joan Sather – A Woman’s Healthy Choices Affect More Than Herself
Laura Wittke – Fibro Study Recruits Participants
Liz Marr, MS, RD – Reflecting on Family Food Ways and Women’s Work
Marjorie Geiser, MBA, RD, NSCA-CPT – Healthy Women, Healthy Business: How Your Health Impacts a Powerful Business
Marsha Hudnall – Breakfast Protein Helps Light Eaters Feel Full
Michelle Loy, MPH, MS, RD – A Nutritionista’s Super Foods for Super Skin
Monika Woolsey, MS, RD – To effectively work with PCOS is to understand a woman’s health issues throughout her life
Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog – How breastfeeding helps you, too
Rebecca Scritchfield, MA, RD, LD – Four Keys to Wellness, Just for Women
Renata Mangrum, MPH, RD – The busy busy woman
Robin Plotkin, RD, LD – Feeding the Appetites of the Culinary, Epicurious and Nutrition Worlds-One Bite at a Time
Sharon Solomon – Calories, longevity and do I care
Terri L Mozingo, RD, CDN & D. Milton Stokes, MPH, RD, CDN of One Source Nutrition, LLC – Crossing the Line: From Health to Hurt
Wendy Jo Peterson, RD – Watch Your Garden Grow
Filed under: adult health, eating healthy, exercise, nutrition | Tagged: exercise, nutrition, relationships, stress management, wellness | 16 Comments »