To Be Healthier

Kevin had a nice post at BCC not long ago on losing weight. It is, after all the time of year for buckling down and deciding that this time, we’re going to do those hard things that we’ve been struggling with. While I’m fairly happy with my weight right now (I’m not quite where I want to be, but I’m steadily losing baby weight), it reminded me of a related goal I have this year: to be healthier.

I spend a very large percentage of my time trying to make my kids healthier. What with the autism, the food allergies, and the various gastrointestinal issues, it’s a huge undertaking. With a very large amount of work, though, I’m finally starting to get it figured out. This fact was brought home to me over Christmas break, when a bout of the flu made its rounds through my in-laws’ house. There were 9 adults and 12 children there. Of them, only 4 people didn’t catch the flu: my sister-in-law’s two-month-old nursing baby (who presumably got the antibodies from her mother, who did catch it) and my three boys. It used to be that they were the first to catch every little bug that came around (as evidenced by the flu bug that made its rounds 3 years ago at Christmas, which my oldest was the first to get), and that it would hang on much longer for them than it would for anyone else (the 24-hour bug we had last Spring had my middle son still throwing up a week later). But this time they were the only ones that managed to stay healthy through a week of playing with sick cousins and being cared for by sick parents. It was marvelous.

You’ll notice, though, that I did not make the list of those passed over by the flu bug. It made me realize that as much care as I take with my children’s health, I don’t take the same care with my own. At this point the problem is not that I don’t know how — while I don’t necessarily have the same problems as my kids, I can easily apply the same principles I use for them on myself. I’ve just been so focused on them that I haven’t worried about my health as much. But since I’ll not only feel better if I’m healthier, I’ll be better able to take care of the kiddos, I am resolving to focus on my own health a little more.

Other than the big steps of cutting foods out of their diets completely (which I’m not quite prepared to do for myself yet, mostly because it’s so dang expensive), I’ve gotten the kiddos healthier by very small steps, so I’m going to use the same approach for myself. To begin with I’m going to try and exercise 10 minutes once a week. (Yes, I know this is an insanely small amount, but trust me, with three little ones I do get more exercise than that. I just don’t get much dedicated exercise, which is what this will be.) I’m also going to start taking a multivitamin and probiotics every day. And I’m going to try to eat less sugary food (because I’m a total sugar addict). That’s it. Not too hard, right? All it requires is paying a little more attention to myself and what I’m doing.

I’d love to hear what small steps the rest of you take to try to stay healthier.


  1. “Other than the big steps of cutting foods out of their diets completely…”

    I do hope you meant to insert “non-organic” or “processed” in there, although cutting foods out of their diet might save you quite a bit of money as well! 🙂

  2. It took me most of last year to get in the habit, but I feel like I’ve finally integrated exercise into my life. Just a few weeks ago I signed our family up for delivery of produce–normally I can’t afford organic produce, but you can get it much cheaper if you order through a company that delivers it to your home. Plus we get a variety of things that I wouldn’t normally buy–yesterday in our box we got chard and kale. So we’re learning to like more veggies. I wonder how much individual body chemistry plays into immunity as well–my kids are hardly ever sick and we don’t eat much organic foods and we eat plenty of dairy. A family member that we know who eats no dairy and is very particular about foods is constantly sick. It could also be genetics–my family is extremely healthy and has no allergies but dh’s family has a lot of food-related issues. I think my kids ended up with my genes, thank goodness.

  3. Grace, I meant that I cut specific foods out of their diet, not all foods (for them, wheat, dairy, soy, treenuts and mango).

    BrianJ, I think stretching is very good. I think I’ll try to do that more as well. It’s so easy, but it makes me feel better every time I do it. Thanks for the suggestion!

    FoxyJ, I think individual body chemistry plays a huge role. What’s good for some people is bad for others. The trick is figuring out what works for you (which is what I’ve spent the last year figuring out for my kids, but not for myself). And I’ve thought about joining a CSA, since I’m so bad about using fresh veggies, but my husband’s kind of against it (since I’m so bad about using fresh veggies, and he thinks they’ll all just go to waste).

  4. Ahhh, all is clear now! And I can definitely see what a lot of work it would be to eliminate those foods. Wow.

  5. I try to be healthier, but it’s much easier for me to exercise than to remember to eat healthy. (Unless, of course, I began buy only health food 🙂
    My problem is that when I take my kids to the childcare at the gym, they end up getting sick then I can’t take them back for a few weeks, then the cycle repeats.
    Until June when the 100 + degree heat kills all virus and bacteria, and then we’re all pretty healthy, but dang hot.

    Anyway, exercising is on my goal list, but better food hasn’t been, until now.
    Thanks for the post!

  6. This fall I realized how much junk I was putting into my body and how it was affecting me (negatively). I’ve since started trying to cut back on the sugar and processed foods and add more fresh fruits and vegetables, etc., back into my diet. This will be easier to do this summer when my CSA starts up again.

    *I’m looking into taking yoga classes starting later this spring or summer.

    *I want to go to the doctor and get tested for food allergies, etc. I have weird reactions to food (not as bad as Vada’s kids, but there’s something there), and I want to figure out what’s going on.

    *I also need to look into vitamins and supplements (esp. eating/taking more omega-3).

    There’s a lot here, but my current plan is to tackle it one thing at a time–for example, I’m starting with adjusting my diet/doing more cooking/taking vitamins, and I’ll go from there.

  7. I am still trying to loose my pregnancy weight. One of my small goals is to not eat anything after 8 pm. I got into the habit of making a snack after I put the baby to bed, and I am trying to break it.

  8. Kori, I like the idea of loosing your pregnancy weight, so it can wreak havoc on the world. 🙂

    Good question, Vada. I’m playing lots of active Wii games with my kids. Really I do it for fun, but I tell myself it’s also (a little) good for me.

    That’s interesting about the gym childcare being a germfest, Jessawhy. My wife used to work in one, and that was her experience too. It was nice that she could take our kid(s) to work with her, but they did get sick a lot too.

  9. I’ve been thinking about this a LOT lately — after watching my body recover from two very stressful pregnancies, I gained a new appreciation for my body and I really want to take better care of it and stop putting so much junk into it.

    It’s tricky, though. DH has a soldier’s metabolism, so he needs lots of protein and tons of calories just to keep him from losing weight — but he’s allergic to EVERYTHING. EVERYTHING. EVERYTHING. He has non-IgE allergies/sensitivities to: carrots, apples, celery, pears, strawberries, melons, avocados, dill, parsley, potato, anise, coriander, peaches, prunes, all tree nuts (EXCEPT peanuts… and DS is allergic to those) and cabbage. And DS is likely allergic to a lot of the same things (still testing). This makes trying to incorporate veggies into the family diet INSANE.

    But! I’m figuring out things I can do. Like I made a commitment to do most of my groceries shopping along the outside edge of the store (the fresh dairy, meats, and produce) and avoid the middle of the store as much as possible (processed foods, high sodium canned foods, soda and junk food). And I just bought Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian Cookbook and it’s becoming my bible for cooking. She organizes her cookbook according to vegetable and she uses a lot of unusual vegetables too — so I marked all the ones that no one in the family is allergic to and have been working through those.

    BrianJ – stretching is a great idea. I think I’d feel better being active if I weren’t so stiff.

    I started taking a multivitamin every day, but I hadn’t thought of probiotics. I’m going to have to add that.

  10. Vada,
    By all means, join a CSA! You do have to work to not let vegetables go bad, but through our several years of being in one, my wife and I have been introduced to amazing vegetables (bitter greens and bok choy leap to mind) that we wouldn’t otherwise have learned about. And, as long as you remember what each vegetable is (which I progressively got better at), you can always search for recipes at, or whatever your favorite recipe site is.

    It is amazing how much better real fresh, non-grocery-store, in-season, local vegetables taste, and it’s always fun, the day after the veggies arrive, to come up with a menu that incorporates them. (Use that as a selling point: having a menu and a shopping list cuts down significantly on impulse buying, and saves tons of money.)

    Sorry this is long, but CSAs are one of my favorite things in the whole wide world.

  11. Yeah, I’m a big fan of CSA’s–I live in north/central CA so I’m right in the mecca of local food, but I know they have a lot of options all over. It is definitely challenging to figure out how to eat stuff, and honestly none of us are big fans yet of greens (especially this week when we got bok choy, chard, kale, and collards!), but we are experimenting. I was totally surprised by how wonderful carrots taste when they are the fresh, organic juicy ones from the CSA and not those nasty little “baby carrots” that are always dried out.

  12. I’m reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma for my book group, so I think I’ll be making a more concerted effort to avoid engineered corn in my food. We already eat mostly organic produce, dairy and meat, but I think when I start really looking at the ingredient lists I’ll want to start weaning my family off boxed breakfast cereals and (our biggest collective weakness) Reduced Fat Wheat Thins.

    For me, I’m trying to implement the four basic rules from I Can Make You Thin (did anyone else watch this, on TLC, several months ago?): 1. Eat when you’re hungry. 2. Eat what you want to eat. 3. When you’re full, stop. 4. Move a little more. Sounds simple, right? But it’s amazing to realize just how much when and what and how much of what I eat is determined by factors other than what my body is telling me right that minute. And it’s sooooo hard to break the plate-cleaning habit.

  13. Well, I’m a fan of Taubes Good Calories, Bad Calories and the Shangri La Diet. My life has really improved since I lost the weight two years or so ago, and I’m glad it stayed off.


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