(Editor’s note: The Take Charge! Live Well series is an initiative of the Fayette County Living Well Workgroup in conjunction with The Fayette Tribune. The workgroup is funded through the Marshall University Center for Rural Health through the Appalachian Regional Commission, and Community Transformation Grant through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)
I was asked to write an article highlighting the success of someone who had made a change for the better for their health. Believe it or not, I had trouble thinking of someone, and I work with people all the time who make positive health changes. But I just had one of those moments when I couldn’t pick any one story in particular.
But as I thought it through, I realized I didn’t have just one person to write about. I had many.
I am a mother of two, and I have a lot of friends and colleagues who are moms as well. We talk all the time about our health, and the health of our families.
We talk about whether we are stressed out, whether we are getting enough sleep, whether we are eating right, if we have a chance to exercise, or will we be able to lose this extra weight we’ve been carrying around.
So why don’t I come up with just one story to write? Well because to tell you the truth, while there are several successes I can think of, there are many ups and downs that occur all the time. An example is my friend Valeria Carte.
“I have struggled for years with my personal health. I have been on the roller coaster ride of lose weight, then gain weight. It is not due to lack of knowledge; it is due only from lack of self-discipline. I have lost as much as 40 pounds, ran/walked a 5K, helped coach sports, the list goes on, but my dedication to eat healthy has never been consistent,” Carte said.
“Daily it’s a struggle for health with the demands of a family making this a bigger challenge. (It is so convenient to frequent the drive through with 6-8 sports games a week).
“I try to stay active and correct bad habits, with the thought in my mind always, ‘Should I eat that?.’ Watching other ladies is always an incentive, and having a buddy to cheer you on is always helpful. But for me health is a lifetime battle.”
If you look at these moms as a group, we are a huge mix of triumph and defeat. Some of the great accomplishments include losing 30 to 40 pounds, running a half-marathon for the first time, or coaching your child’s soccer team when you don’t know anything about soccer, but you go out three times a week and play on that practice field with them anyway.
There are also small successes such as planting a garden or shopping at the local farmer’s market to have healthier food, switching to low-fat milk at home and getting your family to adjust to it, even while they complain. Some of us get up at 5 a.m. just to have some exercise time in our days, because after 7, the day is no longer ours. Or try going for a walk while your kids are at practice instead of sitting and waiting on them.
Leah Peal and I will get together during the school day to get in a walk, or do a Zumba video, to try to do something when our families were busy elsewhere. These things may seem small, and they may not result in significant weight loss or a medal, but they are triumphs to be celebrated all the same.
I want to write about the moms I know. The ones who may not succeed every day, whose busy schedules, stresses and lifestyle demands get in the way of many of their personal goals.
“When I was diagnosed with high cholesterol I knew I needed to make lifestyle changes,” said Autumn Bess. “I see articles over and over about heart disease being the #1 killer. I often feel guilt when I take time away from my children and my ‘mom’ duties to walk or run, but I must remind myself over and over that in the bigger scheme of things I am saving myself FOR them.”
To these really great ladies, you are a success! To these moms and all the others, you have never given up. You have never said, “I don’t care.” What you have said is, “I will try again tomorrow.”
So even if you gained some of your weight back, and you might not reach this year’s 5K goal, the fact is, as soon as you can make it happen, you will focus on your own health needs again, and again, and again.
You are heroes to me. Your persistence is inspirational to me. So congratulations to each and every one of you!
(Weatherford is the families and health agent for the Fayette County office of the WVU Extension Service in Fayetteville.)