Health and Wellness – What does it mean to you?
For me, if I’m honest, the answer has changed over the years and through several big life events. As a teen, I hardly thought about my health, but at the time I was very active – always involved in school sports and running. In my twenties, I still felt I had enough energy and strength even though I exercised less and didn’t really focus on my eating habits. In fact, I successfully ran a half marathon without much (or any) training and without proper footwear. Shortly after, my body began to change, as did my metabolism and energy. Suddenly, health and wellness became an important part of my life and I became more conscious of my actions and how they impacted me physically and mentally. I can no longer rely on “good genes” to keep me healthy, energized and looking fit. I need to work on it and that means I need to focus on my “diet” and exercise.
Of course, it’s all easier said than done. Two years ago I worked hard at losing my “baby weight” after my third son Nathan was born. I focused on my eating (eliminating sugar, reducing carbs intake, increasing water intake and portion control) and exercising for 30 minutes a day. I had amazing results in just one month and I was able to keep up this lifestyle for a good year. However, I soon found myself falling back into old habits. I noticed a change in my energy level and my physical appearance. And while I’m currently going through a busy and stressful time in my life, I think that now, more than ever, I need to refocus on my health. This is something that I’ve been trying to do for the past several months but haven’t found the motivation (or time) for.
I think the key is to make a plan and stick to it. I’ve started drinking Equate High Protein Shake (pre mixed) and taking Equate Women’s Formula Multivitamin and Mineral Supplement (both sold exclusively at Walmart Canada). The shakes, which are available in three flavours (chocolate, vanilla and strawberry), are tasty (A must for me!) and filling. It’s a great way to start your morning or if you prefer an egg breakfast, take one with you on the go and enjoy it for lunch. The shake will leave you feeling full and satisfied while providing you with sufficient nutrition to keep your energy levels up for the rest of the day. The multivitamin and mineral supplement can help provide some of what you may be missing due to your diet or external factors (like lack of sunshine). Just making these simple changes can make a world of a difference in your lifestyle, no matter what your wellness goal is.
If you’re looking for some expert advice (and aren’t we all), here are some great tips from Sue Mah, RD, Registered Dietitian, regarding women’s health. Tip #7 is a must-read for all women!
10 Essential Tips for Women’s Health
- Get enough iron. Iron helps form the hemoglobin in your red blood cells which carries oxygen from your lungs to every part of your body. When you’re low in iron, you’ll feel tired, look pale and may develop anemia. Aim for 18 mg of iron a day. Vegetarians need almost double that amount. Food sources: meat, poultry, fish; beans, lentils; spinach; iron-fortified breads, pasta and breakfast cereals.
- Count your calcium. Your bone density actually continues to grow until about age 30. Calcium keeps your bones and teeth strong. Aim for 1,000 mg of calcium every day. Food sources: milk, fortified soy / almond / plant-based beverages; cheese, yogurt; edamame beans, tofu, navy beans; almonds; collards, kale.
- Focus on folic acid. Taking a folic acid supplement before you get pregnant helps reduce the risk of birth defects that affect the baby’s brain and spine. If you could become pregnant, are pregnant or breastfeeding, take a supplement of 400 mcg (0.4 mg) of folic acid every day. Food sources: dark green vegetables; orange juice, cantaloupe, papaya; peanut butter, sunflower seeds; beans, chickpeas, lentils; enriched bread, pasta and breakfast cereals.
- Consider a multivitamin supplement. With a fast-paced, busy lifestyle, it can sometimes be tricky to get all the nutrients you need from food alone. Consider taking a supplement such as Equate Women’s Formula Multivitamin and Mineral Supplement. It contains a range of nutrients to help maintain immune function, maintain healthy skin, and help in the development and maintenance of bones, cartilage, teeth and gums. Talk to a Registered Dietitian for personalized advice about supplements.
- Get social with food! Celebrate the joy of food by cooking and eating with your kids, family and friends. Ask the kids to help you pick out veggies at the grocery store. Start a cooking club with friends. Take a stroll to the weekly farmers’ market together.
- Stay fueled on the go. Missed a meal because you were too pressed for time? We’ve all been there at one point or another. Keep your energy levels up with a ready-to-drink nutritional shake like Equate High Protein Shake. A serving offers 225 calories, 25 essential vitamins and minerals, and 12 grams of protein.
- Ditch the diets. Diets are out and healthy, wholesome eating is in. There’s absolutely no need to feel guilty over a glass of wine or a piece of cherry cheesecake every now and then. Have a healthy relationship with food and tell yourself it’s OK to enjoy these treats in moderation.
- Let movement be your medicine. You may have heard that sitting is the new smoking. Prolonged sitting may increase your chances of developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer. Regular activity is also a natural stress buster. Find activities that you enjoy and work up a good sweat. Hot yoga, anyone?
- Practice the 3 Ps: Prioritize, Plan, Pace. Life moves fast. Nobody is expecting you to be perfect or get everything done in a day. Prioritize your tasks so that the most important ones get done first. Then, plan your “To Do” list. Finally, pace yourself to avoid burnout.
- Get a good night’s sleep. Not only is sleep deprivation tied to possible weight gain, but it’s also linked to a higher risk of health problems such as diabetes and heart disease. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep every night. As a new day dawns, you’ll feel refreshed, energized and ready to take on the world!
Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Walmart Canada as part of the “What Women’s Health Means to Me” program. In exchange for this post, I have received perks in the form of products and/or compensation. All opinions on this blog are my own.