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We celebrated my mom’s 65th birthday this week! I’ll take every opportunity I can to celebrate her life, so obviously, I needed to write a blog post about her. I could list 1,000+ ways that her character, her faith, her personality, her patience, and her generosity have radically changed my life (have I mentioned that I was the challenging daughter?), but one of the biggest areas she has always been a role model to me has been in her healthy living.
Because I was overweight when I was young, people are usually quick to ask if my parents were overweight. In my case, my extra weight was definitely not caused by genetics or by an unhealthy home environment. My mom has always been an active, water-guzzling, veggie-loving adult…it just took decades for all of her healthy living role-modeling to sink in!
Here are 5 things my mother taught me about healthy living over the last 31 years that have helped me to lose 100 pounds and keep it off.
1. Drink Water Constantly
I can’t remember a time in my life when my mom didn’t have a water bottle constantly by her side. She sips water all day, every day. She’s never been a coffee drinker and she’ll have an occasional cup of tea, but her drink of choice is always straight H2O.
Seeing as I hated the taste of plain water until I was 27 years old, I could never wrap my mind around the fact that she actually wanted to drink water all the time instead of Kool-Aid, soda, and juice. Somehow, that eventually rubbed off on me and now I’m exactly the same way! My water bottle is practically attached to my hand and I rarely drink anything else (though I do love hot tea to warm me up during the colder months!). I can’t even begin to guess how many calories and headaches this healthy habit has saved me from (I always get headaches when I’m not drinking enough)!
2. Exercise Consistently
For as long as I can remember, both of my parents have done their exercises as soon as they wake up in the morning. They roll right out of bed and then onto the floor to do pushups and sit-ups. They don’t do a ton of them and it’s not like it’s an intense formal workout, but they do them every. single. day. It doesn’t matter if they are traveling out of the country, at our family cabin, or in a tiny hotel room in South Dakota, they always get their morning exercises in.
It’s just a routine way they’ve decided to make fitness a consistent part of their lives. It’s pretty brilliant since it can be done anywhere and doesn’t require any equipment. My mom always goes above and beyond that morning routine, though! She has taken all kinds of classes at their gym, from step aerobics to belly dancing! She is always paying attention to her weaknesses (balance, arm strength, etc) and trying to find ways to work on strengthening them.
When I was young, she loved finding fun walking tours for our family vacations. Oh, how I hated walking! There wasn’t much she could do in those days past leading by example to motivate me to exercise, but these days, she is the reason I drag myself out of bed when it’s still dark outside to go running in sub-freezing temperatures…and those 3 miles that we run together 3 times a week has become my favorite mother-daughter time with her!
3. Eat Lots of Vegetables
I was exposed to all kinds of vegetables when I was really young. Of course, we had the staples – carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, and squash. But it was important to my mom that we had a wide variety of vegetables, so we also ate things like steamed artichokes, sauteed bok choy, and raw jicama slices regularly.
I am so thankful that I tried so many of those things while I was still young! I’ve never really hated vegetables. There were many years where I obviously preferred chips and chocolate to those vegetables and it still took me a long time to make it a priority to make vegetables a part of every meal. When I actually did get around to eating them regularly, I had all kinds of different ideas that she’d given me on the types of vegetables to use and creative ways to prepare them, though!
4. You can healthify (almost) everything
My mom tried so hard to make everything she made just a little bit healthier. My dad grew up eating Green Chile Casserole, so he really liked it when my mom would make that for us. The recipe isn’t the healthiest with cream soup and lots of cheese, but she tried so hard to sneakily make it healthier! She tried subbing ground turkey for the ground beef, using fat-free shredded cheese, and taking out the cream soup with healthier cream sauces.
Now, she was never able to get away with it in that particular recipe (all of us always noticed and revolted!) and there were a few recipe fails over the years, but she has healthified more recipes than I can count over the years and she has taught me so many ways to do that in my own cooking.
These days, because of her example, I’m always looking for ways to add more vegetables and whole grains to just about everything!
5. Be comfortable with the person God made you to be
I was just a big ol’ ball full of insecurities for most of my childhood and adolescence (and some of my adulthood, for that matter!). As an obese teenager, I was so uncomfortable in my own skin and was constantly trying to find ways to hide. I wanted to believe baggy t-shirts and sweatshirts would do the trick, but it turns out learning to hide better wasn’t the goal to begin with.
My mom has never dyed her hair. She says it’s just how her body was created, so she chooses to embrace it rather than fight the aging process. It’s one of my favorite things about her because it is a constant reminder that I don’t have to pretend to be something that I’m not. Lumps and stretch marks and blemishes and gray hairs don’t make you any less of a person. She taught me to treat my body well, but to realize that it’s just a body, a temporary dwelling place.
These 5 lessons are just the tip of the iceberg of things she’s taught me to make me a healthier, happier, and more godly person in my lifetime, but they have been so impactful in my weight loss journey and beyond! She sure has made good use of her 65 years of life and I hope I can follow her lead and do the same.
What life-changing lessons did your mother teach you?
Did you grow up in a healthy household?
If you are a mother, what healthy habits do you hope to pass along to your kids?
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