Making your own health a priority

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If you're a mom, you probably take care of everything and everyone else first.

For many caregivers, your own health can sometimes fall to the wayside.

But there's a benefit to putting yourself first when it comes to a commitment to health and fitness.

Five years ago, Laura Welsh wasn't exactly the picture of health.

She had coronary artery disease, high blood pressure and osteoarthritis.

"It's hard… when you're younger, you think you're invincible. Nothing's going to happen. Then you slack off and gain some weight,” Welsh said. “That really plays a huge part in your overall health."

Welsh had focused her time and energy on her family and didn’t take time for herself.

"You're not going to be any good to anybody else if you don't take care of yourself," Dr. Jayme Rock-Willoughby said.

Dr. Rock-Willoughby said many women are too busy doing for others that they often neglect themselves.

"If you can start with yourself, I know, like especially with women, we don't always do a very good job of that,” Dr. Rock-Willoughby said. “But if we can make our own health a priority, then we can be better serving to others."

Here’s how you can make your health a priority:

  • Drink more water and you’ll feel less hungry and have more energy.
  • Get plenty of sleep. People who sleep six hours or less are more likely to have health problems.

"Next would be making sure that you're eating a heart-healthy diet,” Dr. Rock-Willoughby said. “So, eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, maintaining your goal body weight, limiting your red meats, having plenty of lean meats, whole grains, all of those things."

Try to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity five days a week.

Welsh has already taken those recommendations to heart and she’s made some healthy changes in her own life.

"Trying to get a little more exercise in, eating better and you know, taking more time for myself and not always worrying about everybody else,” Welsh said. “That's one of the key things she told me to do.”

By making your own health a priority, you are setting an example for your family. Practice what you preach.

"Kids are watching. And if you're taking time to exercise, if you're taking time to eat better, if you're making sure you're getting adequate sleep, your kids are watching and they're going to follow those healthier habits too," Dr. Rock-Willoughby said.

Learn more about the importance of self-care at next week’s OhioHealth HOOFit Walk at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.