Star’s Corner: How to Make Your Health and Self a Priority
“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” –Martin Luther King Jr.
Women are busy. We take care of everything and everyone—balancing work and life and everything in between. We often miss the most important aspect of our lives: ourselves. The most important thing about your life is the way you live it. Neglecting your health is the worst thing you can do to yourself.
It’s time to look forward and think about where you want to be five . . . 10 . . . 20+ years from now. If your answer is, “alive,” then you’re on the right track. It’s time to choose to live healthy and be in complete control of your life and body. Take it from me—a heart disease survivor—there’s nothing scarier than the thought of not knowing, or even worse, not living.
For me, I didn’t have a choice and many of you don’t either. The numbers tell us that 1 in 3 women will die of heart disease and stroke, and more than 43 million women in the US are affected by cardiovascular disease. Nationwide, 50% of African-American women and 30% of White women are considered obese—and you know I am an expert on obesity.
Twelve years ago, I weighed 307 pounds.
In order for me to get a handle on my health… the first thing I had to do was accept responsibility for my own actions. I was the one eating the “double whopper with cheese, extra ketchup, extra mayonnaise, no pickle.” See, how it still rolls right off the tongue…I was the one who went from sexy & full figured to sloppy and fat. And I was the one who made the decision to get control of my weight and that decision saved my life. In the words of one of my favorite movies, Shawshank Redemption, “I had to get busy living or get busy dying.” I chose to live.
Gastric Bypass surgery jump-started my road to health in 2003… but changing my overall lifestyle has been key to me being healthy and happy.
With the help of my doctors, weight loss surgery and a commitment to healthy living, I have been able to maintain a 140-pound weight loss for more than a decade! I have a law degree, numerous accolades and awards and nine straight Emmy nominations, but THAT is the greatest accomplishment of my entire life.
In fact, making the decision to focus on my health probably saved my life as I, too, was diagnosed with heart disease in 2010. After successful open-heart surgery, I became the National Volunteer for the American Heart Association. I realized I had an obligation that reached beyond my own health. I made a commitment to use whatever platform I have in the public eye to raise awareness of heart disease in women.
Taking steps toward living a healthy lifestyle makes all the difference. Here are tips on how to make your health and self a priority:
Commit to Healthy Living
No excuses! Make a life-long promise to love yourself. Commitment is the strongest power you have. I always say… “There is no force equal to that of a determined woman.” The more you stay active, the more you’ll want to stay active. It’s a lifestyle. It’s hard work, but it’s worth it—YOU’RE worth it.
Listen to Your Body…
It’s your divine compass. You’ve heard of trusting your gut? It’s good advice! Get to know the warning signs of serious health problems. For instance, I knew something was wrong when I experienced extreme fatigue, lightheadedness, shortness of breath and intense heart palpitations—all signs of heart disease. I listened to my body and caught it before I had a cardiac event. Pay attention to what your body is telling you. Educate yourself about symptoms and early warning signs of health conditions that may run in your family.
Nurture Your Mind and Spirit
Maintain a balance between your daily responsibilities and the things you enjoy the most. Make time for contemplation and appreciation. Meditate, pray or simply take a moment to relax and unwind. Pamper yourself when you need a little TLC. Foster meaningful relationships with family and friends, and fill your life with support, love and laughter.
Diversify Your Diet
When you hear the word diet, you automatically think “restrictive,” but that’s not always the case if you mix it up. A varied diet can benefit you just like a change in your exercise routine. Achieve nutritional diversity by preparing your own meals at home and take charge of what you’re eating. Be creative. Search online for some new healthy recipes and start preparing
Stay Active with Fun Activities
Bored with your same old gym routine? Working out doesn’t have to be a chore. Get moving with activities that are physical and fun, such as Zumba or yoga. Challenge your teamwork skills and sign up for an adult sports league or take a salsa class! Trying different activities is a great way to stay motivated and step out of your comfort zone to meet new people and enjoy
Maintaining good health is one of the most significant issues facing women today. We know women are caregivers by nature… we are as the Bible says…”the hedge of protection for our families.” We are always there for our families and friends, etc., but we have to start making our own health a priority.
Let’s face it, “If Momma ain’t healthy, ain’t nobody healthy.”
So, I ask you to take that knowledge and turn it into action, and decide to make your own heart-health YOUR priority. Period.
And we ALL know… when women make something a priority, it gets done.
How do you plan to make your health and self a priority? Share your comments below.