By Jodi Hicks

The holidays have officially ended, school is back in session and a new year has begun. In our house a new year means we take time to evaluate priorities and set intentions for the new journey ahead. As perfect as that sounds, the process isn’t perfect. Setting priorities is HARD.

I know you ladies can relate. We all have a million and one things to consider everyday. I currently work 2 jobs, go to school part-time, homeschool one of my kids, chauffeur around my other children and I am a Type-1 diabetic who tries to get in my exercise each day to help control my blood sugars and keep my 40 year old self in decent shape. Not to mention all of the regular household duties there are with a family of 6 people! There are days when I think…”Nah…I’m done. I’m too tired.” Then I remember, life doesn’t work that way.

It is easy as a mom & woman to put other people’s needs or wants ahead of our own. One thing I have learned, from other amazing women and my own mistakes, is that I have to take care of my own health so I am strong enough to take care of others. When that really hit me, it was like a bomb went off. It may sound crazy. I didn’t think of taking care of myself in order to help others. My view before the bomb went off was that I needed to make sure that everyone else was taken care of because I knew I was “okay”. I might skip some meals because I was busy driving everyone back and forth. I wouldn’t check my blood sugar because it was a couple of minutes I couldn’t spare until the end of my day. I would go to bed late because another project was more important. Soon, I could hardly sleep, even though I was exhausted. My blood sugars were through the roof and I was not eating until dinner. Then, I was eating like a ravenous wolf because I had starved all day long. I couldn’t live like that forever. My weight was dropping, which sounds great, but it was because my blood sugars were so high it was causing muscle breakdown. I was physically active. I was thin and appeared to be healthy. But, it was bad. I was killing myself. For reals. I had to take control of my diabetes and that meant eating more consistently, prioritizing exercise and mental health, so that I was healthy for real.I still want to put my family first. But I have to make sure I am physically healthy enough to do all that I want and need to for my family. 

I know that we aren’t all in the exact same situation. I bet some things aren’t so different. We love our families. We want to guide them to grow into their best selves. We have goals and dreams that we want to see realized. We want to look sexy for our significant other. We want to feel feminine, empowered and strong for ourselves. We want to help others around us and leave this world a better place than when we came into it. We want to make a difference. 

How? Unfortunately, this all can’t be completed in one day. I’ve found that I can’t do it alone either. I thought I could! I wanted to help everyone but not be a bother to anyone. Guess what? As much as I wanted someone to need me, I need them. I need friends. I need community. I need other women who can understand my stress, struggles or insecurities. I need other women who I can lift up with my encouraging words and I receive their words of encouragement too. 

When I decided to prioritize my fitness and health, so that I could live long enough to see my grandchildren’s grandchildren, I started looking to other women. I wanted  to see how they prioritized health and fitness and “fit” it into their lives. I looked at how they were trying to juggle their schedules and keep themselves fit and sane. Some ideas I observed worked out for me too. Others did not. But, their examples kept me motivated and opened up so many incredible possibilities. 

My life isn’t less busy. In fact, until graduation in May, it is far more busy. I love to spend every minute possible with my family. They cook next to me, we run errands together, play, work and do homework together, and I include them in my exercise. 

Did I mention I get bored? I like to run. But, not exclusively. I get in my own head too much. I bounce from sport to sport so exercise doesn’t feel mundane. That means I have to get creative with my fitness. Some days it might be 15 minutes of YouTube yoga with the kids and toss in a push-up contest to see if they can beat me. Other days it is an hour at the gym on the rowing machine, lifting weights or in a HIIT class. On glorious summer days it is spent swimming at the lake. If I am working at home I add an extra 2000-4000 steps to my daily goal and make extra trips up the stairs. I do squats in front of the dryer as I fold laundry. Now, I’m considering adding a weighted vest when I do chores around the house. Fitness doesn’t magically happen. I have to make it a priority. Is it easy? NO WAY!! Does it feel good? ABSOLUTELY!!

Our fitness goals and plans are as individual as each of us. Looking at the ideas and schedules of others helps us to see options we may not have considered. Joining Facebook groups, local running clubs or fitness groups can provide you with support and accountability in your fitness goals. Start small, make reasonable goals, rise early or set up a time during the day dedicated directly to your fitness, including mental and spiritual health and find ways to incorporate fitness into your regular daily routine. (Think back to doing squats while folding laundry.) Don’t be afraid to include others in your journey. Like us. All of us reading this. How do each of you prioritize your fitness? Do you turn to anyone in your family or community for support? I know I still need more help. I appreciate your ideas and input. 

You’ve got this ladies! We’ve got this!