Ready For A Mama-to-Mama Challenge?

One of the benefits of getting older is that we become a little more self-aware. And as a result, when we decide to make a personal change in our daily habits we can manipulate the environment a bit in order to help ourselves succeed.

Change is tough. And sometimes the idea of making even the smallest tweak to our lifestyle can seem like a totally unrealistic option.

But if we know ourselves even a little bit, we can increase the likelihood that our efforts will pay off. We’re all different and what it takes to get us motivated to do something we need or want to do, especially if it isn’t immediately gratifying, varies depending on our personalities.

Here’s how it works for me: Say for example, I want to start a new exercise routine. I’ve learned over the years that I am not one of those jump-out-of bed-and-perform-100-sit-ups-before-I-go-to-the-bathroom kind of gals. Nope, not me. I’m just not one of those intensely self-motivated kinds of people when it comes to exercise. I wish I were — I admire those folks like crazy but I didn’t seem to have gotten that gene.

But I did get the gene that responds to peer pressure or a challenge. If I sign up for a yoga class, for example, or make a bargain with a friend to walk twice a week or cut out sugar for a month, I’ll stick to it. I need the camaraderie or the accountability or something. It’s the most sure-fired way for me to follow through so I get the results I’m looking for.

I’m telling you this because if you happen to fall into the second category, I’ve got great news and a challenge to go along with it. I’m looking for some mama buddies to join me in a dietary change that can have a BIG payoff down the line. Don’t freak, it’s not that hard and it’s only for a week! After that you can keep it going or not, as you see fit. The buddy system is just to get the ball rolling. Are you game?

Here’s the deal: A huge, long-term study that has just come out of the University of Oxford found that when people ate 8 servings of fruits and vegetables per day (as opposed to the 3-5 that most people shoot for) they cut their risk of heart disease by 22%! Mamas, that is big!!

Now I realize that at your age heart disease may not seem like a threat worth paying too much attention to. But that is simply not the case. It is the single leading cause of death in American women and a major cause of disability for them, too.

My sister-in-law died of a massive and totally unexpected heart attack at age 43, leaving behind two tiny daughters. And if you ask around, I bet you’ll be surprised by how many other mothers, sisters, friends, aunts and cousins you hear about who were also stricken with heart disease.

We tend to worry about cancer but actually twice as many women die from cardiovascular diseases in the U.S. than from all forms of cancer combined, including breast cancer. Did you get that? TWICE as many!

So will you join me, for one week, in eating 8 servings of fruits and veggies per day? It’s not as hard as it might seem. Consider this:

1. A large apple, orange or banana for breakfast gives you 2 servings, right off the bat.

2. Adding lettuce and tomato to your lunchtime sandwich gives you 2 more (you need 3 oz. to make one serving).

3. Or, just have a salad of pre-washed lettuce plus half a tomato and some cucumber for lunch and you’ve got 3 more.

4. Serve yourself a side of broccoli and peas, carrots, or cauliflower for dinner and then finish the day off with some sliced strawberries and blue berrries for dessert and you’re done!

As you can see it’s not hard. I’m going to do it. Send me a note to let me know that you’re on board, too. Knowing that I have some buddies out there making their hearts healthier too will help me stick to my guns. And the silver lining is knowing that you are significantly increasing the odds that you will be around for your kids as they grow up.

And, of course, you will be acting like a super role model. Once again, it’s monkey see, monkey do.

*For more information on women and heart disease go to: http://www.womensheart.org/content/HeartDisease/heart_disease_facts.asp

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Ellen W. Schrier, LCSW, is a family therapist and the mother of three adolescent/young adult kids.


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3 responses to “Ready For A Mama-to-Mama Challenge?”

  1. Jessica

    YES! I’m on board. My diet (formerly very rich in fruits and veggies and low in animal proteins) plunged into the abyss of poor food choices when my son was born — and those choices have become entrenched in our household. Time for a return to better habits! Thanks for the idea and the encouragement.

  2. Paige

    Such a great challenge Ellen! Consider our house on board! I love your challenge for two reasons. One, it’s just plain good for you. Second, it sets a good example for our kids. If we can teach our kids the importance of healthy eating when they are young, we are giving them a platform that will carry them through their life. Thanks Ellen! ;-)

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