I was a sleep walker.
My mom used to tell me funny stories about my night time walkabouts when I was a kid. Like the time I peed in the garbage can in the kitchen thinking it was a toilet. Or how I once came downstairs at 10pm requesting tomato soup, unaware of the fact that I was sleeping.
There was also the time I went outside late at night in the middle of a snowstorm. Thank goodness my mother was a night owl. She had been waiting up for my dad to come home from a late shift and had heard the front door open, then shut. After a few moments when she heard nothing else, she got up to see where my dad was. When she saw he wasn’t there, she opened the front door and there I was sitting on the front steps covered in snow wearing only my pajamas.
Neither of my sons were sleepwalkers but their nighttime habits were as different as night and day. My oldest son would always wait in his crib, then his bed, until we came to get him.
My younger son was a wanderer. Often times when he was a toddler, I’d wake up in the middle of the night to find he had climbed out of his crib and was playing in the living room.
By the time he was three he had figured out how to work the doorknob protectors that kept him from getting outside. That was when we had locks placed on the front and back doors that were out of his reach but this didn’t stop him from trying. On different occasions he used both a step stool and a kitchen chair to reach the locks that were keeping him in, but thankfully his arms were still too little to get up that high.
Once when he slept over at his grandmother’s house, he got out of his crib in the middle of the night and pushed it until it blocked the bedroom door, then he got back in and went back to sleep. In the morning she couldn’t get to him and it took a few minutes of convincing to get him to climb out and move the crib so she could come in.
Daytime was no different, the moment I turned my head he would be gone. Shopping malls were a nightmare and the thought of taking him to an amusement park left me with cold sweats. He's older now and the curiousity that made him want to wander off without a care in the world is now used for things that don't turn my hair grey.
Before I had him I used to roll my eyes at parents who put their children in harnesses and would never believe a child could ever get out of a house if there was a protective device placed on a doorknob to keep a child in.
Now I know better, I know never to judge.
Because kids can be resourceful.
Even little ones.
My mom died when she was 59. That thought crosses my mind every day of every week, and when I think of all that she - that we - have missed, it breaks my heart.
I used to be a couch potato. When I first met my husband, he went to the gym five days a week. I sat at home and watched television or read. Running was a foreign concept to me and my idea of exercise was a night out dancing with girlfriends. Even after my mom passed away, I didn’t make any changes. But with age comes the realization that you aren’t invincible and mortality is the great equalizer.
When I first started to work out “for reals” a few years ago, I had an “all or nothing mentality.” If I couldn’t fit in an intense workout, I wouldn’t work out, period. Unfortunately this meant there were many days I didn’t work out at all which defeated the whole purpose.
I don’t want my kids to grow up without me so I implemented small changes that made a big difference in my health. If there is one piece of advice I want you to take away from this, it’s this:
You don’t have to do a complete overhaul in order to be improve your health. And there is no failure because creating a healthier lifestyle is an ongoing journey. If you fall off the wagon, you can just get right back on.
Here are five simple things you can do to get back on the healthy wagon and help you live a longer, healthier life.
You can’t swing an exercise ball without hitting an article about how sitting still is killing us. I want you to take a moment and be honest with yourself. How much of the day are you sitting? I’m an active person who works out five to six days a week and when I did my own honest assessment the answer shocked me.
If you are sitting more than you’re moving, it’s time to change that. Buy a pedometer and monitor your steps, take more trips up and down the stairs to put away your laundry, park further away in the parking lot and make an extra trip around the mall when you go shopping. One of the things I did was download a Skype app on my phone. Now when I have weekly Skype meetings, I pace my house the entire time.
Secret Fact: This is the first time my boss, Erica, is reading about my walking Skype meetings.
Here’s the simple truth: When you’re eating more vegetables, you’re eating less crap.
I have the focus of a gnat on amphetamines, so whatever is front and centre in my fridge is what I tend to snack on throughout the day or eat for lunch. Now when I go grocery shopping, the moment I come home, I wash and cut up veggies and give them a front row seat at eye level, so when I open the fridge, it’s the first thing I see.
Also, add frozen kale to your smoothies. I swear on my life you can’t taste it.
Years ago when my son was six months old, I was exhausted—bone-crushingly, can’t-keep-my-eyes-open, exhausted. Everyone told me it was because I was a new, sleep-deprived mom, even my doctor. For four months I walked around in a zombie-like state, and the simplest things left me exhausted and wanting to sleep for hours. I finally went to a clinic where they did a blood test that determined my B12 levels were extremely low. Six months of B12 shots did the trick and I’ve been fine ever since.
You know your body better than anyone else - listen to it.
Learn to understand the difference between being sore from working out and being in pain, or being tired from not sleeping and being completely exhausted. Check your body when you shower and look for lumps in your breasts, changes in moles, or anything that may seem “off.”
Your body is the most important thing you have. Take care of it.
Like you, I know many people who have had cancer. Some have survived while others have passed on, all of whom I loved. I used to think cancer was about “bad genes” and there wasn’t much I could do to control getting it. While there are some risks I can’t do anything about, there are other factors I can control.
Did you know that as many as half of all cancers in Ontario could be prevented by eliminating known risk factors. Half!
Cancer Care Ontario has created an online cancer risk assessment where you can learn your risk of getting breast, cervical, colorectal, and lung cancer.
It only takes ten minutes to complete the My CancerIQ questionnaire (I did mine standing up at my desk) and you’ll not only learn your risk factors, you can get the information you need to help focus on specific changes you can make to lower your own cancer risk.
And I know you have ten minutes because you’re sitting here reading this, right?
When’s the last time you had a big belly laugh, the kind where you can’t breathe and tears are streaming down your face, or even just a laugh over something silly with your husband or a friend. Lack of sleep, stress, deadlines, work, your kids arguing...all of it can add up to:
As we get older we tend to laugh less. I’m no doctor but I do know the more I laugh and smile, the better I feel. Plus, laughing is calorie-free, costs no money, and is better than caffeine for an afternoon pick-me-up. And at the end of the day, I guarantee nobody ever looked back on their life and wished they had laughed less.
Now go use the Cancer Risk Assessment and then Google Will Ferrell bloopers.
It’s good for your health.
With electronics always within arms’ reach it’s sometimes hard to encourage kids to get out and be active.
Adventure walks are just that - a simple and inexpensive way to turn an ordinary walk with your family into a fun way to disconnect from tech and reconnect with nature. The walks can take place anywhere; in your neighbourhood, at a local park, or you can drive to an area with trails and go for a hike.
The adventure twist is that you tell your kids you’re going for a walk but don’t tell them where you’re going.
To help make your walk a success, ensure every family member is wearing comfortable walking shoes, weather appropriate clothing, sunscreen, and each of you has water. Nothing can ruin a walk faster than sore feet and a parched mouth.
Now that you’re ready to go, check out these fun activities to help your kids get back to nature.
Items To Have On Hand:
Have your kids use the magnifying glass to inspect the trunk of a tree. Look for cracks in the bark to see if they can spot any bugs hiding.
After they’ve inspected the bark, use the crayons and paper to do a rubbing. Simply place the paper against the trunk and rub the crayon over top until the bark pattern appears. Have them do this with different species of trees and compare rubbings to see if there is a difference in the bark.
As you walk, have your children collect different varieties of leaves (and place them into the plastic bag). At home, make arrangements and put the paper overtop and rub with a crayon. Use different leaves and colours to create unique pictures.
Pressed flowers and leaves are a beautiful way to preserve nature and can be used to create unique crafts– from everything from bookmarks to note cards.
Have your children collect leaves and flowers that are dry but not wilted. At home find a large book, open to the centre, and place a piece newspaper over the open pages. Place a piece of tissue paper on top of the newspaper then place the flowers/leaves on top of the tissue paper. Cover the flowers/leaves with another piece of tissue paper then fold the newspaper over top. Close the book and place another book or heavy object on top (a heavy rock or brick works well). Within two to four weeks you’ll have beautifully pressed plants.
It’s time to stop talking the talk and start walking the active walk. Make today the day you have an amazing adventure with your kids!