Why I Decided to Take Care of ME

Let's Encourage Each Other to Make Ourselves A Priority

jessica holmes taking care of yourself

A funny thing happened on the way to the fridge…

A friend recently commented “I would be so much healthier if I ate what I fed my kids!” So true for SO many of us!!  How many times have I found myself making the most amazing veggie & fruit snacks for my two vibrant kids, ages 4 and 6, while obliviously surviving on bread crusts and coffee myself? Or signing the kids up for a dozen sports and dance classes, while cobwebs grow on my gym-bag? Literally. Spiders lived there. Sometimes I forget I’m somebody’s kid too! Moms are my heroes. We do it all for our families. But there’s a price to letting our well-being slip out of the picture…

A survey was commissioned by Becel, the founding sponsor of the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s The Heart Truth campaign, which found that 70 percent of Canadian moms don’t put themselves in their top three priorities, and 60 percent don’t feel they have enough time to take care of themselves. With heart disease and stroke a leading cause of death for Canadian women, this kind of thinking is just not an option. Putting heart health aside thinking “I’ll get to it when my kids move out,” may just be too late. 

I was like the majority of moms, ranking my own health well below “brush the cat” and “sort storage containers,” and the cost was my well-being. A few years ago, I was winded walking up a flight of stairs, suffering energy peaks and crashes from eating irregularly and not getting near enough nutrition. I was so dutiful in my obligations to family and work that I fell off the radar. Mom-ing is meant to be fun, but I was too run-down to enjoy it. One day I was watching my kids laugh, and I remembered my grandmother Yvonne’s laugh. She was so much fun—always adopting mangy stray pets, buying way too many sweets, and letting us tear up her house with our shenanigans. I wished she could be there to know my kids.  She passed away in her early sixties of heart failure. I thought; “will I be there when my kids grow up? Will I have the energy and spark to shine my light for them?” I know I want to be around for my kids well into the future and wanted to feel healthy again.

My food & fitness makeover had a false start. I was way too ambitious with my goals like “run a marathon next month,” “live on salads” and “be on the cover of a fitness magazine by Christmas.” I had to be realistic. I still wanted quality time with my family and to keep my career going. So I started over, this time with smaller, more sustainable changes. These included:

  Walking the kids to school instead of driving, even though it costs me an extra (GASP) five minutes each morning!

  Instead of trying to diet, I have started to look at the diet choices I make creatively. I realize that by playing with new recipes and incorporating new vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and good fats can be even more delicious than I’ve ever known. What a treat!

  At restaurants, I still order whatever main course I had in mind, but FIRST order a plate of veggies as an appetizer (it’s never on the menu, but every place I’ve been to will honour this request and create a little masterpiece). It helps curb your appetite. 

  Mixing social & sport! My pals and I joined some women’s teams together (basketball and soccer). We laugh our heads off between sweating up and down the gym.  We’re all feeling the benefits our fitness has on our mood, health and kids…and sex life (I know, TMI—but it’s true)

  Focusing on a diet that is low in saturated and trans fats (goodbye chips, hello popcorn with Becel margarine).

  Not drinking my calories! Juice has barely any of the fibre of eating real fruit, so drink water, or watered down juice, and snack on actual fruit. Yeah, real, whole fruit!  It’s like being six again!! 

  Eating smaller meals throughout the day so I don’t have energy peaks and crashes. 

  Instituting Meatless Mondays are a great way to have variety—do grilled veggie burritos or tempeh with applesauce instead of the same old same old. 

These tips may sound elementary, but the results speak for themselves. My blood pressure is “excellent” to quote my doctor, I don’t feel 107 when I get out of bed each morning, I lost weight, and greatest reward of all: I don’t get exhausted playing with my kids. The most important thing I’ve learned about wellness is that every tiny change you make counts!! Ten minutes of freestyle dance in your living room here, veggies instead of fries there, a little moderation and some stair-climbing, and within a few months I could feel the difference, and so could my family. The amazing truth is: a woman can reduce her risk of heart disease and stroke by up to 80 percent through healthy lifestyle choices. Taking time to take care of yourself too can ultimately mean you give more QUALITY TIME to the kids. So in big picture thinking, it’s a great change to make. 

But we guilt-ridden moms find it counter-intuitive to put the words “me” and “time” together—we seem to need justification for putting ourselves in the front of our minds.  The answer lies in encouraging each other to make ourselves a priority. The Becel survey also found that moms would be more likely to spend time taking care of themselves if another mother encouraged them to do so. This video at becel.ca/encourageamom is a quick and beautiful way to remind moms that the best thing they can do for their kids is to take care of themselves, too. Send it out to the moms you know and share your personal message of encouragement today. Moms are so powerful, and we can really make a difference for each other and ourselves. :) Now turn off the computer, put on some dance music, make enough fruit salad for the kids AND yourself! 

Encourage a Mom to take care of herself today! 

In its role as founding sponsor of the Heart and Stroke Foundation's The Heart Truth™ campaign, Becel wants to empower moms and encourage them to prioritize their own health and well-being as much as they do for others.

To help spread this important message, Becel made this amazing video:

You can go to the Becel website to easily personalize and send the video to moms in your life to remind them to take care of themselves too!

Encourage a Mom today!

She’ll thank you for it. And so do we!



Comedic Entertainer & Improviser

Jessica Holmes, a favourite on CBC’s Royal Canadian Air Farce, has brought the house down opening for such comedians as Jerry Seinfeld, Leslie Nielsen and Ellen DeGeneres. She always leaves audiences in stitches with her interactive humour and vivacious energy. She recently performed in two televised comedy specials at Just for Laughs and the Winnipeg Comedy Festival.

Her one-hour comedy special, “Holmes Alone” won a 2001 Platinum Award at the Worldfest International Film Festival and was nominated for a Gemini Award. Her work on the Second City production “The Best of the Very Last” earned her a nomination for the prestigious Tim Sims Scholarship. Holmes is also known for her work on The Comedy Network and CTV’s hilarious, edgy, Carol Burnett-style sketch comedy, The Holmes Show. She has appeared in such films as Welcome to Mooseport and Citizen Duane. Additionally, Holmes’ motivational comedy book, I Love Your Laugh, was published in October 2010.

Holmes’ comedic high jinks and crazy antics, her knack for skewering celebrities such as Céline Dion and Britney Spears, along with her original creations, amuse even the most straight-faced audiences. Her grace, bilingualism, and ability to react on the fly make her a natural choice for M.C. Whether hosting or performing her hilarious characters, Holmes always leaves the audience in stitches. 

In 2011, Holmes studied to become a Wellness Coach, and now mixes humour with a message about de-stressing and laughing at life’s shortcomings. She was recently invited to host the Toronto stop of Oprah’s Lifeclass: The Tour. Jessica speaks with humanity, intelligence and humour on her own experiences dealing with post-partum depression, finding work/life balance, and re-igniting passion.