Denial is a funny thing.
There were several signs that indicated I needed to take some action about changing my habits and improving my overall health. I chose to ignore most of those signs, giving myself excuse after excuse: I just don’t have time to exercise; there was a vegetable on my plate at dinner, so it was a healthy meal; my only real vice was soda and it was my crutch, especially when times become tough caring for my son. My favorite excuse was that I’m a hemo mom – I only have to take care of everyone else, not me.
But as many excuses as I threw out there, there were equal signs saying, “Do Something.” A wellness committee formed at my children’s school; HFA launched Get in Gear; I exhibited some straight-up addictive symptoms to soda; my blood pressure was high; I barely was able to hike out of a canyon on a field trip with my daughter. Then there were all these wonderful pictures of my friends – my blood brothers – guys with hemophilia who were biking, climbing mountains, and running marathons. It finally dawned on me that if those guys can keep themselves healthy and active, then I have no business not to do the same. This was my light bulb moment and I decided to make a change.
I started small by making gradual changes. I know that if I tried to make too many changes at once I wouldn’t be able to stick with it. Over a year ago, I stopped drinking soda on a daily basis (I still have one once in awhile, but previously I was a six can a day kind of gal). Without any other dietary changes or adding any activity, I lost 15 pounds. Next I decided to dust off the treadmill I bought myself as a birthday present about five years ago. My primary goal that first day was not dying or throwing up. My secondary goal was to walk for 20 minutes every other day and stop telling myself that I didn’t have time. I downloaded the HFA Get in the Gear app and logged in my activity.
The first few days were hard and I almost didn’t stick with it, but then I texted a dear friend – one of those aforementioned active hemo guys. I swallowed all my pride and told him what I was up to and that his active lifestyle had encouraged and inspired me to get off the couch. It was a life changing text. I don’t have the extra income to afford a personal trainer to push me onto that treadmill, but in my friend, I found the most personal of personal trainers. He is the best training coach money can’t buy. He cares about me and wants to see me do well. I don’t want to disappoint him, so I am even more motivated to keep moving.
Three weeks into a regular exercise routine and healthier eating habits and another 8 pounds were shed. I found that I began to actually like the treadmill and began increasing my distance and difficulty. Healthy eating wasn’t as hard as I had imagined and even more astonishing was that the kids started modeling the choices I was making. This past weekend, I surprised myself and did a 10K (6.2 miles) on the treadmill and have lost 43 pounds over the last two years. I’m still no fitness expert or advanced runner, but at least I’m moving and feeling better.
I’ve heard plenty of experts talk and have read lots of articles about health, nutrition and exercise; frankly, they have irritated me for years. Ultimately what spurred me into taking care of myself came down to two things: wanting a healthier life so I can be a good mom to my kids and turning to the bleeding disorders community for inspiration and support.
Aren’t those the two things that really define us most as moms — wanting the best for our families and leaning on our friends for support? If you, too, find you are making too many excuses, then consider a healthy lifestyle as a directive and responsibility to your family. Call or text a friend to be your cheerleader and take some time for yourself for a healthy lifestyle.
Sonji Wilkes was born and raised in North Carolina, where during high school, she developed an appreciation for volunteerism and community service. She graduated Magna Cum Laude with a BA in Behavioral Science from the Metropolitan State College of Denver in 2001. Sonji volunteers extensively in the bleeding disorders community and was selected as the 2006 National Hemophilia Foundation’s Volunteer of the Year. Sonji, her husband Nathan, and three children: Nora (11), Thomas (9), and Natalie (7), currently reside in Colorado.
*Note: “Infusing Love: A Mom’s View,” is a blog collection of personal opinions and a representation of individuals experiences. While extensive efforts are made to ensure accuracy of the content, the blog entries do not represent HFA or its Board of Directors. The blog is also not intended to be construed as medical advice or the official opinion/position of HFA, its staff, or its Board of Directors. Readers are strongly encouraged to discuss their own medical treatment with their healthcare providers.