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Whether you're an insomniac or just don't feel rested in the morning, quality sleep can be hard to come by.
- •Keep the same hours every nightOur bodies love a good rhythm. Bedtimes aren't just for children! You should go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. If you are a true insomniac you should be strict with yourself on this one and stick to your schedule even on weekends and vacations
- •Wind downAfter a day of running around and dealing with all sorts of stresses, your mind and body need time to relax. Read a book, knit, journal, sudoku, do something that is quiet and centering for you
- •ShhhhIf you have a roommate who comes in late, or leaves early, or if you have a loud pet or lots of street noise, these can mess with your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. See if there are any changes you can make in your home. Get the dog out of the bed, set some quiet hours with the roommate, etc. If you have noise you can't avoid, try a white noise maker (there are free apps online) or wear ear plugs
- •MultivitaminMost people with no diet restrictions do not need to take a multivitamin. But if you have a restrictive diet like if you are vegan or have food allergies like a gluten allergy then you may be missing out on some essential vitamins and should take a multivitamin every day. There isn't a big difference between different brands or formulations so just pick any one that floats your boat!
- •Prenatal vitaminsSome experts say that all women who are capable of getting pregnant (meaning they have their period) should be on a prenatal vitamin, even if they are on birth control. As a woman I've always found this offensive—like people just assume I can't reliably take birth control. —Yet, like most women, I've missed a pill or two in the past, so I can't come down hard on either side of this argument. It's something for you to decide for yourself.
- •IronIron supplements are kind of miserable to take. They make you constipated and they taste bad. They are used to treat anemia. The biggest source of iron is red meat. Green leafy vegetables are a good source too. If you don't eat red meat or you have really heavy periods, you may want your doctor to check your blood levels for anemia, especially if you feel tired a lot. Infants can become anemic if they do not eat iron rich foods, many doctors check for this at the 12 month checkup.
There are no easy answers when it comes to weight loss. There is a reason there are so many fad diets and products on the market. Here are some tools to use as you build the body you want while embracing the body you have.
- •Know your ideal weight rangeCalculate your BMI (Body Mass Index) using a BMI chart or calculator. Then look at the weights for a BMI of 19-25 for your height. For my height the range is 100-132 pounds. I could never be healthy at 100 lbs. my build puts me at the high end of the range, which is perfectly healthy. If you are anywhere in the normal range weight loss need not be your goal. If you are above the normal range for your height, calculate how much weight you need to lose to get to a BMI of 25.
- •Set a realistic goalSafe weight loss is MAX 1-2 pounds per week. Rapid weight loss is usually unhealthy and results in rebound weight gain. This is a marathon, not a sprint. See how many weeks you need to lose weight safely. This may seem daunting when you think about the amount of time, but focus on the weekly goal—heck, my weight fluctuates by 1-2 pounds from morning to night—losing that in a week feels much more doable.
- •Count but don't countIf you are anything like me, calorie counting quickly becomes obsessive. At first it's fun but after a few days I'm counting almonds and looking up the calories in basil. It becomes so central to my day I'm miserable. Instead calculate the recommended calories per day for your size (there are tons of calculators online) and know the approximate calories of foods you eat regularly. Be aware of your calorie intake and if you are over or under-shooting you goal, but don't let it run your life.
Maybe your goal is to cut back on or come off of medication, or maybe you just want to be healthier. Either way, here are some things to do! (If your blood pressure is over 140/90 you should see your doctor)
- •Get to a healthy weightWeight loss is the most effective non-medication way to lower blood pressure. A healthy Body Mass Index (BMI) is between 18-25, but BMI is not accurate for people with high muscle volume. You can calculate your BMI using an online calculator.
- •Exercise regularlyStrengthen your cardiovascular system with exercise like running, jogging, biking or swimming. You should get some form of exercise most days, and 20-30 minutes of that exercise should be hard enough that you break a sweat and can't carry a conversation.
- •Cut back on saltThe western diet is high in salt due to processed foods, pre-prepared meals and restaurant food. Not all peoples blood pressures respond to cutting back on salt. The goal if you decide to try this is 2 grams (2000mg) of sodium a day—you may have to get creative with food choices, it's hard to cut back on salt on a western diet!
Things your provider will be impressed that you did
- 1.Find your OB/family doc/midwife and have a pre-conception check-upTake the time to find a provider who fits your needs and has a style and personality that works well with yours.
- 2.Take prenatal vitaminsBefore you are pregnant and in the first weeks is the most important time
- 3.Join the gym—and go regularlyWomen who are a normal weight and are active set themselves up for a healthy pregnancy. It is safe to exercise during pregnancy if you are active before you get pregnant