As part of our 2021 Ohio Valley Women of Impact campaign, each participant is sharing their story as to why they are participating in the event. This is the first entry from Lauren Hersey.
3 Things That I wish I Would Have Known Sooner About Women’s Wellness
By Lauren Hersey
Can you remember a time in your life when you wished someone would have warned you about what was to come? Then the thoughts start racing around in your head thinking about all the potholes of life that could have been avoided if you had only known better. Maybe a little round of the blame game comes next. If my mom, my friend, or insert any another name that comes to mind would have prepared me, life could have been so much easier. Yep, we have all been there. That’s why I’m going to put on my best supportive mom hat and deliver the 3 Things That I Wish I Would have known sooner about Women’s Wellness.
If you’re wondering at this point what makes me qualified to deliver these 3 impactful lessons, remember I’m just filling in for your mom, sister, significant other or someone that loves you very much. I’m not a doctor, dietician, or a specialist. I’m just a girl who learned some lessons the hard way, trying to pay it forward so others don’t have to.
I’m Lauren. I was recently nominated as 1 of 5 spectacular Women of Impact in our area by the American Heart Association. I was certainly flattered when I got the news.
This was right up my ally! I am beyond passionate about helping women personally and professionally advance and find balance in their sometimes-hectic lives. I practically devote all my free time to this worthwhile cause.
Have you ever heard the saying those that can’t do, teach? I wouldn’t go as far as saying I can’t do Balance, but I have worked long and hard to create systems and workarounds to show up and be present in my life. Oftentimes as women our lives are massively out of balance. The needs of everyone and everything else take priority leaving us feeling stressed, tired, and frustrated. By the way, it’s okay to admit feeling overwhelmed, we all have been there. That brings me to the first of many things I wish I would have known sooner.
ADMITTING THERE IS A PROBLEM: “I’m fine, Its Fine, We Are All Fine”. This is lady code for we are definitely not fine. If a woman says she is “super” all bets are off. Here is the thing, minimizing or sweeping problems under the rug does not fix anything. What happens is those suppressed problems pop up again and again in our lives, oftentimes as physical ailments. One of which is heart disease and stroke in women. Did you know that heart disease is actually the number 1 killer of women? Scary, right? The good news is, it doesn’t have to bet that way. 80% of these diseases can be prevented by taking better care of our mind, body and spirit.
SELF-CARE IS NOT SELF-ISH: I bet you might be thinking that nobody really has time for self-care. This is unless you married into a wealthy family, hit the lottery or you have become a total boss running your own business. That’s simply not true. Neither are some of our perceptions about self-care. In a conversation about self-care last week someone actually said “self-care…like sitting on a beach with a margarita, right?”. I followed it up with “it might just be a glass of wine on your porch”. You get the gist. Self-care does not have to be defined as exclusively being by yourself at a spa or on a beach (even though that does sound dreamy). Self-care is defined as “the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own wellbeing and happiness”. Essentially it all boils down to a feeling. Its feels good to feel good. How can you take a sliver of time out of your busy life to take care of yourself?
THE BIG THREE: Ready to ditch feeling bad? If you’re really ready I’m going to break down a few things that have MAJORLY improved how I feel on a day-to-day basis. It really boils down to Diet, Exercise and lowering your blood pressure. For me, blood pressure was tied directly to minimizing stress.
• Diet: Is it just me or does Diet feels like a dirty word? It’s probably because fad diets were introduced to us at way to young of an age. We are conditioned to think that if a diet is effective that it must be hard. At least, that’s what I thought until about 5 years ago. I was overweight and struggled to maintain a healthy weight for most of my life. The day I threw fad diets out the window and stopped stressing out about my weight everything changed. I spent more time focusing on how I felt instead of the number on the scale. I did bloodwork and started listening to my body and I mean really listening. I kicked soda, reduced carbs and ate all things in moderation. That shift along with drinking more water helped me to dramatically feel better. That newfound energy also fueled my body enough to start a workout routine.
• Exercise: When in the world could I possibly exercise? The age-old question that you may not like the answer to. I started a daily morning routine by just getting up 30-60 minutes earlier. During this little slice of heaven, I’m selfish and I only worry about me. Exercise doesn’t mean anything scary or hard. I define it as moving your body more today than you did yesterday.
• Stress Less and Get More: If you want to lower your blood pressure I highly recommend stressing less. Sounds easy, right? Wrong. We all have so many “plates in the air at any given time”. Sometimes life feels hard but the harder you push the harder it feels. Start by surrendering the outcome. Stop trying to do everything, fix everything and be everything to everyone. Once you do that, use that morning routine to develop a plan for your day your week and even you’re your year. Perhaps, make a to do list with the 3 most important things you need to do today. After those are done, celebrate the win with a little me time.
I know that I could never fill the role of your mom, sister or best friend. The support and unconditional love that they bring to our lives is priceless. There are hundreds of things I wish I would have known sooner. Taking better care of myself tops the list because when I’m good I can take better care of those around me. If you are ready to start feeling better, then join me in starting the movement that Self-Care is Not Self-ish. We are fighting for Women’s Health like our Lives Depend on It… Because they do.
to learn about this year’s nominees and support the woman of your choice!
Kevin is the Communications Director for West Virginia and Western Virginia. When not in the office, Kevin is an active performer with the State 35 Comedy Troupe and is the founding member of the Ghostbusters – WV Division fundraising team. He has been with the organization since 2005.