In honor of National Wear Red Day and the #GoRedForWomen campaign, I want to share my personal health journey and a few things I think you should do to make sure your health is really a priority. My mother is stroke survivor, and I lost my grandmother, uncle and aunt to strokes and heart disease. Needless to say, I want to do whatever I can to prevent a stroke in my own future, and to help all women make healthier choices in their lives. 

My health is a priority!

How many of us say that, whether it’s out loud or to ourselves? I know I have–countless times. And although it’s a great thing to say, are your actions in alignment with your intentions? Do you follow through? Do you eat well? Do you sleep enough? Do you keep toxic people out of your life? Do you exercise? In the past, my answers to these questions have been big fat NOs. Ask me today and I can say YES to every single question.

If you say your health matters but you actions say otherwise, you are just as bad as the person who’s willing to admit that her health isn’t a top priority. As a matter of fact, she’s doing better than you are. At least she’s being honest with herself.

I’m going to share something with you that all my closest friends know. I have struggled with my weight for most of my life. It started off with being chubby in elementary school, and it snowballed into a lifelong issue. I successfully lost weight in my early twenties, and I wish I could tell you that the battle ended then, but it didn’t.

If you have struggled with your weight, you know what I mean. The struggle with weight never ends, it just shifts. You start off struggling to lose weight, but even when you lose it, you haven’t really won. You just shift your energy, so now the struggle is no longer about losing–it’s about keeping the weight off.

I gained weight after having my kids, but they are 6 and 4 now. How long can your really blame your kids for the extra weight (although I actually am pregnant with my third so I get to blame the baby for a few months!). The truth is, I’m an emotional eater. That’s why my weight has always been a struggle. If I’m feeling sad, a pint of ice cream does the trick. Feeling like I failed at something? Let’s bake a few cookies! Overwhelmed and stressed out? Salt and vinegar chips will make things better. I suppose it’s better than drinking or drugs, but let’s not fool ourselves into thinking it’s a healthy way to cope.

It’s not. Even before we bite into that chip, we know it’s the wrong choice.

The only healthy way to cope with anything life throws your way is to face it, process your emotions, and make a choice about how you will move on. Sometimes that means going to therapy (I’ve been there). Sometimes it means talking things through with a close friend (been there, too). Processing emotions means different things for different people, but food just isn’t the answer. As good as it tastes, it won’t fix what’s wrong.

Is it easy to deal with what’s really going on? HELL NO! It’s hard. Eating a brownie sundae is a lot easier. But dealing with what’s really going on is the healthiest thing to do, and it will result in much happier days.

I am pregnant so losing weight is not a focus for me right now, but I am focused on paying close attention to how much I gain, my blood pressure, and my blood sugar (I’m in my third trimester and everything looks great!). I also know that after my baby is born, my wellness goals will be about much more than weight loss. I want more energy. I want to keep up with my kids. I want to be free of the bloating and stomach aches. I want beautiful skin. I want to complete a 5k with my son and daughters one day. I want to live a healthier, happier life–and as a ACE-certified Health Coach, I want to help other women do the same.

So if you say your health is a priority and you are ready to truly mean it, here are 5 things you need to do:

Go see your physician

Please don’t neglect your health. Avoiding physicals and other recommended exams is just asking for trouble. Leave Dr. Google alone and go see a doctor in real life to talk about your concerns and to make sure you health is in order.

Get your mind right

Your mental and emotional health are just as important as your physical health. I wish more people would get that. Even if you are in perfect physical health, if you have a nervous breakdown, you won’t be any good to anyone. Meditation, regular prayer, therapy, counseling, and writing are just a few examples of things you can do to manage your mental health.

Start moving

There is no way around this. You have to move. I don’t care how thin or overweight you are, you need to move your body to protect your heart. With today being National Wear Red Day, it’s the perfect opportunity to educate yourself about why you need to do more to take care of your health and your heart. #LifeIsWhy #FamilyIsWhy 

Show yourself some love

Stop doing everything for everyone and putting your needs last. You deserve to take time for yourself (and it’s good for your health). Take a warm bath, read a book, call a friend, visit the spa, do whatever it is that makes you feel special, relaxed, and reenergized.

Eat to nourish your body

I love sweets. I also love Caribbean, Mexican, and Italian food. But do you know what I love more than all of these things? My life. Listen, I am not suggesting a life without indulging. That’s crazy. You won’t see me giving up my rice and beans or pizza. But can I eat that stuff every day? Nope. I just can’t. Fair or not, it is what it is. So although I want you to eat what you love, I also want you to learn how to love foods that will help you live a longer life.

If you need some help with developing healthier, happier habits, I want you to join my FREE 7-Day Healthier, Happier Habits Email Course. Throughout the course, I share tips and resources to help you make healthier choices and live a happier life.