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A Beginner’s Guide to Getting Healthy

Feel like a novice when it comes to getting healthy? Then this beginner’s guide is for you.

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Under crushing responsibility, it’s tempting for the single mom to put our health on hold. After all, we’re strong and have family to care for, career demands, household maintenance, and often those pesky legal issues. However, with balanced attention to your own health, you can do everything else more efficiently and effectively. Be well to live well. One of the best gifts you give yourself and your child is a healthy you. 

Get Healthy With These Simple Shifts

You may be wondering, what do I have to do to start getting healthy? Here are simple shifts you can easily make to quickly achieve positive results. 

Adequate Water Intake

Our bodies are made predominantly of fluid, and staying hydrated improves brain function when we most need to think clearly. The brain, heart, lungs, muscles, and skin are 60 percent water, while bones are 30 percent. Water nourishes skin and hair, and increases productivity of body systems.

Having headaches? For many, a headache indicates you are dehydrated. Reaching for snacks throughout the day? Drink water instead. It’s common to interpret thirst for hunger. Feeling constipated? Adequate water can get things moving again.

With all the lovely refillable bottles in vogue, tanking up on water for your health is easy. And, additional trips to the bathroom get you up and walking. Keep your 32-ounce water bottle nearby and drink one in the morning, another after lunch, and a third in the evening for a 96 ounce intake. 

Find an accountability partner you can text each day with the number of ounces you drank. Because I don’t want to fail in front of a friend, this accountability brings fast results. Soon, drinking water becomes a natural, automatic, and healthy rhythm in your days which is vital to improving your health.

Ditch Sugar

Choose water over soft drinks. Crunch on vegetables, fruit, and nuts instead of sugary snacks. I know, when is the last time you had a craving for celery and carrot sticks, or kale salad? Cheetos maybe, and definitely vitamin Ms (M&Ms). There was a time when my motto was never run out of vitamin Ms. 

According to Dr. Angela LaSalle, Director of Integrative Medicine at Parkview, Fort Wayne, sugar has addictive qualities similar to cocaine. That explains the cravings, and why it can initially take some determination to make healthy food choices. Typically, the cravings for sweets subsides in two weeks. Spikes and drops in blood sugar levels trigger a physical and emotional rollercoaster, but there’s more. 

LaSalle explained that sugar goes through our system like a wire brush, causing leaky gut where the stuff that is supposed to pass through and out of our intestines, instead leaks into our body. No wonder you don’t feel your best. Additionally, that wire brush roughs the inside of blood vessels. Like a mother covering a scrape with a bandage, our body quickly applies plaque. And plaque buildup leads to heart attack and stroke. Knowing this, fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds suddenly look delish. 

Go Outdoors 

Getting outside is a fun and easy way to get healthy. Even five minutes makes a difference. The fresh air and broader vistas expand our lungs and mood. Studies show that people who get outdoors each day experience less depression and more resilience. Double the impact if you can get outdoors by water near a fountain, stream, pond, lake, or beach. 

On a break at work, step outside. Children adore going outdoors, so make this time to be together. For those of us in the colder climes, there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing. Bundle up. The cost-free benefits physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually are priceless.

Get Moving 

Move, move, move your body. Make your goal to do something active for at least a half hour five days each week. What is the very best exercise of all? The one you will do. Mix it up. Tap into the unlimited online videos with myriad exercise routines. You know you’ve always wanted to learn the Footloose dance moves. Jog on a bouncer, or stretch and walk in place while watching a movie with your child. Bike, roller skate, jump rope, hop scotch, hoola hoop, play ping pong, shoot hoops, bat a ball. Play tag or chase the dog when he has the ball around the furniture until everyone is laughing and breathless. One mom ran for one minute. The next day she ran two minutes. Eventually she ran a marathon.

Vacuuming, washing windows, mopping, laundry, yardwork, gardening, and cooking are ways to be active and make your living spaces peaceful. Gently teach your child how to do these tasks alongside you and have fun together.

Your body needs physical activity. So does your child. Being active promotes digestion, better moods, improved brain function and reasoning, and brings deeper sleep. 

Go to Bed

Speaking of sleep, set a regular bedtime so you sleep seven to eight hours every night. When we function on little sleep, we carry the deficit until we make up what is needed. Trouble sleeping? Turn off all media and screens at least one hour before bed. Waking frequently? Balance blood sugar with a bedtime snack of protein, fat, and carbohydrates. This could be a half a tuna sandwich, peanut butter on a banana, almonds and raisins, hummus and crackers, or oatmeal with cream. 

Give yourself restorative rest or exhaustion quickly sabotages your abilities. Anything less than these recommendations result in compromised immune systems, reduced focus, and emotional outbursts.

  • Babies to one-year-olds: 12 to 15 hours
  • One to three-year-olds: 12 to 14 hours
  • Four to six-year-olds: 10 to 12 hours
  • Seven to 12-year-olds: 10 to 11 hours
  • Teens through adult: 8 to 9 hours

Begin With Ten

Carve ten minutes daily to reconnect through prayer and Bible reading. Read a chapter of the Bible and pray. This is a life-building tradition to do with your child. 


Weekly do something that refreshes your soul. Retreat from constant stimulus. Give yourself the gift of quiet for 15 minutes each day. Teach your child to spend 15 minutes quietly with books or toys. Rejuvenate with uplifting music, audio books, and podcasts. The traditional practice of Sabbath comes from the Ten Commandments where God instructs us to weekly pause from work to do that which refreshes our soul. What refreshes you?


Even in sorrow and grief, laughter brings healing relief. Laughing is good medicine for you and your family. If it’s been a while since you laughed, listen to clean comedy, watch a funny film, or get silly with your child. 

Treat Yourself Gently 

When your self-talk is something you would not say to another, shift the conversation to strictly positive words. Talk to yourself as kindly as you do to someone you value.

Miscellaneous Tips to Get Healthy

  • Strengthen your stressed immune system with 500 mg of vitamin C daily. Add in a multivitamin for you and your child.
  • Brush and floss often. Carry a toothbrush, paste, and floss in your purse for use away from home. Your mouth is close to your brain and the doorway to your body, so teeth and gum health affect the rest of you. 

For additional health tips, see The Ten Best Decisions A Single Mom Can Make.

Check out articles on Single Mom Circle by Susan U. Neal.


Meet PeggySue

We’ve heard of soccer moms and stage mothers. I’m a writer who trailers my kids and horses across the nation. My Apple computer, fondly christened MacBeth, is the essential I bring along.