Mia Hamm had no regrets when she decided to retire from her decorated soccer career in order to start a family.
"I felt in my heart I was ready to make that transition," said the two-time Olympic gold medalist, continuing, "I was emotionally ready to be a mom."
Despite having been an elite athlete, Hamm experienced most of the same challenges every busy mother faces when it comes to finding the time and energy to eat right and stay fit.
Hint: it's no easier for her than it is for other moms.
Hamm believes that a key to wellness in any arena is structure.
"When you're playing at a high level, your coach structures your day. You don't have to think about diet and exercise," she said.
Hamm explained that now she has to be her own "coach," saying, "As a busy mom, I do have to think about managing diet and exercise. And I have to remind myself that my family's well-being depends on my own state of wellness."
Hamm considers wellness to be a balance between physical, mental and emotional fitness.
Understand how those elements pull at one another," she said, "and you'll have a better chance at getting the balance you need in your life."
Having the courage and energy to seek and find that balance can be tough. It's natural to sacrifice for your kids, but parents need to maintain their own wellness, too. Sacrificing time and energy to your own detriment can be harmful - taking care of yourself isn't selfish when it helps you better care for your family.
Registered Nutritionist Tracy Owens, of Triangle Nutrition Therapies, agrees with Hamm's tips, adding that balance begins with eating healthy foods.
Owens, also a board certified specialist in sports dietetics and a Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina in-network provider, says that "eating healthy food most of the time brings vitality, because it has the power to fuel, energize and transform health."
Owens then assures parents that caring for themselves is not a selfish act. "One of the most beneficial things parents can do for their children is make healthy food choices for themselves so they can maintain their own strength, energy and focus."
Prioritizing your own wellness creates a good example for your daughters and sons, and it will help you find the energy to perform in the most demanding and rewarding "sport" of all -- being a parent.
Owens suggests learning more about healthy eating with the following links:
- Eating Well: Where Good Taste Meets Good Health
- Cooking Light: Inspired Recipes
- MyPlate Recipes on Pinterest
This story was written for our sponsor, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina.