Each year Mother’s Day kicks off National Women’s Health Week, which inspires us to reach out to all the moms out there! In our clinic, for the past 20 years, we’ve had the opportunity to work with a wide variety of patients at all different stages of parenting. We know, from conversations we’ve had with many of you, that it can be extremely challenging to prioritize your own health and wellness – especially when it comes to fitting in regular physical activity and exercise.
As the frequent CEO of the home front – which often translates to being chauffeur, chef, referee, doctor and therapist, and includes managing everyone’s plans and schedules – it can certainly be daunting to add even one more thing to the day’s agenda.
This is where having a goal comes into play!
When it comes to physical activity and movement, the beauty of having a goal in place (especially one that’s written down and displayed where you see it often throughout the day), is that it doesn’t require any extra mental energy to plan for.
As physical therapists, we consistently find that people who have an exercise routine in place that is based upon a time-oriented goal (whether that is yearly, quarterly, monthly or even weekly) are more successful when it comes to staying physically active and healthy. The reality is, without an established goal, relying on the idea that we will simply squeeze in a workout when we have time, well … we RARELY “find the time.” This is especially true for moms, who easily get lost taking care of everyone else in the family.
A case study – Getting Mom moving!
We’ve been fortunate to work with a lot of moms over the years, and success stories abound. About a year ago, a working mom – we’ll call her Julie – came to us for help. Before having kids, Julie had been extremely active – from playing soccer in college to running half and full marathons. Her new chapter as a mom found her juggling her three kids’ school, sport and activities schedules while also working part-time. She had slowly lost the time, passion and energy for her own physical activity, until she was down to running or working out just once or twice a week.
As a result, Julie lost some of the strength and conditioning she had always been proud of. When she decided to try physical therapy, it was to address knee pain in both legs and back pain.
Though Julie had come to us specifically for her knee pain and back pain, for our team, it was important to dive a little deeper.
It is not uncommon for people to wonder what to expect at the first physical therapy appointment, which includes an extensive conversation in addition to a thorough physical assessment. We want to get to know each patient, beyond their pain or injury, so we can learn how their life has been impacted and what is important to them on their physical therapy journey. Additionally, we look at the body holistically, to ensure we uncover any underlying factors contributing to the problem.
As we got to know Julie through her intake, we realized a few things:
- Julie was still strong and athletic AND her joints and muscles were healthy.
- Julie was not sleeping well, doing things to manage her own stress, or eating like she wanted to.
- Julie did not have any physical activity or movement goals of her own.
With our focus on Julie, utilizing shared decision making, we created a customized plan of care to combat the pain she was having. We showed her some things she could do from a physical activity standpoint, and, more importantly, asked her to create a SMART goal for physical activity and stress management – knowing it’s more likely to find success by setting goals that matter to you.
This is the set of goals Julie came up with that was specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timebound (SMART):
- I will run or exercise 3 days per week for the next 3 months even if it’s only 10 minutes at a time.
- I will take 5 minutes for myself every day for the next three months to practice breathing, meditation, or to simply lie down by myself.
One year after Julie came to us for help, she was running four days per week and strength training two days per week. She lost 10 pounds, reported being happier and less stressed, and said she was feeling like she did 10 years earlier. Nothing changed about her circumstances – her three kids continued to keep her on her toes, and her part-time job remained one of her priorities. She simply got SMART and prioritized herself a little bit. Not only did Julie feel better herself, her children and her spouse noticed the difference in her energy and happiness at home as well!
Call to action for all the moms out there!
You can find success just like Julie did! We want you all to make a SMART goal for the next three months. Consider something that’s important to you and write down a goal that is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timebound, and get started on changing your physical activity, health, and well-being. We know by this time of year most folks have dropped off their New Year’s resolution AND it’s time to refocus and reenergize!
If you’re not sure how to get started or want to know more about Julie’s journey and how she managed to achieve such amazing success, reach out to us at Therapeutic Associates Bethany Physical Therapy or find a Therapeutic Associates clinic near you. You don’t have to have a referral to come see us, and many insurance plans cover direct access for physical therapy.
Want more? Check out the other blogs linked below or visit our blog page where you’ll find a bounty of resources!
Start your physical therapy journey today.
As physical therapists, we know the importance of movement for overall health and well-being. From injury recovery to achieving optimal performance, our passion is to help every patient reach their goals and live an active, pain-free life. Get started with PT today!