As part of our 20th anniversary celebration, we decided to declare April “Health Month.” When we started the month we said:
Throughout April, we will be raising funds to feed needy families, we will be volunteering, we will be visualizing health data, we will be sharing videos, we will be exercising, and we will be spending quality time with our kittens and puppies.
Today is the last day of April and thus the end of our first-ever “Health Month.” In honor of our 20th anniversary, I humbly present to you 20 “healthy” things that I did this month. I encourage you to think about the things you do for your physical and mental health and for the health of your community (and hey – if you’re feeling jazzy why not declare your own “Health Month” and celebrate it with your colleagues, family, and friends).
Without further adieu, I present: 20 Healthy Things in 30 Awesome Days
- I participated in the Atlanta Women’s 5K. I was eager and couldn’t wait until April to get started with “Health Month”; the Atlanta Women’s 5K was actually on March 28th but that’s close enough to April to count, right? I love 5Ks; I enjoy the crowd, the spirit, the camaraderie, the adrenaline rush, and the fact that it’s 23 miles shorter than a marathon.
- I registered for the AJC Peachtree Road Race and the Atlanta HBCU Alumni Alliance 5K. This may be hard to believe given the first two things on this list, but I’m not really much of a runner. That being said, I try to commit to doing these 2 races each year. The AJC Peachtree Road Race is a huge Atlanta tradition – a 10K that takes place on July 4th. The Atlanta HBCU Alumni Alliance 5K raises money for students attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities – alums of the schools come together for a little friendly rivalry to raise money for their schools and beat the other schools to the finish line (GO HOWARD U!).
- I booked my annual beach vacation. My family has a July 4th tradition – we run the AJC Peachtree Road Race and then we go home, hop in the shower, change clothes, and jump in the car to head to the beach for our annual family vacation (after all, we need some sort of motivation to do all that running). We booked our vacation villa for July this month. So, in my mind, I’m already on the beach relaxing, unwinding, and getting much needed rest and renewal.
- I spent quality time with my son. I have a 5-year-old son and he is pretty freaking awesome. He is also really active and FULL of energy. I spent lots of quality time with him this month doing everything from playing baseball and football to pretending to be a Power Ranger fighting crime in multiple galaxies. Running around with him is sure to keep me nice and healthy.
- I celebrated 10 years of marriage. In addition to a cool kid, I also have a pretty awesome husband. On April 9th we celebrated 10 years of marriage. It turns out that marriage is pretty good for your health. We’re looking forward to many more years of love, happiness, and health.
- I went on walks in the park. I sit behind a computer for long stretches of time during the day. Sometimes I really just need to get up, get outside and enjoy nature (after I’ve taken a nice dose of allergy meds; the pollen in April in Atlanta is reminiscent of The Blob). This month, I took advantage of the warmer weather and took lots of leisurely strolls to clear my mind and get my body moving.
- I danced. My husband is a musician and a music lover. Music is almost always playing in our house. It is not rare for a full-on dance party to break out in our living room on a random Wednesday evening. Dancing is fun and liberating, gets our hearts pumping, and helps us work up a good sweat. My son and I are working on giving Bruno Mars and his Uptown Funk crew a run for their money. Don’t believe me? Just watch!
- I laughed. I like to have fun and I really like to laugh. I love the kind of laughter that makes your stomach hurt. I laughed a lot this month and I plan to laugh even more next month!
- I spent time with my family and friends. I love my family and my friends. They restore my energy, make me laugh (See #8), listen to me, offer advice when I need it, and inspire me because they are constantly doing such amazing things. This month, I spent a lot of time talking to my friends near and far and I got to enjoy time with family members who visited us during their Spring Breaks.
- I rode roller coasters. My brother-in-law and his beautiful family came to visit us this month and the first place they wanted to go was Six Flags. As a good host, I felt obliged to conquer at least a few of the coasters in the park. Few things give your heart as good of a workout as plunging down an insanely high hill at top speeds.
- I ate a funnel cake. While at Six Flags, I indulged in a funnel cake…and it was yuuummmmyyy! It made me happy. Beyond that, there was probably a pretty good dose of folate in the dough. While I won’t attempt to argue any other nutritional benefits of my funnel cake, it did remind me that it’s okay to treat ourselves occasionally. Moderation is the key. To balance my funnel cake, I had some pretty amazing Brussels sprouts the next day that made my insides feel nice, happy, and healthy.
- I ate frozen yogurt. By now you may have gathered that I like food. I’m listing frozen yogurt as one of my healthy choices because let’s face it – I could have eaten ice cream but I didn’t. Frozen yogurt has calcium and all those active cultures that exercise the digestive system. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. So yay for me!
- I helped feed people in need. My Banyan colleagues and I spent a wonderful evening volunteering at the Atlanta Community Food Bank. The Atlanta Community Food Bank is an amazing organization that works hard to improve the health of communities in Atlanta by providing nutritious meals to families who don’t have access to the food they need.
- My friend completed a triathlon. You may ask what this has to do with me. The answer to that is simple – nothing. I’m just super proud of my friend (See #9). I told her that I was going to brag to everybody about her accomplishment and this was my chance to do just that.
- I attended lots of tee-ball games. You may be thinking that this one is going to be similar to #14 where I brag about what a great tee-ball player my son is while not professing to have done anything particularly healthy myself. Well, you’re wrong – my son’s team has a large and dedicated fan base of parents, siblings, and neighbors. As a member of the fan base, I am also an active spectator – I cheer loudly, laugh a lot, and dance and jump in the stands. It’s physically demanding and emotionally fulfilling. GO BOMBERS!
- I started my days with motivational affirmations. I find that starting the day with a moment of reflection helps me have a positive attitude and hopeful expectations. By spending even a brief moment of reflection, I am able to relieve stress and ease any anxieties I might have about my day.
- I drank wine. Just as starting the day with motivational affirmations helps to relieve stress, occasionally I feel the need to end my day with a glass of wine to shake off any stress that tried to latch on to me during the day. In addition to the stress relief benefit, wine (in moderation) might also be good for my cardiovascular health. That’s what I call a win/win!
- I spent quality time with my colleagues. One of the coolest things about Banyan is the workforce. Some pretty amazing people work at Banyan. Given the nature of the work we do, we are always working in teams. One of the best ways to work as a productive team is to spend time building bonds with each other. This month, our Atlanta office volunteered together (See #13), moved into a new office, carried boxes and assembled office furniture, and took a walk to a coffee shop in our new neighborhood, among other things.
- I educated the masses. And by “the masses,” I mean a few friends on Facebook. In light of the protests unfolding in Baltimore, MD this week, I took the opportunity to share information with people about how social determinants like poverty, limited access to resources, underemployment, resource inequities, and limited educational opportunities lead not only to social injustices but also to negative physical, mental, and emotional health outcomes.
- I worked at a job where I got to play a part in developing innovative, effective and creative health communication projects that will ultimately improve the health of more people than I can imagine. We call it “change for good” and Banyan has been doing it for 20 years now. We’re proud of that.
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