If mama aint healthy–aint nobody healthy.

5319658391 225x300 If mama aint healthy  aint nobody healthy.

Mama drink green smoothie. Tornado drink green smoothie.


The longer I’m a parent the more clearly I see the correlation between how I am living and how my family is thriving.

Or not thriving.

The longer the moniker MAMA is attached to me the more clear the meaning behind the (tweaked) quote: if mama aint healthy aint nobody healthy becomes.

Im a misfit.  Im non-traditional. I was raised on Free To Be You And Me.  Im happily living in a feminist, egalitarian relationship with Ren Man.

I still believe the core of our family’s healthy living comes from me.

I dont know if this is because Im the mother. 

I dont know if this is because Im the one who is fortunate enough to work from home. 

do know the bulk of the responsibility to keep our tripod healthy & thriving falls on my shoulders.

And, while exercise is one facet of our threesome’s healthy living focus, it’s merely a piece in the six part puzzle which helps keep us a happy, healthy, strong family unit.

What are the other five pieces? Thanks for asking!*

  • We focus on quality.  In order for our family-unit to be happy and healthy we need to consume quality.   This refers to food, but also much more than that.  I work to create quality conversations in our home.  We treat each other how we want to be treated.  We adult-types strive to model polite and courteous interaction.  Quality consumption extends to popular culture.  I’m both aware and careful what kinds of pop culture are consumed in our home.  The notion of we are what we eat refers, in my opinion, to more than food.  Choose quality.


  • We don’t multi-task.  When the Tornado was tiny I noticed how singularly focused she was.  When she played with blocks —she played with blocks!  She never simultaneously smooshed clay, assembled a puzzle *and* block-played.  Be the Tornado. Slow down.  Be present. Mono-task.


  • We find joy in the small stuff.   I love the quote: Enjoy the little things in life, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.  I strive to live each day with this quote in mind.  I also work (unsuccessfully many days) to focus on joy.  Joyful laughter lowers stress, boosts the immune system and can help protect us from heart disease.  Yes it can be easier said than done, but I know when I focus on all the small gifts in my life (the feeling of the Tornado’s hand in mine. a text from a friend just to say hello) I really do lead a far less hectic, frazzled life.


  • I’ve shed the guilt.  As a parent not only is it important to take care of ourselves—we owe it to our family to do so.  I put myself first.  I’ve made the conscious decision to meet my needs and then shift my focus to others.  Initially it helped me to remind myself I was, in fact, teaching the Tornado it’s ok to have needs, meet them and *then* do unto others.   I still find I articulate to her precisely what Im doing (Mama needs to take care of herself and have a snack. After that I can play with you.) and I dont know I’ll ever shed the guilt *enough* to get beyond that.  And that’s ok.


  • We come togetherwhen it works for us.  Research shows family dinners make for healthier, happier children who are less prone to destructive behavior.  Family dinners, when there are children with a vast array of after-school activities, have been shown to be crazy makers for many moms (MizFit note: this is my study with zero science behind it.)  Given our quirky lifestyle we tend toward family breakfasts not dinners. The important piece is coming together as a family unit.  Take the time to find what works for you.  Gather when fits your lifestyle.


  • We play.  The family who plays together is a family who stays healthy together.  This play will change as your family changes. For us this takes the form of morning bus stop play.  Your family may be more into soccer games, tennis matches or family fun runs. Whatever form your play takes this physical activity and joy helps to cement the family-unit** and keep you happy & healthy.


(insert awkward joke here about the fact this is the edited, shorter version of my post & you can thank me in the comments. I passionate.  I verbose. I edit I edit.)

As I sat here & reflected on the past six years I noted how the ways we stay healthy have shifted as the Tornado has gotten older & we’ve all grow busier.

I still believe, however, if Mama aint healthy aint nobody healthy.

Which makes me long to ask:

Be it as a mother or as a son/daughter: has my mangled quote been true in your life experience?

Do you, too, believe if Mama aint healthy–aint nobody healthy?





*I write this post NOT as an expert—which Im fairly certain no one mistook me for—but as a mom who needs to talk THOUGH what she’s doing in an attempt to figure OUT what she’s doing.  We’ve talked recently on Facebook how it’s a day to day thing around here. What works fantastically one day with regards to healthy living can fail miserably the next…

**As per this post I have a very broad definition of the word mother & family.  This post isnt just for moms or traditional family units.


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  1. says

    There has to be truth to that quote– When growing up my family was very centered around my moms nutritional tendencies. What she ate, we ate and what she performed, we performed too! She also kept my family relatively positive during tough times

  2. Blogger says

    This was true in my house growing up.

    My mom was not too healthy and our whole family suffered :(

  3. Healthy Mama says

    I adore your tip about coming together when works for you.
    I am constantly beating myself up over the fact I can’t swing a family dinner.

    Great advice as always.
    Thanks Mizzy.

  4. says

    Totally agree w/you – I am the driver of the nutritional bus here – constantly conscious of my role-modeling for our daughter. Taking time for exercise & self-care & good nutrition, for coming together & for making the effort to be present – all are struggles but are SO worth the effort. LOVE that you give a shout out to “family breakfast” – so much pressure on dinner, but that’s not workable for many folks. Life’s a constant juggling act, kids or no kids, but keeping a few cardinal principles like these in mind can help us make better choices on the fly. Thanks for another great post!

  5. says

    I love this post. Totally resonates with me. My biggest task after reading it is to work at being better at mono tasking–I’ve definitely fallen into the trap of trying to accomplish about 50 things at once and that’s not a good example to my kids! Good stuff, Miz!

  6. Meredith says

    This is really true for me and backfired.
    My mom was very organic healthy (orthorexic?) and I have been rebelling ever since.
    I think maybe because it was only food?
    I like how you expand on this.

  7. says

    This is exactly right. We as parents have to set the example, the pace, etc. We may not always eat together but it is considered the norm instead of the exception so I don’t beat myself up on days we eat in shifts.

  8. Valerie says

    Brilliantly put, and I couldn’t agree more. As a mom to two daughters, I remind myself daily that I am modeling for them what it means to be an adult, a mother, a healthy and strong woman. I am creating their “normal”. It’s important to me that they grow up to be happy, strong within themselves, and able to make sure their own needs are met. I can tell them that all day, every day, and it won’t mean a thing. They will only become that if they see me live it. They can tune out our words, but our actions will always speak volumes.

    They are also learning from dad what it means to be a strong, healthy man, and that will play a huge part in their choice of mate later, for better or for worse. I’d like them to end up with a mate (of whichever gender) who is strong, compassionate, health-conscious and willing to talk through problems. Again, they need to see that modeled, and see what a healthy relationship looks like, firsthand. They need to see me, and their dad, give time to building and maintaining a strong relationship, so they’ll know how that’s supposed to work as well.

    Also, if you want your children to love and respect you, they need to see that YOU love and respect you.

    There are so many layers to the process of parenting…but it has to start with a solid foundation of health and self-love, I think. Sometimes that’s hard to remember when the mama-guilt strikes (as it so often does!), but it’s definitely been my experience as well.

  9. says

    I definitely see truth in your (tweaked) Mama quote. The mother tends to not only set the example as a role model but also make the concrete decisions. Your other 5 points are of equally great value. I really like your statement about quality, not only in food choices but in actions, conversation, life. The most memorable moments of my life–those that I cherish and miss the most–are those of QUALITY interactions. Thanks for the reminder to live more like that, daily.

    And, well, we’ve already discussed my recent efforts at monotasking. I’m getting better!

  10. says

    Yes, so true in so many ways. I love your family breakfasts even though that wouldn’t work in my house because I need a few cups of coffee before I can be civil. Before my daughter went to college, we planned on Sunday dinner at home. With just my son at home, we managed family dinners most M-Th and Sun. Our meals aren’t fancy but my son still prefers them to take-out.

  11. says

    You make some VERY good points here. I know one thing I need to work on. NOT multitasking. I’m always doing 5 things at once. As time goes on it gets worse and definitely makes it hard to live in the moment. Thank you for the reminder =)

  12. says

    I’m not a Mom but I can relate to this a lot because I use this in my life too. My hub and I have different hobbies and that’s why we always make time for each other at dinner. We’ve been living together for 18 years and in all these years we’ve had dinner at the dining table and not in front of the TV.

    Recently I’ve been reading more and more about focussing on one thing and do it good instead of multitasking. I’m a great multitasker but these days I do one thing at a time.

    Great post Miz.

  13. says

    For my family this is absolutely true. I think it’s whichever parent takes the lead on these things, which in my household is me. :)

  14. says

    OK, I think this may be my fav post yet but since I love them all, hard to say that! This is just what we need to do Carla – yes, hard but at least get a few pieces in & things can really improve!

    I do think it starts in the home for life & life lessons & continues there as well even as they go out & learn new things.

    As I have told you before, I am not a good multi-tasker. I have had to do it & it ain’t pretty for me or the household.

    As for those little things, at 54, I can tell you they WILL be big things later.. great understanding!

    AMAZING POST!!!!! I wan to write more but it will be a book! ;-)

  15. says

    Mama taking care of herself is exactly metaphorically fastening your oxygen mask and then fastening the oxygen masks of those around you. I do struggle to shed the guilt and mono task but given the current circumstances, I have gotten a lovely crash course in it. Being present has never been so important as it is now.

  16. says

    Oh wow, your comment about multitasking really hit home. I feel like I’m getting worse about being “present” recently – always have a list of “to-dos” in my head vying for attention. Great reminder! And yes, I think the mama does a LOT to set the tone in the house (even though I’m not a mama). :)

  17. says

    This is SO true. People can knit-pick the details but kids behaviors are learned and they come from the home. If a child knows their mom is constantly “dieting” they will think that’s normal. Likewise, if they see healthy body attitude along with healthy eating they will think that’s normal.

  18. Nina says

    Wow, Carla.
    Really good point about the quality in all things.
    I am very focused on organic foods and not as focused on quality in other areas.

    • Sallie says

      Us too.
      I hadn’t thought about the fact I’m making organic chicken while they watch cartoon violence.

  19. says

    I love the idea of making a family breakfast work instead of a family dinner – I’m still having flashbacks of the insanity during springtime with all the sports practices, karate practice, scout meetings AND trying to make those dinners happen. Stress? Yes, and quite the opposite of what the intention was!

  20. says

    Parents are a HUGE part of shaping the healthy (or not) lifestyle a child will adopt over time, even as an adult. However, the mama has to live a healthy lifestyle and not FORCE it on the kids. My mom has always been very into fitness and healthy eating, but she went the route of trying to force it on me. She always encouraged play but in terms of the food, there was much restriction from things like fast food and desserts. I was never allowed to make that choice and so of course it became all I wanted and led to a junk food and sugar binging period of my life from ages 16-20 (essentially from the point I got my driver’s license and hence access to restaurants, to the point at which it all caught up with me and I felt crappy about myself). Now I’ve adopted it and learned about healthy living for the benefits it gives, not because my mom wouldn’t let me eat dessert every day when I was young. I was never shown that being healthy can be fun too. Yes, another novel comment from Caitlin, except this time I’m comfortable with it because I think you like them ;-)

  21. says

    Very true, but not just for mamas. When family dramas come up (and they seem to do so more frequently these days), I’ve learned that I still need to keep my first focus on taking care of myself. Only then can I be of any real use to anyone else. It goes against the drop-everything-and-pitch-in mentality with which I was raised, and it causes tension (and sometimes guilt) when someone has an issue with my response.

  22. says

    I grew up eating dinner as a family, so that’s what we do. Although…my eldest now has a job so he’s gone most nights. I don’t like that. Who said our kids could grow up and stop holding our hands?
    And I must confess that our Dad passed along his guilt hormones, so I feel guilty about my parenting no matter what I do. Except one area- my kids know without a doubt that I love them. That matters to me.

  23. says

    Absolutely agree!
    My little guy had a tantrum this morning, before I had my smoothie. I simply couldn’t handle it — although I tried. I needed to feed myself before I could help him get it together. And, if I am honest, because I was cranky and hungry, I’m sure I escalated the tantrum. Not my finest moment but proof that moms need to take care of themselves first so that they can take care of others.

    • MizFit says

      and the GUILT I had the first time I said to my girl (I think she was 3?) I needed to take care of me first (eat) so I could help her do something with a barbie.
      Now, however, she will come up and see me doing something or making myself food etc and say:


      which, of course, makes me wanna cast aside whatever Im doing and do unto her :-)

  24. says

    I am now part of a (two person non-child) household who focuses (for the most part) of good quality food, exercise, and the decisions that get us to that.

    5.5 years ago, when I decided to make a change – it was not that way. Some parts of the journey I’ve had to forge ahead and do on my own, but in most cases, my husband has followed (and now just as much of a tri nerd as I am). I joke he picked our career, and I picked our hobby. :)

    Sometimes wife/mama has to make the decisions and get everyone on board.

  25. says

    TRUTH!! And like Fran, even though I am not a mother, I try and model healthy behaviors rather than preach them. It took me a while to understand the difference and just how powerful modeling can be. I’d like to think my husband eats healthier, exercises more, goes to the doctor regularly, and feels his feelings more openly because of me :-)

    I have a friend who constantly puts herself down and I asked her one day if she wanted her girls to feel the same about themselves and she was horrified. Then she got it. I have another friend who never took herself to the doctor. I asked her if she wanted her kids to get regular medical checkups when they were older and she said “of course!” And then she got it.

  26. says

    I totally believe it! I think my DH being supportive helps as well. DH and I have been working out together every morning. I’m the vitamin-pusher. That’s my official title, LOL! I have certain vitamins in the AM I know each of us need, including an extra calcium pill for our daughter, as the doctor says she needs it for the growth spurt she’s been going through. DH is getting better about making healthy meals and snacks. He is taking his queue from me though, as that is what I will make sure we focus on.

  27. says

    I think it is very true that the state of the family goes, whether it is the maternal *or* paternal who is the one that does that. Most times it is the woman in the household and I believe way too many times women do not put themselves first, but everyone else. It’s not selfish to have to take care of yourself first – especially if you are the one that holds up the family unit.

    • says

      Agreed! In my family’s case, my husband is the primary caregiver (shopper, chef, shuttle-to-activities, parent-most-present), and he definitely sets the tone. I’d like to think I influence a little bit, though. ;-)

  28. says

    Bang on Miz!

    When I’m feeling guilty about taking care of my own needs, I remind myself of the worn out comparison between mothering and airplane oxygen masks. I can’t put on theirs, if I don’t put on mine first!

    In my family, we always sit down to dinner together. Not only is it a time to come together as a family, but all of the other things we’re trying to teach them (thoughtful behaviour, the art of conversation, sharing feelings, eating healthily) happen then too.

  29. says

    Beautiful post! And I agree that if mama ain’t healthy….no one is!

    As an adult who’s done a lot of soul searching and always trying to improve myself with learning and psychotherapy etc, I realize now how much of who I am is because of my mom. I see now that my mom has suffered from anxiety for most of her life and as a result, she passed it down to me. It’s been undiagnosed and untreated, unfortunately. Not only that, my dad had PTSD from Vietnam that added to the strange dynamic in my house–the walking on eggshells. I wish they both had the opportunity to have counseling and help before passing the patterns on to their kids.

  30. says

    If it’s true (and it seems like it is) that the health and happiness of your family, like many others, falls on your shoulders-than that quote is most definitely a mantra to live by. If you were feeling under the weather, or god forbid got ill, how do you think your family would run? I know growing up that if my mother hadn’t been able to perform the duties she did daily, than our family would have gone hungry, dirty, and definitely not as happy. Taking care of yourself first is a priority, especially when you still take care of everyone else as well. I love the quote about the little things, and I admire that you limit the ever-present essence of pop-culture in your home, I think it will make the Tornado a better person in the long run.

  31. says

    This is definitely a good one to print. I get bogged down in all of the stuff that needs to be done and forget to take care of myself first. I can’t do this anymore with my health in the bad state it’s now in. Thanks for this inspiring post.

    • MizFit says

      HUGS, Oh TGIYP. Im relentless about taking my me time and Im not joking about perhaps some days it could be to the chagrin of the husband. I need it. I walk through the rest of my day RESENTING when I dont. It can be at 4a. It can be fleeting (Ill take 20 minutes!). It has got to BE and be BEfore I take care of others.

  32. says

    not a mama, but a wife and I do know that in many ways the health of our house revolves around choices i make. He eats healthy when I cook healthy food…he exercises more when i’m in town than not…he can be silly or goofy when I let go of my work stress. Interesting, never fully considered it!

  33. says

    Even though I am apparently Mizfit’s token male reader, I will speak only from my experience, and not as an expert for ALL males.
    I notice, too, that when I am healthier, so is my son. Still working on Mom, though…we’ll get there…
    Yesterday, for example, he and I were working/playing in the yard, and I went in to grab an apple, which we shared.
    later he said, “tomorrow, please pack a lunch for my school snack, ok, Dad?”
    gladly, little man….
    when he and i are out and about, he chooses healthy snacks/drinks over non healthy ones. for the most part. i mean, he IS 6…
    while still venturing into the realms of artificial food-like products, he still gravitates back to real food. and that makes me happy.
    Lead by example, lead from the FRONT. huh. I recently blogged about this, too, though not as eloquently as Miz…

  34. says

    Hi Miz! Thanks for this. It is SO true, for whatever reason. Just goes to show how important it is to be a whole person yourself before you can interact in a meaningful way with anyone else.
    On a whole ‘nother level I have to say that for me my relationship with my mother is sadly a process of undoing everything I watched and experienced as I grew up. The basics are very important and kids will learn by observing us, and yet if a mother is mentally ill, etc. the job is probably nearly impossible without some real understanding and facing of our own fears, which my mother never did.
    I suppose this just gives credence to the idea that being a mother is super hard and so important. It is a lot of pressure. Makes me ever grateful for examples such as yourself. No need to be perfect when you honestly try as hard as you clearly do.

    • Natalie says

      I agree and disagree.
      I think we women are crucial do not have to be mothers.
      I look to Miz as an example of being a strong woman.

  35. says

    Great stuff Miz. I am obsessed with this post and do feel that when I am a mom I want my child to drink green smoothies because I am. I saw someone the other day feeding their child funyuns and orange soda through a straw while pushing them in a stroller…I wonder what snacks that 5-year-old is going to like growing up. So upsetting!

  36. says

    I agree with some of the other comments, there is a lot of value to this information even for the non-mothers (myself included)!

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  38. says

    So true! I totally set the tone of how my family eats. It’s called practice what you preach. I love that my kids want to eat off my plate when it’s covered in veggies and fruit. Why would I want anything less for them?

  39. says

    I kind of love everything about this post – the bit about quality, mono-tasking, playing, shedding the guilt and prioritizing – all of it. That quote holds true in our house. I’m often the one keeping the healthy habits in line. I admit though, at times it feels like I’m nagging more so as my oldest gets older and just wants whatever fun treat his friends are having. But I do believe that you have a pretty darn good formula here.

  40. says

    Beautiful post!! I agree – I stay at home with our son and I find that on the days I am straying from being healthy, the whole family does as well. Love the 5 points you try to live by…

  41. Natalie says

    THANK YOU, MIzzy for including those of us who are not mothers here.
    I am a junior high teacher and have definitely noticed my students (sadly mostly the female) watch what I eat, how I carry myself and what I eat LOL.

  42. says

    Yep… and this is my biggest parenting regret. I did not used to eat healthy, even in my “thin” days. I fed my boys a lot of “convenience” foods and not a lot of veggies. They are skinny as all get out, but their eating habits – not healthy.

  43. says

    I LOVE this post!!! This truly is the kind of family I hope to have one day (whenever I decide that kids are cute for more than an hour at a time ;P ) i love that you all come together for breakfast. So many families focus on family dinner, but you’re right — in the evening any number of things can be going on – breakfast is such a great time to start the day TOGETHER, as a FAMILY. beautiful beautiful beautiful.

    im book marking this for the years to come when we finally start our own family. Like so many have said — our habits start at a young age, so if we want healthy children we need to instill that from the start.


  44. says

    I have to learn to edit and be more concise like you. ;-) Instead of taking things out – I add more. Who has that kind of attention span to read MORE these days?

    In all seriousness, it’s the mono-tasking I need to work on immensely. They should have classes on that. I bet the average modern human would fail.. but we could keep trying! ;-)

  45. says

    Hi Carla,

    Speaks equally to those dads who can relate to the (tweaked) quote: if daddy ain’t healthy ain’t nobody healthy.

    Thanks for sharing your six part puzzle. You know, I find that when I live by pieces of my own multi-part puzzle, I feel good about sending a positive message to the Tornados in my life. And for lessons from Tornado (could be a book title, no?), our kids are as much models and teachers for us as we are for them, aren’t they?

    I could go on about mono-tasking, being present, finding joy in the small stuff and in the moment, having fun together, and more … but then there would be less time for those second waves.


  46. says

    Great list! I’ve said this before but you are my mama-mentor. I really really need to give up multi-tasking because in the end it just makes me bad at everything. And I love your definition of quality!!

  47. says

    I know I’m late commenting on this, but I saw it earlier in the week in my reader (but didn’t have time to read/comment) and just by reading the title, I said “YES!!!” I so agree with all your points! I love your blog and FB reminders, and you don’t know how many times I think about you when I’m about to forget to live my priorities! Thank you!

  48. says

    What mama cooks the family eats so this statement is totally true. Mama is the root of all evil and all good when it comes to diet.

  49. Heather says

    I love this post so much. I read it the other day and thought about it so much over the past few days. I talked myself out of 5 minutes in the steam room after my workout because it felt so indulgent. Then I talked myself into it. Then out. Then in. You get the picture. I ended up doing it and told myself that I deserve an extra 5 minutes of indulging; it makes me a better mama if I take care of myself.

  50. says

    This is so true! But sometimes when we run through our days, we forget about many things … to stop and listen or to just really be here …