When confronted with a busy schedule, it’s easy to toss healthy practices out the window.
Take it from Richland County Commissioner Marilyn John — she knows from experience what it’s like to be busy. But at the end of the day, she’s made health a priority.
“I want to be there with my family and I want to live life to the fullest,” she said.
In her experience she’s found the best way to go about doing that is by taking care of her mind, body and spirit.
“Wellness to me is a bigger picture. Wellness is mind, body and spirit,” she said. “I try to be as balanced as I can in all of those aspects of my life.”
An average morning for her consists of drinking a glass of water (which she drinks almost exclusively), eating breakfast (a standard meal is cream of wheat made with almond milk, honey and cinnamon), and reading a devotional.
“I think it's important to get your mind and your spirit, as well as your metabolism going in the morning,” she said.
This in turn helps her start off on the right foot when the workday begins.
“I feel like at that point no matter what comes up I can handle it,” she said.
John keeps a daily log of her weight, water-intake (she aims for 10 eight-ounce glasses a day) and meal summary.
Maintaining a healthy regimen is made easier with the encouragement of her family.
“We grill out in the summer and we spend a lot of time cooking as a family,” she said.
Junk food and pop are a scarcity at the John household. This isn’t to say they don’t enjoy sweets every now and then, but more often than not they’re homemade.
John said she likes to cook using fresh, unprocessed foods. When she goes to the grocery store she spends most of her time shopping the perimeter (where fresh foods like fruits, vegetables, dairy, meat and fish are usually located).
Equally important as a healthy diet is a healthy mind. John uses a food analogy to drive this point home with her two kids.
“If you eat fast food every day for a month, after 30 days, how are you going to feel? Physically, probably not very good,” she said. “I look at the stress and negativity that is prevalent in the world in that context knowing if that's all you allow in every day, after a few days, your mind is not going to feel good.”
When it comes to fitness, her go-to exercise is running. She started running about 10 years ago with some friends she made in a mom group she helped found in Shelby.
Now that the dead of winter has hit, John said she’s looking forward to early morning summer runs outside.
“I struggle with the treadmill, which is why I struggle with exercising in the winter,” she said. “I’m just craving 6 a.m., sunny, warm weather to run on the road. That is my favorite. I can't wait to get out there and run.”
When life got especially busy last year with campaigning, chairing the Richland County Republican Party and sending her daughter off to college, John’s running routine took a hit, so she set (and reached) a goal to log 100 miles in the month of August and to walk or run a mile every day, at a minimum.
She said she’s happy if she can get three miles in — whether that’s walking, running or a combination of the two. She likes to use music as a guide to know when to switch between walking and running. “I’ll walk a song and then run two songs,” she said.
More than good exercise, running is also a great way to decompress and destress, she’s found.
“I just work out a lot of stuff in my head when I'm on the road,” she said. “That's why I like starting off in the morning because it helps me kick my day off right.”
Before running came into the picture, John did yoga and even taught classes for about four years when she lived in Miami County. She taught at a fitness studio owned by the late Ocie Bowman.
“She was an amazing mentor to me and was in amazing shape,” John said of Bowman. “We did, a friend of mine and I, a sit-up contest with her and she'd beat both of us, and she was more than double our age.”
The pressure to do more, succeed more when it comes to exercise can be daunting, but John takes it all in stride and says it doesn't have to be all or nothing.
“The most important thing when it comes to exercise is moving,” she said. "Even if it’s just walking a mile, that’s OK.”