Whether or not you ultimately have children, your health should always be your main focus. If you choose to have children, you’ve taken the steps towards a safe and trouble-free pregnancy. And even if you never have children, taking care of yourself means a longer, healthier and happier life.

Regardless of where you are in life, remember to eat a healthy diet, get 30 minutes of exercise a day, take a multivitamin with folic acid, manage your stress, and see a doctor at least once a year. These tips will ensure the healthiest you today!

keys to healthy you

  • Eat Right

    Proper nutritional habits are the key to more energy, brain & heart health, disease prevention, and weight control. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat dairy products are healthy choices. Include protein foods such as poultry, fish, beans, eggs, nuts and lean meats. Make sure to choose foods that are low in saturated fats, sodium, and added sugars.

  • Take Your Vitamins

    Folic Acid is an important vitamin for all women to have. The best way to be sure you have enough is to take a daily multivitamin with 400mcg of folic acid every day. Folic acid makes your hair shine, your skin glow, & your nails grow but it also helps prevent serious birth defects in a developing fetus.

  • Be Active

    Adults need at least 30 minutes a day at least 5 days a week. It might sound like a lot of time but you don't have to do it all at once. Spread your activity throughout the week and even during the day. Just make sure you’re doing activity at a moderate to vigorous pace at least 10 minutes at a time.

  • Visit a Doctor

    A medical home starts with finding a primary care provider like a doctor, nurse practitioner or other healthcare provider that you trust. You should be able to share your medical history and work together as partners to address all areas of your health. Your medical home should be easy to get to, affordable and comfortable.

  • Manage Your Stress

    Stress is hard on your physical health. It can cause high blood pressure, weight gain and having a baby born too early. Manage your stress by confronting the issue, breathing, getting plenty of rest, talking with a friend, or getting some exercise. See below for more ways to stay healthy depending on your stage of life.

I'm thinking about having kids

The above recommendations are things you can do at any stage of life to ensure the healthiest you. But, there are additional factors to think about when planning for a baby. You want to be sure that your mind, body and environment give you the best chance at having a healthy life and, someday, a healthy baby.

Healthy Body

Do you want to feel better, look better and have more energy? Make your physical health a priority and you will look and feel your best. When you decide to have children, these tips can help you stay healthy before, during and after your pregnancy – and will help your baby’s well-being, too.

Take Your Vitamins

Take a multivitamin with at least 400 mcg of folic acid every day. Folic acid offers a great boost to your energy level, gives you healthier hair and nails. Taking folic acid before pregnancy also helps prevent birth defects that can develop early in pregnancy.

Get Moving

Try to get at least 30 minutes of exercise every day to keep your body in shape and reduce stress from work or family life. When you exercise, you enjoy great benefits such as:

  • Stronger heart, muscles and bones
  • Better sleep
  • Higher energy
  • Healthier weight
  • Fewer illnesses
  • Less stress

Run. Dance. Play.

Find an activity that you enjoy and make it part of your daily life. Sign up for a group yoga class, hit the bike trails with a friend or join a bowling league.

If you don’t have a lot of time, try walking around your neighborhood or doing push-ups, sit-ups and lunges at home. Your heart, bones and muscles will get stronger every day.

Check out the parks, pools, community centers, and recreation areas to be physically active around Waco.

Visit our Pinterest page for some quick exercises you can do from your own home!

Get your Nutrients

Lean protein, vegetables and fruits should be at the center of your family’s diet. This is particularly important as you both prepare for pregnancy. So try to get more of the right foods while eliminating fatty, sugary and highly processed options.

Fill up on leafy vegetables, lean protein and fruit. Help your heart by getting fiber from beans, peas and whole grain breads. And don’t forget water. Drink plenty of it to wash the bad stuff out of your system.

Visit the Waco Downtown Farmers Market (400 South University Parks Drive) year-round every Saturday from 9-1pm. SNAP can be used to purchase fresh produce and groceries at the market.

Also visit the Veggie Van, a mobile produce unit that travels all around Waco with affordable fresh fruits and vegetables. They even offer discounts to SNAP users and senior citizens.

For some healthy and easy recipes, check out our Pinterest page.

Put Down The Pack

The most important thing you can do to protect the health of yourself and the baby you may one day carry is to quit smoking.

Don’t know where to start? Creating a plan of action and involving people close to you to help with your effort is a great first step. Try the My Quit Plan for helpful tips and hints.

Nicotine is a powerfully addictive drug. The first two weeks are often the most difficult, with symptoms steadily easing after that. However, if you don’t make plans for handling withdrawal, you could easily start smoking again.

Ease The Withdrawal

There are many medications available that can make quitting easier. These include nicotine patches, gum, inhalers and more.

Don’t take any nicotine medications without first talking to your health care provider. And keep in mind that the first two weeks of your smoke-free life are the most difficult – your daily cravings will start to go away after that.

Quitting For Good

Successful quitters ask for the support of their family and friends. They also often use counseling programs to increase their chances of quitting permanently.

Don’t keep your goals to yourself. Tell your friends about your plans and ask them to lend their support. You may have friends who have been through the same struggle and are willing to share how they did it.

The American Cancer Society Quitline is a great resource for convenient help and advice. Trained counselors work with your schedule to help you form a quit plan that works for you, providing critical support when you need it. For example, The Texas Quitline offers unbeatable convenience and flexibility.

Don’t Be Discouraged

You have an advantage if you tried to quit before. Now, you have a better idea about what works (and what doesn’t) for your personal circumstances. Since most people start smoking again within three months after stopping, get ready for the temptations that you may face in the future.

The Dangers Of Alcohol

No amount of alcohol is safe during pregnancy. Alcohol exposure during pregnancy results in a range of disorders called Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). These disorders can cause learning disabilities, behavioral problems, heart defects and debilitating developmental disabilities. Learn the myths and facts about drinking alcohol and pregnancy.

If you’re out with friends, choose a mocktail over a cocktail — your baby will thank you and your friends will support you.

Plan Your Pregnancy Right

There are a lot of things to think about when you’re deciding whether or not you want to have a baby. And timing is everything — your ability to have a healthy pregnancy decreases as you age, but having a baby before you’re ready can also cause problems. Make sure nothing messes up that timing. If you are not planning on having a baby now, choose a type of birth control that works for you, so you can make sure pregnancy happens when you’re ready. Remember, a planned pregnancy is a healthy pregnancy.

Planned Parenthood offers the full range of available birth control methods, including long-acting reversible options such as IUDs and implants. Additionally, they offer well-woman exams, testing and treatment for STDs, HIV testing, pregnancy testing, clinical breast exams, cervical cancer screens and treatments, and HPV vaccinations. Planned Parenthood accepts most major insurance plans and Medicaid coverage. The Planned Parenthood mission is to provide quality reproductive healthcare to everyone who needs it, no matter what. If you are uninsured or in need of financial assistance, and meet certain eligibility requirements, your healthcare services may be available at a reduced cost. For more information or to schedule an appointment, visit ppgreatertx.org.

The Family Health Center of Waco also offers a variety of well woman care including contraception, cervical cancer screenings, breast cancer screenings, and screening and treatment of sexually transmitted infection. The Eligibility Department at Family Health Center is available to help patients apply for financial assistance programs. To learn more, visit connect.wacofhc.org.

Know What Runs In The Family

Good health before pregnancy is important and can significantly reduce the risk of birth defects as well as loss of the pregnancy, low birth weight and preterm delivery. If you are planning to start a family soon, make an appointment to discuss your plans with your provider. Make sure you and your partner talk about your family histories together and ask your provider about genetic testing, so that you can identify possible issues before you become pregnant.

Begin creating a Family Health Portrait here and share it with your provider and your partner.

Additional Resources

For other resources around Waco that can help you maintain a healthy body, check out our resource map.

Healthy Mind

When you’re feeling stressed, you may experience high blood pressure, weight gain and, in pregnancy, even early delivery of your baby (called preterm birth).

Spending time now figuring out what helps you reduce the stress in your life will pay off later, especially during pregnancy.

Resolve the Issue

Take on what’s bothering you directly by trying to work through the issue, resolve it, and move on. Sometimes, doing it by yourself or having friends and family try to help isn’t enough. Find counseling and therapy when you feel that you need help.

Deep Breaths

When people feel stressed, they often take short, quick and shallow breaths. Try to ease your tension by switching to deep, slow breaths. It’s a great technique to adopt whenever you feel stress coming on. You can also try a meditation or yoga class to learn additional ways to relax.

Get A Good Nights Sleep

Clinicians recommend that you sleep between seven and eight hours every night. To fall asleep more easily, start slowing down about an hour before you go to bed. Turn off your computer and cell phone, read a book, snuggle up with your pet, drink some hot tea or get some fresh air. And try not to go to sleep with the television or lights on.

Sweat Out The Stress

A good sweaty workout, simple stretch or even a brisk walk can have you feeling like a new woman again. Set an alarm at home or work to remind yourself to get up and get moving. And don’t forget to invite a workout buddy along. You’ll be much more likely to stick to your workout plan.

Know If It Could It Be More Than Just Stress

Sometimes normal stress becomes depression and anxiety. These medical problems can affect anyone.

Signs of depression and anxiety often include sad, hopeless or empty feelings that won’t go away and worrying too much. Other signs can include feeling powerless, having trouble sleeping and feeling detached.

If you think you’re suffering from depression or anxiety, seek help. Talk to your health care provider or nurse about your feelings so they can get you the help you need.

Utilize our resource map to find local resources in Waco that can help support your mental health.

You can also call the National Lifeline for Support at (800) 273-TALK (8255).

Additional Resources

For other resources around Waco that can help you maintain a healthy mind, check out our resource map.

Healthy Environment

Creating a healthy environment provides big benefits for you and your future family. These tips will make your home and work safer and healthier:

  • Stay away from pesticides, cigarette smoke, solvents, asbestos, lead, industrial chemicals and radioactive substances.
  • Handle foods safely and cook all meat thoroughly and avoid raw, unpasteurized milk and cheeses to prevent infections.
  • Avoid eating certain fish (marlin, orange roughy, tilefish, swordfish, shark, king mackerel, big eye tuna and ahi tuna) to prevent mercury exposure.
  • While you are trying to get pregnant, use gloves when handling pet waste and while gardening to prevent infections.

For The 9-5 And Beyond

Know your employee rights and find out what worksite protections for leave are in place for pregnant and parenting employees at your job. Other topics to be aware of are workplace breastfeeding laws, as well as maternity and paternity leave policies.

The more informed you are, the better you can fight for your rights. Breastfeeding mothers have fewer missed days from work, so if your job is not mother-friendly, learn how to change it through the Texas Mother Friendly Worksite Program.

Don’t forget to think about your support system beyond the birth of your child. For working mothers, child care is a very important need and choices should be considered prior to childbirth to avoid unnecessary stress.

Selecting child care is one of the most important choices you will make about your baby. Visit our resource map to find child care near you.

Support Is Important

A proper support system is very important in life, in pregnancy and in parenting. As you continue to plan ahead towards a life with children, make sure to create a support system that will help you through the difficulties that lie ahead. Most important in this system is your partner.

Whether it’s delivery, breastfeeding, a shoulder to cry on or someone to balance the checkbook, your partner’s role in your success and that of the family should not be overlooked.

Get Help For Violence And Abuse

Remember trust, respect and communication are the keys to a happy and healthy relationship. Your relationship with your partner should always feel safe, secure and free of worry.

As you consider having a child, it’s extremely important that you trust your partner and believe that your partner will help you create an environment healthy for childbearing.

Nationally, homicide during the pregnancy period is blamed for more deaths than obstetric complications. The risk of death by homicide for women who are in an abusive relationship increases during the pregnancy period.

Get help in Waco by calling the Family Abuse Center or the Advocacy Center for Crime Victims & Children. The Family Abuse Center provides a 24-hour domestic violence hotline (1-800-283-8401), emergency shelter for victims, children’s services and counseling, crisis intervention, rural outreach, and support groups.

The Advocacy Center for Crime Victims & Children provides a 24 hour crisis hotline service (1-888-867-7233), sexual assault nurse examination, short term counseling and case management, and legal advocacy and assistance.

You can also contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or TTY 1-800-787-3224 or (206) 518-9361 (Video Phone — Only for callers with hearing impairments).

You may be experiencing abuse if your partner or colleague:

  • Continually monitors your activities, in person or on social media.
  • Tries to stop you from going to work or seeing friends and family.
  • Tries to control your finances, your medications (including birth control), what you wear or your eating habits.
  • Hurts you physically or threatens to do so.
  • Destroys your property or harms your pet.

If you are experiencing violence or abuse in your home or work environment, we urge you to visit Womenshealth.gov to find resources and information to protect yourself.

Additional Resources

For other resources around Waco that can help you maintain a healthy environment, check out our resource map.

Life Planning Tool

Identify your goals for the future. Discuss with your partner and see how children fit into those plans. With the Life Planning Tool you and your partner will develop a plan for the future based on your hopes and dreams of today.

I'm Not Sure I Want to have Children

Regardless of if you choose to have children or not, your health should always be your priority. If you choose to have babies, you’ve taken the steps towards a healthy pregnancy. If you never have children, taking care of yourself means a longer, healthier and happier life.

Below are a few things that will help you whether you become pregnant or not.

Healthy Body

Taking good care of your physical health can help you look and feel your best. Here are a few tips to keep you feeling good thanks to a strong and healthy body.

Consider Your Options

If you are not sure about becoming pregnant, it’s important to think about all of the options out there. That way you can make that decision when you’re ready. And timing is everything — your ability to have a healthy pregnancy decreases as you age, but having a baby before you’re ready can also cause problems. Contraception, known as birth control, gives you the chance to plan your life or pregnancy at a time that’s right for you. Check out this chart that shows the different types of birth control methods available for you to discuss with your doctor.

Planned Parenthood offers the full range of available birth control methods, including long-acting reversible options such as IUDs and implants. Additionally, they offer well-woman exams, testing and treatment for STDs, HIV testing, pregnancy testing, clinical breast exams, cervical cancer screens and treatments, and HPV vaccinations. Planned Parenthood accepts most major insurance plans and Medicaid coverage. The Planned Parenthood mission is to provide quality reproductive healthcare to everyone who needs it, no matter what. If you are uninsured or in need of financial assistance, and meet certain eligibility requirements, your healthcare services may be available at a reduced cost. For more information or to schedule an appointment, visit ppgreatertx.org.

The Family Health Center of Waco also offers a variety of well woman care including contraception, cervical cancer screenings, breast cancer screenings, and screening and treatment of sexually transmitted infection. The Eligibility Department at Family Health Center is available to help patients apply for financial assistance programs. To learn more, visit connect.wacofhc.org.

Take Your Vitamins

Jump-start your health and take a multivitamin every day with at least 400 mcg of folic acid. Folic acid helps with your energy level. If you decide to become pregnant, having taken folic acid before pregnancy will help your baby’s nerves and brain grow properly. As a bonus, you’ll also have stronger nails and shinier hair

Start Moving

By exercising 30 minutes a day, you will enjoy a stronger heart, muscles and bones. You’ll also feel less stressed, get better sleep, have more energy, maintain your weight and get sick less.

Choose The Moves You’ll Stick With

The best kind of exercise is the kind you’ll enjoy doing. If you love being outdoors, then try morning walks or riding your bike. If you prefer yoga, find a class that fits your style or just a quiet spot in your living room.

You can also add physical activities into your normal life. These include walking anytime you can – to meetings, to your mailbox and around the block. It’s also important to stand up as much as possible throughout the day so blood can move through your legs and your heart rate can pick up.

Check out the parks, pools, community centers, and recreation areas to be physically active around Waco.

Eat Smart

Exercising is only one part of a healthy lifestyle. The other is eating properly. Learn more about some healthy choices you can make in your daily diet.

  • Grains: These foods are made with wheat, oats, rice, etc. Try to make at least half of your servings “whole grain.” This could mean eating oatmeal for breakfast or choosing brown rice over white rice.
  • Vegetables: Eat plenty of them, especially dark-green, red and orange veggies are full of important vitamins and minerals.
  • Fiber: Eating plenty of fiber like beans and peas will help you feel full and keep your digestive system humming. Plus, it’s good for your heart.
  • Whole fruits: These sweet treats provide the most benefit with the fewest calories. Juice gives you the vitamins and minerals, but not the fiber. If you drink juice, make sure the label says “100% fruit juice.” Otherwise, it’s really a sugar-sweetened drink, closer to a soda.
  • Milk, yogurt and cheese: These can be part of a healthy diet, but switch to fat-free, low-fat or reduced-fat versions.
  • Meat: Get the protein, skip the fat. Look for lean, low-sodium choices when possible; baked chicken, lean beef and turkey are great ways to get the nutrients you need. And remember, a serving is only about the size of a deck of cards.
  • Seafood: Try eating fish, shrimp and other shellfish at least twice a week.
  • Water: And plenty of it. Or if you like the fizzy stuff, try seltzer instead.

Visit the Waco Downtown Farmers Market (400 South University Parks Drive) year-round every Saturday from 9-1pm. SNAP can be used to purchase fresh produce and groceries at the market.

Also visit the Veggie Van, a mobile produce unit that travels all around Waco with affordable fresh fruits and vegetables. They even offer discounts to SNAP users and senior citizens.

Check out our Pinterest page for easy and healthy recipes.

Stop Smoking

The single most important thing you can do to protect your health is to stop smoking. Don’t know where to start? For starters, we recommend you take a look at My Quit Plan for helpful tips and hints.

For most quitters, early withdrawal symptoms can make things very difficult. Nicotine is a powerful and very addictive drug, and if you don’t make plans for handling withdrawal, you could easily start smoking again.

Ease The Symptoms Of Withdrawal

Most quitters can get help from using nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) or other medications. Studies show that your chances for success are doubled with the use of approved NRT or prescribed medications.

Talk to your provider about these medications. Together you can find the one that works for you:

  • Nicotine patch (available by prescription and over the counter)
  • Nicotine gum (available over the counter)
  • Nicotine inhaler (available by prescription)
  • Nicotine lozenge (available over the counter)
  • Nicotine nasal spray (available by prescription)
  • Bupropion SR (available by prescription)

Seek Out Support

Experts point out that successful quitters gain the support of family and friends and take advantage of counseling programs. Don’t keep your plans to quit a secret.

Tell your friends and family about your quit plans, invite friends who smoke to join you or make a friendly bet with a co-worker that you can stay smoke-free for a day, a week, a month and so on.

Find a friend who has been through it. Most former smokers will help others. The American Cancer Society Quitline helps you when you want it and how you want it. You don’t have to leave home, find a ride or get childcare.

Trained counselors call you when it works for you and are there to help you form a quit plan that feels right for you. They share tips that will help you be successful.

Keep Trying

Keep in mind that most people try to quit again and again before they are successful. In fact, you have an advantage if you tried to quit before. You can use what you learned and apply it to your “new and improved” attempt. Studies show that most start smoking again within the first three months after stopping. Prepare yourself for the difficult situations and temptations that lie ahead.

Know The Benefits

Every cigarette you don’t smoke adds about seven minutes to your life. After five years of quitting, you cut your chances of heart attack in half.

For additional resources on quitting smoking, scroll down to the bottom of the page.

Find A Medical Home

Creating a medical home is an important step to your future health. A medical home starts with finding a primary care provider like a doctor, midwife, nurse practitioner or other healthcare provider that you trust. You should be able to share your medical history and work together as partners. Your medical home should be easy to get to, affordable and comfortable.

Check out our resource map to find a health care provider nearest you.

Manage Your Chronic Conditions

Take advantage of your medical home to handle any chronic conditions you may have. Whether it’s diabetes, mental illness, obesity, hypertension, thyroid disorders or another condition, your provider can help you figure out the problem and find ways to help.

Get Tested

It’s important to get checked regularly for Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs). Talk to your provider and seek treatment of STIs if necessary. Untreated or undiagnosed STIs can affect your ability to have babies in the future. Certain STIs like HIV, Hepatitis C and Syphilis can be deadly if they aren’t treated.

Visit the Waco-McLennan County Public Health District (225 W Waco Drive) to get tested today.

Have A Plan

If you do decide to become pregnant, there are a few important things to know if and when pregnancy does occur. Take your daily multivitamin with folic acid to prevent birth defects in your baby. Also, prenatal care is something to plan for right away if you become pregnant. Some of a baby’s most important development happens during the first trimester — before the end of the 13th week of pregnancy. So, beginning prenatal care as soon as you find out you’re pregnant is very important.

You can receive a free pregnancy test in Waco at Care Net Pregnancy Center (254-772-8270) or Planned Parenthood (254-759-5750).

Care Net Pregnancy Center also provides ultrasounds, STD referrals, and counseling on your pregnancy options.

Additional Resources

For other resources around Waco that can help you maintain a healthy mind, check out our resource map.

Healthy Environment

Your environment — and the people around you — can make you healthy or unhealthy.

Know What To Avoid

  • Avoid pesticides, cigarette smoke, solvents, asbestos, lead, industrial chemicals and radioactive substances.
  • Cook meat all the way through and avoid raw, unpasteurized milk and cheeses to prevent infections.
  • Work with others to promote a healthy community that is free of violence and supports your needs.
  • Build healthy relationships with your partner, family and friends by communicating more, spending time together and supporting one another.
  • If you could become pregnant, use gloves when handling cat litter and while gardening to prevent infections.

Get Help For Violence And Abuse

Healthy relationships are built on respect, open communication and the freedom to be yourself. If you feel threatened by your partner or colleague, you may be experiencing abuse. Some examples of abusive behavior are if your partner or colleague:

  • Continually monitors your activities, in person or on social media.
  • Tries to stop you from going to work or seeing friends and family.
  • Accuses you of being unfaithful.
  • Tries to control your finances, your medications (including birth control), what you wear or your eating habits.
  • Hurts you physically or threatens to do so.

If you are experiencing violence or abuse, get help in Waco by calling the Family Abuse Center or the Advocacy Center for Crime Victims & Children. The Family Abuse Center provides a 24-hour domestic violence hotline (1-800-283-8401), emergency shelter for victims, children’s services and counseling, crisis intervention, rural outreach, and support groups.

The Advocacy Center for Crime Victims & Children provides a 24 hour crisis hotline service (1-888-867-7233), sexual assault nurse examination, short term counseling and case management, and legal advocacy and assistance.

You may also contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline by calling 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY) or (206) 518-9361 (Video Phone — Only for Deaf Callers).

Additional Resources

For other resources around Waco that can help you maintain a healthy mind, check out our resource map.

Healthy Mind

Your emotional health and mental health have a big effect on your physical health. Here are a few ways to lower your stress, stay balanced and improve your overall health.

Stress is hard on your physical health. It can cause high blood pressure, weight gain and having a premature baby (a baby born too early). Find out what helps you reduce stress, and it will help you later.

Don’t Ignore the Issue

It’s best to face what’s bothering you head-on. Try to work through the issue, try to fix it and move on. Sometimes though, going it alone or relying on friends or family isn’t enough. It’s important to seek help like counseling and therapy when you need it.

Just Breathe

When people are stressed out they usually take short, shallow breaths. You can ease your tension by switching to deep, slow breaths. With practice, it’s easy to do whenever you feel stress coming on. You can also try a meditation or yoga class to learn additional ways to relax.

Get Good Rest

A good night’s sleep lasts seven to eight hours. To fall asleep faster, start slowing down about an hour before you hit the pillow. Turn off your computer or mobile device. You can also read a book, read a story with your kids, snuggle with your pet or get some fresh air.

Sweat It Out

Got stress? A good, hard workout or a simple stretch can really help. Even taking a speedy walk can have you feeling like a new woman again. Don’t forget to invite a friend. Having a workout buddy increases your odds of sticking with an exercise plan.

Know When It Could Be More Than Just Stress

Sometimes normal stress crosses the line into depression and anxiety. These are real medical problems that can affect anyone.

Signs of depression include sad, hopeless or empty feelings that won’t go away. There are many other possible symptoms. These can include having trouble sleeping and feeling detached.

Signs of anxiety include worrying too much, feeling powerless and having panic feelings that won’t go away.

Sometimes it’s not easy to ask for help, but it’s the right thing to do — for yourself and for the family you may have one day. Talk to your nurse or other health care professional about your feelings so they can get you the help you need.

Utilize our resource map to find local resources in Waco that can help support your mental health.

You can also call the National Lifeline for Support at (800) 273-TALK (8255).

Additional Resources

For other resources around Waco that can help you maintain a healthy mind, check out our resource map.

Life Planning Tool

Planning for tomorrow means figuring out your wants, dreams and goals today. With the Life Planning Tool, you and your partner can identify future goals, see where children do or don’t fit with those goals and then start taking action to ensure those goals are met. Get started by clicking here.

I don't want or can't have children

Even though you’re not planning on having a baby, there are still some things to think about, like how to make sure nothing gets in the way of the exciting life you’ve planned.

Healthy Body

Do you want to feel better, look better and have more energy? Here are a few tips to keep your body healthy and in great shape.

Know your Options

Even though you’re not planning on having a baby, there are still some things to think about, like how to make sure nothing gets in the way of the exciting life you’ve planned. One important part of this process is contraception, or birth control.

To learn about contraception and how it could fit into your future, download our Life Planning Tool.  Make sure your form of birth control works for you. If you’re having trouble remembering to take it or having side effects that are stressing you out, talk to your provider. Check out this chart that shows the different types of birth control methods available for you to discuss with your doctor.

Planned Parenthood offers the full range of available birth control methods, including long-acting reversible options such as IUDs and implants. Additionally, they offer well-woman exams, testing and treatment for STDs, HIV testing, pregnancy testing, clinical breast exams, cervical cancer screens and treatments, and HPV vaccinations. Planned Parenthood accepts most major insurance plans and Medicaid coverage. The Planned Parenthood mission is to provide quality reproductive healthcare to everyone who needs it, no matter what. If you are uninsured or in need of financial assistance, and meet certain eligibility requirements, your healthcare services may be available at a reduced cost. For more information or to schedule an appointment, visit ppgreatertx.org.

The Family Health Center of Waco also offers a variety of well woman care including contraception, cervical cancer screenings, breast cancer screenings, and screening and treatment of sexually transmitted infection. The Eligibility Department at Family Health Center is available to help patients apply for financial assistance programs. To learn more, visit connect.wacofhc.org.

Get Your 30 Minutes

Exercise is a great way to get rid of stress and keep your mind and body healthy. The benefits of daily exercise include:

  • Stronger heart, muscles and bones
  • Less stress
  • Better sleep
  • More energy
  • Healthier weight
  • Fewer illnesses

Do Something You Enjoy

Whether it’s walking, yoga or a group fitness class, there are lots of fun exercises and activities to get your body moving. Just make sure you do the activity for at least 30 minutes to make it worth it for your heart and muscles.

Ask a friend to join you and really make the time fly by. If you can’t make it out, try exercising at home. All you need is comfortable clothing, a workout mat and a fitness app or video to get started.

You can also build physical activity in your everyday life. Take the stairs instead of the elevator at work. Walk for 10 or 15 minutes before or after lunch. When shopping, park your car at the far end of the lot and walk the extra distance to the store entrance. It’s all about moving more in your day!

Check out the parks, pools, community centers, and recreation areas to be physically active around Waco. Or check out our Pinterest page for exercises you can do right in your own home.

Put Better Meals On The Menu

You are what you eat. A lot of lean protein, vegetables and fruits should be a major part of your family’s diet. Dairy products can be included, but switch to fat-free, low-fat or reduced-fat versions. Drink plenty of water and stay away from foods with lots of salt, as well as those high in saturated fats.

Check out the Waco Downtown Farmers Market (400 South University Parks Drive) year-round every Saturday from 9-1pm for healthy, locally grown foods. SNAP can be used to purchase fresh produce and groceries at the market.

Also visit the Veggie Van, a mobile produce unit that travels all around Waco with affordable fresh fruits and vegetables. They even offer discounts to SNAP users and senior citizens.

Check out our Pinterest page for ideas on how to prepare easy, yummy, and healthy meals.

Strive For A Healthy Weight

In Texas, about one in three women your age are obese. The negative — and potentially deadly — effects of being overweight and/or obese are scary.

Obesity increases the risks of numerous types of cancer, heart disease and diabetes. But they can be avoided. With a proper diet and exercise, you can lose weight and enjoy a healthier life — with a brighter long-term future.

Take Your Daily Vitamins

Health professionals say that you should take a multivitamin every day with at least 400 mcg of folic acid, even if you’re not planning to get pregnant. This nutrient helps you keep your energy level up and gives you stronger nails and shinier hair.

Smoke-Free Life

Quitting smoking isn’t easy and the cravings that go with it can make quitting seem impossible. But you can do it! The first two weeks of your smoke-free life are the hardest, but your cravings will start to go away after that. A great place to start is My Quit Plan, which gives you great tips for quitting.

Ease Your Withdrawal

There are many medications that can make ease your cravings for cigarettes. Talk to your provider about your options and find one that works for you:

  • Nicotine patch (available by prescription and over the counter)
  • Nicotine gum (available over the counter)
  • Nicotine inhaler (available by prescription)
  • Nicotine lozenge (available over the counter)
  • Nicotine nasal spray (available by prescription)
  • Bupropion SR (available by prescription)

Be Supported

Research shows that people who share their goals and ask for help (especially from other friends and family members who have quit themselves) have a better chance at quitting than those who try to do it alone.

The American Cancer Society Quitline is a great place to look for help and can double your chances of quitting for good. Trained experts will work with you and help make a quit plan that is right for you.

Find A Medical Home

Creating a medical home is an important step to your future health. Find a primary care provider that you trust. Share your medical history and work together as partners to make sure all of your medical needs are met. This includes yearly check-ups, STI testing, birth control and other regular care.

Check out our resource map to see the medical providers in your area.

Keep Track Of Chronic Conditions

If you have diabetes, mental illness, obesity, hypertension and thyroid disorders, it’s important to stay on top of it. If not, they can quickly get out of control and mess with your future plans. But with the help of a clinician, you can keep these issues in check. So YOU can decide what you’re doing with your future.

Get Tested For STIs

It’s important to get checked for Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) regularly. Even if you or your partner feels fine, you can still pass on infections. Talk to your provider and seek treatment of STIs if necessary. Untreated or undiagnosed STIs can turn into life-threatening issues.

Visit the Waco-McLennan County Public Health District (225 W Waco Drive) to get tested today.

Additional Resources

For other resources around Waco that can help you maintain a healthy body, check out our resource map.

Healthy Mind

Your emotional and mental state of mind affects your physical health. Stress can give you higher blood pressure, make you gain weight and is one of the biggest challenges to better health.

We’ve gathered some great ways to reduce your stress, keep you balanced and support your daily well-being

Confront Stress

It’s usually best to face what’s bothering you head-on. Try to work through the issue, resolve it and move on. Sometimes, facing it alone or relying on friends or family isn’t enough. It’s important to seek help like counseling and therapy when you need it.

Just Breathe

When you’re stressed, calm down by taking deep, slow breaths. Try meditation or listen to soft music. Don’t worry about things you can’t control and avoid putting too much on your schedule.

Catch Some Z’s

According to the National Heart, Blood and Lung Institute, it’s important to try to sleep between seven and eight hours every night. You’ll fall asleep more quickly if you start slowing down about an hour before you lay down for the night. Remember to turn off the lights so your body realizes that it’s time to sleep.

Start Sweating

A hard workout, long walk or even a simple stretch can go a long way toward lowering your stress level. Set an alarm to remind yourself and invite a friend along to make working out more fun.

Stress Can Sometimes Signal Depression

For many people, normal stress can turn into depression and anxiety. These are real medical conditions that need professional attention. Some of the symptoms of depression are:

  • Feelings of sadness or hopelessness that won’t go away
  • Worrying too much, feeling powerless and having panic attacks
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Persistent feelings of detachment or emptiness

It’s not always easy to ask for help, but it’s the right thing to do. Talk to your nurse or provider about your feelings so they can get you the help you need.

Utilize our resource map to find local resources in Waco that can help support your mental health.

You can also call the National Lifeline for Support at (800) 273-TALK (8255).

Additional Resources

For other resources around Waco that can help you maintain a healthy mind, check out our resource map.

Healthy Environment

Living in an unhealthy home or working in a stressful workplace is not good for your body. Follow these steps for a healthier lifestyle:

When you’re at home or work, avoid chemicals like chemicals like pesticides, cigarette smoke and asbestos. Be sure to cook meat well and avoid raw, unpasteurized milk and cheeses — your belly will thank you.

Money can cause major stress in a home. Learn how to handle it and work through issues together. You and your partner can build a healthy home that supports each other’s needs.

Talking is an important step to building a healthy relationship with your partner, family and friends. Healthy relationships are built on respect, open communication and the freedom to be comfortable, happy and honest.

Build A Support System

Life is hard. Each day, stress can affect your mind and body in the wrong way. It’s important that you don’t feel like you have to face stress alone. Find a friend, a family member or a co-worker who can help you work through the hard times. Whether they have answers or just listen to what’s on your mind, having a friendly and helpful ear can make all the difference. 

Get Help For Violence And Abuse

Violence against women can happen anywhere — including home or at work. Many times, abuse comes from someone the victim knows and trusts.

You may be experiencing abuse if your partner:

  • Continually watches your activities, in person or on social media.
  • Tries to stop you from going to work or seeing friends and family.
  • Tries to control your money, your medications (including birth control), what you wear or your eating habits.
  • Hurts you physically or threatens to do so.

If you are experiencing violence or abuse, get help in Waco by calling the Family Abuse Center or the Advocacy Center for Crime Victims & Children. The Family Abuse Center provides a 24-hour domestic violence hotline (1-800-283-8401), emergency shelter for victims, children’s services and counseling, crisis intervention, rural outreach, and support groups.

The Advocacy Center for Crime Victims & Children provides a 24 hour crisis hotline service (1-888-867-7233), sexual assault nurse examination, short term counseling and case management, and legal advocacy and assistance.

You may also contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline by calling 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY) or (206) 518-9361 (Video Phone — for callers with hearing impairments).

Additional Resources

For other resources around Waco that can help you maintain a healthy environment, check out our resource map.

Life Planning Tool

Be sure you download the Life Planning Tool. Continue to plan for your life ahead. Set priorities, map out goals and plan adventures. Your life is for you to live. Don’t let anything get in your way.