3 Steps To A Happier You By Carri Duke

Hi, my name is Carri Duke. I am a Kansas-born but East Tennessee raised girl. I am a wife, mom, runner and teacher. I also have a small bread and dessert baking business on the side. I hope you find my tips of how I have balanced fitness and health while working and being Mommy to 2 amazing children! Feel free to follow me on Facebook (@Carri Duke) and Instagram (@thedukesof4) for inspiring fitness tips.


Looking back over the last 8 years, I think and wonder how have I done it. You see 8 years ago I became a first time Mommy to a beautiful little girl. Then 1 year later my husband and I were delivered some unexpected news that our daughter had Type 1 Diabetes to which there is no cure.

I devoted myself to the care of our daughter 24/7 and noticed it was starting to take the toll on my own body. Having been an avid runner since 10th grade, I found myself needing to take control of my own personal health once again.

Thankfully, I used the power of the web to connect with some local runners and workout partners. I then sat down with my husband and explained that I needed this time away, may it be only 30 minutes, to recharge my personal battery in order to care for our family. I told him “Healthy Momma = Happy Momma”.

I tell you all of this to layout three main points that have helped me continue on this road, even after going back to work full-time, adding on to our family with an active little boy in 2011, and now stepping away from my original full-time job to begin my own business.

  1. Make yourself a priority.

I must tell you that I am a pastor’s wife, and we hear all the time that our priorities are God, Family, Others then You. I love this; however, if we don’t make our own personal health and wellness a priority then we will not be able to meet the needs of our family and others with our greatest potential.

One of the ways I make sure that my health is top priority in my day-to-day life is by sitting down just before bed and putting on a sticky note my to-do list for the next day. ALWAYS at the top of my to-do list is my exercise plan for the next day. Even if a few things happen before then, I make it my goal to cross this item off first, which leads me to a better attitude and energy to accomplish tasks the rest of the day.

In addition to my exercise plan, I also write out breakfast, lunch and dinner on a separate sticky note so I have a plan. This allows me to be prepared and to stick to healthy choices and, hopefully, not have to pass through the drive through at dinner time when I am exhausted after a long day of work and Mommy-life.

2. Set goals.

Back in 2009, just after my daughter was diagnosed with diabetes, my running group set a goal of running the St. Jude Marathon. We all kind of laughed at ourselves when we set this goal in May with the race being in December, but I had something tangible in front of me to work towards.

I still use this practice today. I have broadened this practice into setting not only fitness goals but also health goals. I start with a long term goal, then break it down into smaller bite size pieces as to not get discouraged. I like to set myself pampering rewards (i.e., pedicure, a new pair of earrings, make-up, etc.) because after all it takes work to meet these goals and nothing makes you feel even better after meeting a goal than looking your best.


3. Involve family and others.

As I mentioned before, when I decided to take back my health and fitness as a priority I sat down with my husband to communicate my goals. Even today, I talk to my entire family about my goals to improve my health. You will find that it will start to rub off on them too. My now 5-year old son has set a goal to complete his first 1-mile race this year.

I also have set-up an accountability partner. She and I talk on a regular basis via text, e-mail and in person. She and I exchange our goals and check-in daily with how we are doing reaching our goals. Accountability is HUGE! I have tried many times to accomplish goals on my own and they don’t work out.


I know, especially if you are first time mom, this can seem overwhelming. Let me be the first to say, give yourself grace and take it one day at a time. Not every day is going to work out as planned. Even if you don’t find the time to workout, at least find 15 minutes to do something that energizes you. You will notice just those 15 minutes will make a world of a difference in the remainder of your day.


Most importantly, find time to celebrate in the accomplishments you have made in the goals you have set no matter how small or big they may be. Because, after all, you are important!





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