I know self-care is important. One of the things modern-day parenting pounds into us is that we have to look out for ourselves, to treat our spirits like fragile baby birds. Nurture. By listening to our inner hearts and tending to them we can be better parents, spouses, and friends. It’s true.
I am really good at treating my spirit like a baby bird, all the soothing and protecting, but I wasn’t feeling much better about life. Baths are great; a good book is my happiness; meditating is also wonderful. But while those things are relaxing to me, was I really getting that sense of self-care with those activities? Did I feel like I was caring for my body in the way that made me feel better, more energized to be a mom?
So I decided to spend the month of January flipping the idea of self-care upside down. Instead of doing less in an effort to tend to my spirit, what if I did MORE?
In January, I decided to workout every day.
Now before you click away with an epic eye roll, know I am a real, average mom. I do not do Crossfit or want to do a triathlon in my spare time (because, really, I don’t have much). I drive two kids to their schools and all their activities and work 20-30 hours a week. I clean, cook, launder, and other Mom-things.
But I made a commitment to myself to spend every day doing a little bit of physical activity. I wanted to feel better about my body, like I cared for it. I wanted more energy. And, let’s be honest, I wanted to get off those extra holiday pounds without having to resort to drastic measures like Dry January. My fitness watch spoke a pretty sad story as to how much I actually moved in a day.
So I started my new journey with a trial of Les Mills On Demand. While I had been a Les Mills instructor for a decade, I stopped in the past year and my workouts were all over the place, whatever sounded right at the time. Not having a clear vision or routine meant I didn’t get to them. I scheduled over them.
I stumbled on the Les Mills service accidentally but was excited to see nearly all of my favorite classes (I miss BodyStep and BodyJam) available. But I still wasn’t sure I would use it. After all, I have workout DVDs collecting dust on my shelf.
Regardless, I decided to follow their 6-week recommended exercise schedule, just to see what happened. I was looking for change and there is no better way to find it than to actually change something. As I am an overachiever, I went straight for the intense version.
After the first few days, I decided I liked the program. So I took advantage of a Dick’s Sporting Goods sale and rewards points and bought standard plates (2 in 2.5 pounds, 2 in 5 pounds, and 2 in 10 pounds). Then I logged on to Amazon to buy this cheap bar set (affiliate link):
I didn’t invest in a step but, like I said, there isn’t a BodyStep class option, so it hasn’t seemed to hinder me too much.
I just finished Week 5 of the recommended intense schedule and…
Here are my thoughts on this journey to exercise every day as means to self-care:
I love the flexibility of at-home workouts.
As a gym-rat, I am addicted to the energy of being in a place where everyone is devoted to fitness and pushing their limits. It is impossible to not be affected by that. But as a busy mom, sometimes I only have 30-minutes a day to devote to fitness and it is between the hours of 4 – 4:30 pm or 8:00 – 8:30 pm.
I thought it would be hard to get motivated if I wasn’t putting gym classes into my routine, that I would slack, but it turns out I work out MORE when I set myself up for success and ease at home. I can jump in and do whatever I can with the time that I have instead of having to plan a drive and significant chunk of time.
I love the flexibility of the Les Mills On Demand programs.
They offer a variety of styles in both 30-minute and 60-minute formats. Yet they are professional, entertaining, diverse and hard! (PS- this isn’t paid or sponsored in any way. This is just me sharing something I want you to know.)
I love that I don’t have to do an On Demand program.
If I don’t want to look at a screen, I lace up my shoes and jog. Once a week I pay money to attend a hot yoga class. Or I meet a friend and walk. It still counts.
Doing some sort of workout every day isn’t that hard once you make it a habit.
That is really what the recommended workout schedule forced me to do: make it a habit. Every day I now incorporate getting a workout in just the same way I do meal preparation or doing laundry. In my mind, it is a requirement to call the day successful and there isn’t any drama about convincing myself anymore. The program made it a habit. Sometimes it’s a quick yoga flow before bed using Lesley Fightmaster, but there is always something.
I hate HIIT workouts.
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). They are all the rage right now and they are so hard. I do not enjoy any moment of those 30-minutes.
My body is changing.
I am not buff, I don’t have a 6-pack of abs (probably because I didn’t do Dry January and drank a 6-pack instead) and I didn’t lose 10 pounds. But I am stronger. I have more energy; I don’t crash at 3 pm every day. My runs are easier and longer and faster. What I want to do in my daily life is easier because of my commitment to working out.
My mind is changing.
I love my body. No more self-loathing or wishing I weren’t squishy. Oh, I am still squishy, but I love my squishiness now. My squishy is part of who I am and it doesn’t stop me from jumping, running, kicking, dancing, pressing and pushing. By working out daily, I spend more time focusing on what I can do instead of what I can’t. I love that I am young and healthy enough to move through the world.
I want to be really clear: working out every day does not mean I am hitting a high state of anaerobic respiration every time I do something. But instead of sitting, I am forcing myself to move in some way.
At the end of the day, my self-care journey still needs baths and massages and good books. But I have so much more energy to make time for those things and I love myself so much more when my self-care involves exercise. Is this sustainable for a year? I doubt it. I can’t imagine I will work out 365 days a year, and it isn’t my expectation (expect less, Allison!).
But, ultimately, pushing myself to commit outside of my Comfort Zone and think differently about integrating fitness into my life has been a welcome journey.
I have taken care of my Self.
This challenge was designed in September 2015 by me, to push myself outside of my comfort zone. I wanted to force myself to try new things, to learn to embrace my life, to take a situation where I was feeling sad and lonely and force a new perspective. I was feeling stagnant but I realized it was my own fault. There is way too much fun, adventure, laughter and good people in the world for me to feel sad. I didn’t have true goals when I started: just to get out of self-pity and to get in the middle of the road and rush straight forward.
This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post.
This week’s sentence is “When it comes to self care…”
Finish the Sentence Friday is a link-up hosted by Finding Ninee where writers and bloggers come together to share their themselves with a particular sentence. If you’d like to stay ahead of future sentences and participate, join our Facebook group. Link up your sentence prompts below!