Time passes all of us by so quickly. Things we sincerely intend to do don’t get done for months, years or ever. For many, achieving a desired level of fitness falls under this category. Is that true for you? Even as a professional in that field, it can be a battle for me.
The struggle for many women in this area centers around our very nature as nurturers. Providing companionship and attention to physical needs including nourishment, can be quite time consuming. Consider just handing a friend in crisis twenty-five dollars when they need you to listen. Would that be a suitable substitute for dropping everything to meet for coffee and confession and commiseration? In the sense of time management, probably but in the sense of relationship, never.
For years, I not only felt depleted by my responsibilities and commitments to people I cared about, I blamed myself for not handling it better. I chided myself for not being more grateful and more graceful in the management of it all. As if that weren’t enough, I felt alone in that struggle. I looked at other women and assumed the appearance of togetherness and balance was in fact reality.
Then, I started opening up. Which led to listening more closely when women shared details of their lives. What I learned was I was far from alone and that this lack of time for self is not exclusive, but is a struggle for most women.
I am a mother of three, two young adults and one in high school. I was a stay-at-home mom until beginning this full-time job (the paid kind) a couple of years ago. When my kids were young, I told myself to enjoy them and I’d get some for myself when they were all potty-trained and could dress and feed themselves. No, make that when they could entertain themselves for an afternoon. Just kidding, what I really meant to say was when they’re all in school. Or when they could do their own laundry. Or make their own dinner. Or drive. Or…okay, fine…never.
The hard truth was that me not dedicating some of my own time to me was all about my decisions, my bad habits, my excuses. I let guilt and doubt keep me from running, from going to the gym and other healthy pursuits because I thought those things were selfish. I thought my personal goals were trivial.
Even now, I tell myself that if I choose to lift weights, I may not have the energy to clean the house. Or if I choose to run instead of run errands, I may not be inspired to make some impressive meal for dinner. But wait…weight-lifting makes me very happy and running? Well, running delights my heart like no other hobby. It stills my mind, calms my spirit and provides emotional balance. Plus, when I make these choices for myself, I not only offer my family a better version of myself, I set an strong example for my kids, particularly my daughters, who will one day be busy women, too.
You may be asking yourself, “but how can I make this work in my life?”
The answer is as unique as you are. There is no formula or road map I can provide to make it all happen. What I can tell you is the answer lies within you. It is within your power. The beauty of pursuing greater health is that there are so many options for change that will produce results to get you in a cycle of behavior that rewards your efforts.
To get stronger and leaner, options range from getting up early for a 15-minute workout or stretch to joining a gym or hiring a personal trainer. Nutrition wise, you will see results from small changes such as adding more nutrient-dense foods to your daily food intake or drinking more water or more ambitious undertakings like working with a trainer or wellness coach to overhaul your shopping list and learn about food prep.
Some things to think about:
Be honest about the level of change for which you are ready. You aren’t competing with anyone here.
Starting small is enough. Seriously.
Negative self-talk is destructive. Think positively about yourself and your decisions.
Change is hard. Ask someone to be your cheerleader. We all need one!
Treat yourself like your best friend. Accept, love and care for beautiful, capable and amazing YOU!
In case I haven’t made myself clear, I do not write this as someone who has all this figured out. I write this as a woman who is learning to out-stubborn herself. (If that’s not a thing, I’m making it one.) All too often, that means laying out workout clothes on a dresser with an unfortunate layer of dust on it. As the days go by, I grow a little more at peace with that because I know that true balance and togetherness has to include valuing my own physical well-being.