Last On The List

Taking care of yourself is not easy. It’s especially difficult when you have 2 kids and they are your priorities. Every day, I take a look at my calendar and it’s filled with everything I need to take my kids to or get done for my family. Currently, I’m using their nap time to write this post.

It’s more than likely that if you have kids, you get caught up in their daily lives. You keep taking your one step in front of another to realize that you have gone a while without doing anything for yourself.

It’s another type of downward spiral. If you keep putting yourself last, you’ll be (guess where?) last.

The funny thing is that my husband would tell me to take nights off and go write or go spend time with friends or go do whatever. But I feel/felt guilty. I feel like he is working so hard to take care of all of us. How can I just push more work onto him when he is finished with his actual work? How can I not be there for my kids just because I’m tired?

And the worst part is that if I choose not to take the break, I resent everyone else for it.

It took me a while to figure this out. I wasn’t a better person for putting everyone else first. I was angry that I never got to do anything for myself. I was angry that I felt unimportant to everyone else. I wasn’t happy. Basically, I felt like my kids’ maid and that was all I was good for.

This wasn’t going to change without me putting in some effort. Obviously, the kids need me. Obviously, I need to do my part in helping the household function. So it involved some thought and practice on changing the way my life was scheduled.

Now, I wake up early to exercise so I can’t blame anyone else for missing a workout. The days I don’t is because I prioritize sleep since that is what my body needs that day. I’ve been making plans with people and not feeling guilty about it. Even if that little seed of doubt enters my mind, I try to make it leave because really, I’m a better wife and mom because I do take the break.

We try to go out on weekly or semi-monthly dates. I used to feel guilty about leaving my kids with their grandparents but I’ve realized that they all seem to be having fun so what am I feeling guilty about? I might as well have fun too.

And I’m loving writing again. It took me a while to get back into this because I was so busy trying to take care of everyone else that my mind became super blocked. The thought of putting words down started feeling overwhelming. I kept pushing it off until I couldn’t anymore. I enjoy doing this. So I have added it to the list of things I want to do for myself.

There are 100 other things that I’d love to add to that list and maybe as my kids get older, I can. But, for now, finding some way, any way to do something for myself that I look forward to on a daily basis is enough.

Yes I’m Vain….But It Keeps Me Healthy

When I was 15, my metabolism quit. Like it got up and said “F*** you” and left. Prior to that, I was a super skinny kid and didn’t really worry about what I ate. After that, it’s like everything I ate just stayed on me. I ended up at around 130 pounds at the time. For a 5’2″ girl, there’s nowhere for that weight to really go that will look attractive. I wasn’t consistently athletic at the time so it wasn’t even muscle weight.

Now take a look around you. Take a look at yourself. Are you in shape? Are you taking care of yourself? Are you being healthy?

If the answer (the honest answer) is no, join the club. There are way too many of us out there that aren’t taking care of ourselves. The American Heart Association recommends walking around 10,000 steps or 5 miles per day. This is hard. I bought myself a Fitbit because I thought I must be easily hitting this number daily chasing my kid around plus working out once a day but nope. I still have to take another walk and really push my activity levels to hit this number. I rarely ever reach 5 miles. It’s frustrating.

After my metabolism quit, it took me another 6 years to come out of denial that I couldn’t just eat what I want and not work out and look like how I wanted. I always wanted to have the perfect body. I’ve always been a perfectionist. And somehow I thought that it would just come to me without me having to work for it.

One day, I looked at a picture of myself and saw how I looked in a shirt I really liked. It felt awful. I realized that I wasn’t just going to magically get into shape. It was, at the moment, I decided that I didn’t want to feel like that again. I joined a gym and started counting calories. I lost a ton of weight and not only was working out regularly but had joined a professional dance team so I was dancing regularly. I felt stronger and healthier.

I’m writing this because when I look around me and see so many people who don’t seem care, it’s frustrating and scary to me. My metabolism quit early and it took me 6 years to figure out what to do about it. But, mine quit earlier than it does for a lot of others. For those of us who are¬†entering our 30s and inching towards our 40s, there are things that won’t work as well as they did before. We are at higher risk for health problems if we don’t start taking care of ourselves as soon as possible.

I’m sure a lot of you are thinking that you like the way you look or you’ve accepted your bodies for what it is. I applaud that. Here’s the thing. We don’t have to have the perfect bodies but we shouldn’t be treating our bodies like trash cans either. We don’t have to not enjoy food but we shouldn’t ignore the consequences of what we are eating as well. The point is that we aren’t eating healthier and exercising to look like supermodels. We are doing it so we feel better about ourselves. We are doing it so we can be there in the future to take care of our children. We are doing it so we don’t miss out on something just because we thought it was too much work when we were younger and couldn’t be bothered.

Unfortunately, I see way more people around me who don’t care than do. I hope they realize that change starts when you take the action to change. I’m hoping that most people understand that those who are physically fit really work hard at it. It doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Even for those people who are naturally thin, they have to watch what they eat and work out so they don’t end up with other health issues.¬†In the end, we should all feel better about ourselves not only physically but emotionally.

Exercising and eating right does wonders for your mind and soul as much as your physical body. For me, it’s a coping mechanism. It helps my stress levels stay down and for me to deal with whatever problems happen in my life. It also boosts my confidence levels regardless of what I look like or how I’m feeling at the moment. There are plenty of times I’ve gone into a dance practice or work out feeling down or mad and 3o minutes later, I will feel really good about everything because I just needed to take a break from my mind and focus on my physical activity instead.

There are plenty of groups and articles to help you learn how to take care of yourself if that is where you are stuck. This is something I really believe in (even if I slip up every so often and eat a bag of jelly beans myself or have more alcohol than I probably should have). I hope you will be inspired to take the step to treat yourself with the respect you deserve.