Let’s imagine, for a minute, that we are bumming a ride with Doc and Marty in the DeLorean beefed up with a flux capacitor. Our destination is the year 2008. During our adventures there, we come to know this girl:
We quickly learn that she carries a misconception that it is her role to do everything for everyone else. She feels massive amounts of guilt asking, even her hubby, for help. She doesn’t feel like she can take time away from her baby, who has made it clear that he doesn’t want to be with anyone but her. Even when he’s sleeping, she believes that she can’t leave the house because what if he wakes up? She can’t possibly impose on her husband to take care of this baby (Insert eye roll here).
Now, it’s really important to mention that her husband has never said or done anything to cause her to think this way; this way of thinking likely stems from her growing up years where she was forced into the mindset that she had to carry the load. This gal knew she was very blessed, and loved her family like you wouldn’t believe. But she had an emptiness because she allowed almost no room for taking care of her own physical needs.
She knew that she needed to do something different because she was actually very uncomfortable in her own skin. She didn’t like that she was the largest she had ever been, outside of pregnancy. It made her uncomfortable that she was still wearing maternity clothes for a handful of months after her baby was born. But she felt like it would be selfish for her to take a little bit of time in her day to go exercise.
Can you relate?
Thankfully, there was enough desire in her to begin making changes to her health. In the early days, she pushed the baby in the stroller as she walked circles around the University Village, where they lived. She had a couple workout DVD’s that she followed along to in their tiny apartment living room. Her husband even bought a Wii Fit that she dabbled with (remember those?). Taking these baby steps kindled a desire to train to run a 5k. She mustered the (will power? courage? drive?) to allow herself to leave the baby in the loving care of dad. Once again, that was only difficult for her because of her own flawed perspective, never because dad gave her any reason to think she shouldn’t. He has always been a safe and loving father. The issues only resided in her.
She finally committed to lacing up her running shoes, and spending a half hour, a few times a week following the Couch to 5k training plan. My goodness was that uncomfortable in the beginning! I believe that it’s safe to say that it took months before running felt like a comfortable endeavor for her. But the training process was empowering for her. She was able to lose weight. Her muscles and joints became stronger. She began to gain an appreciation for the way her body was able to move. She recognized how good she felt after a good sweat session!
Soon after, she got a student’s spouse pass to the University’s gym. Once baby was consistently sleeping through the night, she created a habit of waking up extra early to get in her exercise while he was sleeping. She didn’t have very much experience with weight lifting at that point. But she was very happy to go and utilize the various cardio machine options.
It didn’t take long for her to realize that a love for exercise was kindled in her. She knew that was going to be an important thing for her to do for herself for the rest of her life. Once she recognized that dire need, the unnecessary mom guilt dissipated quickly. She realized that consistent exercise actually “filled her cup”, and gave her a greater capacity to carry the responsibilities of being a mom.
The baby steps from that year expanded to bigger baby steps within the next few years. During that time she had another baby, trained for and ran a half marathon and full marathon, and switched from the University gym to a big box gym where she learned some of the ins and outs of weight lifting. Her confidence in her abilities expanded. She formed habits which became very ingrained in her. Plus, she fell in love with exercising in the 5:00 am hour. That became her time. She knew no one would need her then. Those uninterrupted hours were absolutely blissful. Plus, she no longer felt guilty for acknowledging that bliss!
Hop back into the DeLorean and travel back to today.
I can stop talking in third person now, right?
Although there are many things I have yet to figure out, I can say with absolute firmness that moms need to take care of their physical needs!
It was silly of me to feel like I was imposing upon my family for working to get my own exercise in. In all the years that these boys have been mine, they have never complained about me going to workout. Even in the seasons of marathon training where I was gone running for four hours at a time. They have always been completely supportive of my efforts at taking care of my own health.
If this is something you struggle with, making yourself a priority, I’m asking you to realign your priorities. You are important! Your physical well being is important! If your needs aren’t being met, then you’re going to find holes in your capacity to meet the needs of those who rely on you.
I’m not joking. Start today! Go look at your schedule. When can you take a half hour to get your body moving? Yes, if you haven’t been exercising it will be uncomfortable at first! It might feel difficult physically, mentally, and emotionally. But that passes! It all becomes easier, and then when you keep at it, it eventually becomes second nature. Try different types of exercise (You can find some new ones here). The options are plentiful. Just go. Don’t overthink it!
You are important enough to have your physical needs taken care of! So go pick out your workout outfit, and get it done! You’ve got this!
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