I’m talking about you, Mama. In the trenches of motherhood, likely with either a whole bunch of kids or at least one who needs you to provide the basic necessities of food, clothing, hygiene, and Paw Patrol On Demand.
Some of you have outside jobs, some of you have no partner or one who isn’t available to help much, some of you have special needs children, other family members who need caregiving, a lack of baby-sitters or disposable income, or any number of extenuating circumstances that basically make you side-eye the term “self-care,” because who in the actual ___ actually has time for such a thing?
My friend and business partner Deanna and I have been having deeeeeep conversations about the definition of self-care: “…any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health.”
One of Deanna’s summarizing nuggets that I like best is:
Self-care is not simply what you want to do to feel good. It includes things that you must do.
Why is that important, Fellow-Mamas-In-The-Trenches?
Because we so often feel guilty about taking care of ourselves!
Let me tell you about my recent self-care decision. I had pretty much fallen off my new-ish fitness platform in May and June. My coach and friend, another F-M-I-T-T, told me about a new program being introduced by Beachbody that only required 4 workout days per week, for no longer than 40 minutes.
SIGN ME UP, I said.
She did. I was part of an early access group for Liift4, which combines weightlifting with cardio and targets different muscles groups per day, and core muscles every day.
I needed this so badly, y’all. My core/waist/abdomen/belly was a mess, the product of multiple C-sections and other abdominal surgeries, and 3 pregnancies in the last 5 years, plus… my love for southern food, nachos, and donuts. Those first few days of the program, the core exercises frustrated the living crap out of me. I felt like my upper and lower body wasn’t even connected.
But I stuck with it. I invited soreness, sweat, ugly weights shoved under my dresser, and closing off in my room at night instead of doing 20 other possible things. Because I am selfish? Delusional? Chasing a dream to be a world-class athlete?
No. Because exercise is something I must do. It is now one of my top forms of self-care in my life, because I want longevity, energy, and balance for the long haul!
My husband and kids see me pushing through, and they support me.
My friends see the difference in my physical form, and they cheer me.
But most importantly, I see changes, ones I’d been wishing for, but ones that would not come until I placed priority on the care of my own health.
What did I lose?
About 3 pounds (*I could have followed the nutritional protocol much more closely)
14 inches. 14! Including 5 from my waist. I can see my obliques. I stand amazed.
My desire to sit on the couch and veg every night because I’m tired, or to randomly eat junk.
The nagging aches in my back and knees and feet.
What did I gain?
The ability to jump (pl-yo moves!), lift, crunch, and even do a few real push-ups!
Definition and tone in my arms, legs, chest, back, and even my core.
Confidence. The kind that allows me not to be self-conscious every time I walk out the door, and I want you to know that that struggle has been real for me for years.
Flexibility and stamina – and these are things I notice in my everyday life. I am not trying to be a tri-athelete or win any competitions. But I am psyched that I can crouch in front of the washer and dryer long enough to throw all the wet stuff in and not have to sit all the way down or struggle to stand. I can carry groceries or my almost-40-pound son up and down the stairs without needing to recover. I’m not always depleted. I feel good.
Better fit into my clothes. I wouldn’t say I have gone down a size, yet. But I will say that the jean shorts my daughter-in-law bequeathed to me in June (as she is also on a victorious fitness journey) that I insisted I could only wear on the beach, because they were kinda snug, fell off of me in my kitchen last night!
What is next?
First of all, I will sing the praises of Beachbody on Demand all day long. When I am home for the night on my workout days, I slip into my workout clothes so I am ready to go when the moment comes. When I finish, I do what I need to do around the house, talk with my husband or kids, or get right in the shower and on to bed. I don’t have to drive anywhere, worry about childcare, or pay a recurring fee. For $99 a YEAR, I have access to over 700 workouts, everything from MMA style to yoga. I am going to do some hybrid things the next few weeks, and then starting another round of Liift4 in October. If you would like to join me, drop me a line or click here.
I will continue to explore what self-care means to me and F-M-I-T-T. I feel like with all things involving American women, it’s easy to fall into the potholes of competition. I know mamas who think of self-care in a variety of ways, from weekly massages to housekeepers to having husbands who makes sure there is always gas in the car to being able to have a few minutes every morning to drink a cup of coffee whilst it is still hot. This self-care thing – TAKING CARE OF US SO WE CAN TAKE CARE OF OTHERS – looks different for everyone.
For me, in this season, it looks like better health and a stronger me.
If you are struggling to determine what self-care looks like for you, I invite you to journey with us on The Refreshed Life Show. Deanna and I are passionate about this topic and about helping MAMA IN THE TRENCHES figure it out in a way that is sustainable for them. We air on Facebook every Wednesday at 9:30am ET, right here.