It’s not often that a meme on Facebook makes me break down into tears. My Dad (the retired teacher and wisdom-distributor extraordinaire) has always said that when you need to learn a lesson, life presents a teacher. And last week, the unlikely teacher of a lesson I desperately needed to learn was my Facebook News Feed.
I was wading through the sea of political parodies and cat videos and delicious-looking recipes, and stopped short when I saw a simple image with an empty coffee cup. I don’t remember who posted it. And I didn’t save the original image (I just made my own version!), but it definitely stuck with me.
Wow. Holy, truth bomb, Batman. My cup feels dangerously close to empty. For anyone who has ever felt like you were the only one who didn’t have it all figured out, and that everyone’s Instagram-perfect lives are infinitely better, prettier, and more polished than yours, let me drop some honesty on you: I have no clue what I am doing. I am not even a little bit perfect. I am still trying to figure everything out. And my cup is almost dry.
I could write a 10,000 word blog post on all the things that aren’t perfect in my life (um, my baseboards are crazy dusty, yo), but for now, I’m going to stick with one big, imperfect aspect of my life that is really wearing on me—my health. I just flat out haven’t figured out yet how to nurture my family, my career, and myself all at the same time. I’ve got a sneaking suspicion I’m not the only parent struggling with this one. Raise those hands up, friends, and bask in the solidarity of joint imperfection.
I used to be really good at knowing how to be healthy. The evidence of this is well documented in the archives here. Making excuses doesn’t get me anywhere, but I will say that, when I had two hours a day to go to the gym, and all day Sunday to prep healthy food, and free weekends to go on epic hikes with my husband, living a healthy lifestyle felt easier. It felt natural.
Now, I don’t have that freedom in my day, and being healthy feels, at best, like an insurmountable chore, and at worst, like a frivolous, guilt-inducing waste of my limited time and energy.
But I know, logically, it is neither of those things. I have to take care of myself to take care of my family and my business. I have to fill up my cup to be able to pour from it. It isn’t a chore. It’s a non-negotiable. So, I’m doing what I always do when something feels wrong in my life—I’m making a plan!
This may sound obvious, but one of the best lessons I think I’ve learned in my life is to stop resenting and start acting when something feels off. It can be easier said that done. But I always find that as soon as I have a plan written down in black and white, I already feel better. Any movement forward is better than no movement at all. And it’s really time for me to start moving forward to fill up my cup again.
If you’re reading this post and thinking, “Hmmm, this all sounds mighty familiar,” you’d be right. I’ve written about trying to work health and fitness back into my life as a mother before, and I’ve honestly never succeeded. I think I may have a clue as to why—I was always trying to fit my pre-parenthood definition of healthy into my post-parenthood responsibilities.
And, duh, of course that isn’t going to work. Of course I’m not going to take two hours, four times a week to go to the gym. I’m not going to be able to spend six hours on Sunday prepping salads for the work week. Just like wearing flip-flops in January, those kinds of thing aren’t appropriate for this season of my life. So my new philosophy: do what I can, when I can (#wycwyc). Here’s what I mean. I’m going to:
I’ve decided to go back to basics. I’m just going to walk. I’m not going to worry about getting my heart rate up high. I’m not going to worry about deadlifting heavy weights. I’m not going to worry about acting a fool in the back row of Zumba class. I’ve canceled my gym membership, and instead, I’m going to walk. I can walk. I can do that.
I’m going to walk around and enjoy this beautiful piece of property I own. I’m going to go on walks with my daughter and show her acorns and pretty leaves. I’m going to park a little bit further away from the grocery store door and hoof it. I’m going try to reestablish my habit of movement in the simplest way I know how—walking. Maybe eventually I’ll be able to fit long gym sessions back into my life, but it just isn’t in the cards for me now. Walking is.
My goal right now is to hit 7,000 steps per day—which sounds pretty low, but the nature of my job is that I spend a large chunk of it sitting at a desk, so 7,000 seems like a good place to start. I pretty naturally hit around 5,000 steps per day, so the extra 2,000 will be a nice little push to get up, get out, and get moving.
Get to bed earlier.
My bedtime has been pushing back later and later, and I can feel it in my energy levels during the day. I’m an early riser by nature, and that hasn’t changed (and if it had, the early-rising toddler wouldn’t let me sleep in), so there is no reason my bedtime should be any later. My goal is to have lights out by 9:00pm, which probably sounds crazy early to some of you night owls, but my natural clock wakes me up pretty consistently between 5-6am. I’m also planning on wearing a fitness tracker to help me track my sleep, too.
Part of getting to bed earlier is also allowing myself the freedom to wind down and have my own bedtime routine each evening. Once Juniper is in bed, I feel like I am rushing against the clock to get as much done as I can without a toddler underfoot. But I need to give myself some of that time, too. It’s the perfect time to do some cup filling. Before bed each evening, I’d like to spend 20 minutes sipping on some tea and reading a book.
Cut out the food that makes me feel yucky.
You’d think this would be a no-brainer. You eat something. It makes you feel yucky. So you don’t eat it again. Nope. That isn’t how my sugar-, caffeine-, and booze-loving brain works. My body hates the stuff. My brain loves it. My goal over the next few weeks is to gently ease myself out of my dependence on the foods that don’t make me feel great. The first big one is coffee. I love coffee. But coffee doesn’t love me.
I actually was off the java for years, and my body felt amazing, but the exhaustion of parenthood lured me back into the loving arms of the devil juice. My goal is to ease myself off my coffee habit and back into my green tea habit. I still get the caffeine boost and the antioxidant boost, without the side effects that leave me feeling less than wonderful.
Eventually, I’ll tackle both sugar and alcohol (neither of which make me feel great), but I’ll start with the coffee for now. Baby steps, and all.
Create daily cup-filling moments.
I am not in a place in my life where I can fill up my cup by spending a weekend away at a spa. Or dropping thousands of dollars on a new wardrobe. But I can fill my cup up with a manicure here. I can take 10 minutes and do a guided meditation. I can take a bubble bath. These little things are what will lead to a healthier and happier me.
I’ve written about my life in one from or another for decades now, and as much as I love sharing with the world here, the audience has become a bit too large for me to feel comfortable sharing my deepest and darkest. I’ve decided to bring out the pen and paper for the first time since high school, and start a daily journal again. I’m not planning on writing the Dear Diary style boy-crazy entries I wrote in middle school, but I would like a way to reflect on my day. Just a line or two will do wonders.
I know all of this sounds really simple and like total common sense, but I think it’s important for me to get back to a foundation of health—I still haven’t figured that out. I need to go back to basics. Back to my roots, if you will. I feel so excited to have a plan of attack. A doable plan of attack. I am incredibly grateful that my friends at JCPenney outfitted me with some awesome new fitness gear to help me out with my new charge to get healthier. They have a really awesome selection of fitness watches, smart watches, and fitness trackers, as well as workout clothes and shoes in a wide range of sizes and styles.
Honestly, I’ve been pretty defeated trying to find trendy workout gear in my size, so I was thrilled when I found out the JCPenney carries a full line of plus-size workout clothes. It might sound silly, but cute workout clothes always help me feel more motivated to get out and get moving.
Here’s the awesome gear I nabbed from my local JCPenney:
- Garmin vivoactive Smartwatch in Black
- Xersion Fitted Plus Leggings in Black
- Xersion Rouched Hooded Jacket in Purple Heather
- Nike Revolution 2 Women’s Running Shoes in Grape