Growing up I was never really what you would call an athlete. I tried cross country once. I think I lasted 4 days before the 5:30am wakeup calls wore me down. I did marching band, choir and a high school musical each year and the only time I ever intentionally exercised was when I had a choir competition coming up to work on my breath control.
The year I turned 23 I had just moved back to the states and got invited to try out for roller derby. It changed my life in a few different ways, but the most impactful outcome was that I realized I am an athlete. I trained really hard for the sport and it showed, I was pretty good. I played for four years and decided that I wanted to try to start a family. Since then it's been difficult for me to find something else that keeps my body in such great shape that I also am passionately excited about. I trained for and ran a half marathon, basically hating every step along the way; I have worked out at CrossFit style gyms but don't have the stamina to keep up the intense workouts while also caring for children (props to those who make it work); I have tried working out at home. It's been very difficult for me to find a balance between caring for my body and still having the energy to be active with my super energetic toddler.
During the thirty days of self care I set aside in July I thought about physicality a lot. I listened to my body and tried to discern what it was needing from me. I found a few things that stuck out as important to me during my current season and surprisingly almost none of them had to do with exercise.
During my therapy sessions Jenny regularly said "good breath" after I process something difficult and then take a deep breath afterward. She says it so regularly that my friends who also go to Jenny and I often say it to one another. I have found that beginning my day with some deep breaths and finding some positive affirmations has been really great for how I feel.
Something else I realized during the last month is that I was not drinking enough water. I finally set a goal to drink at least 120oz a day, which is just under a gallon of water. I used to look at people who carried around gallon jugs with them all day like they were crazy. I'd roll my eyes and think, "why would you need that much water?"
I totally get it now. After about three weeks of consistently drinking at least 120oz of water per day I feel amazing. My skin looks great, my body feels great, I haven't been craving nearly as many empty calories, I rarely get headaches, my joints feel better. I could go on and on. I start with 8oz of room temperature water each morning with lemon essential oil, and then drink the rest of it 20oz at a time using a rubber band system. At the beginning of the day I put five colorful ponytail holders around my glass and throughout the day as I finish a glass of water I take one off at a time. Having the very small reward of taking off a ponytail holder is so encouraging.
This is pretty straight forward, nothing special - my body feels better when I stretch regularly. I have been trying to do this at night before I go to bed and would like to try to add in a stretch session first thing in the morning. Co-sleeping has added a lot of tension to my neck and shoulders, and did I mention that I have a toddler who likes to use my body as rock climbing practice? Yes, stretching is good.
Okay, I'm going to keep it real with you guys - this is one area that stuck out to me that I have not figured out yet. I need to get to bed earlier, but like most stay at home moms I covet my evenings when my kids and my husband are all asleep and I am alone. Completely and utterly alone, not being touched or interrupted. It's the only time during the day I can get into any kind of "flow," and I have yet to find the balance of getting enough sleep and still finding the space to feel rejuvenated and at peace and clearheaded. I have not found the solution but recognizing there's a need is half the battle, so I'm halfway there. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
A couple of weeks ago I woke up in the a pretty stinky mood. Kyle and I weren't communicating that morning that I was just in a funk. Kyle left for a meeting and I sat on my couch and this light bulb came on. In the words of my girlfriend India "I choose, to be the best that I can be, to be courageous in everything I do; because you never know where life is gonna take you and you can't change where you've been, but today I have the opportunity to choose."
So I did just that. I put on some music and I danced it out. I spent the day chasing my daughter, ignoring my phone as best I could and just having fun, enjoying life. Now, there's always room for all the feelings, right? We have to be sad when we're sad and alla that. But sometimes you can just shake it off. It's hard to dance with the devil on your back, you know?
This was a lot. If you read through it all I really appreciate it. I'll be following up with a couple more posts about what I learned during the month of July and my intentional look at self care.
What are your favorite ways to take care of your body?