Back in the day I was physically active, possibly even semi-athletic, and felt great. However, over the years I have continued to add more and more to my plate. As I have added more, I feel like there has been less and less time to take care of myself, both physically and mentally.
This past fall I was diagnosed with shingles. Oh my! It is painful. First, I was surprised I could get shingles at my age. I thought it was something that only older adults got. Second, I was surprised to find out I gave them to myself! Between working full time, going back to school again, raising two kids, driving said kids to and from all of their after school activities, and having a husband that travels, my body had enough and retaliated. My doctor told me I needed to lay off the stress. Which made me literally laugh out loud! Easier said than done. I brainstormed some ideas on how I could reduce my stress and I decided to start going to the gym. Even though I made the decision to go, I was not very consistent. I still didn’t have time to go. There were always things popping up like last minute trips to the pediatrician or needing to run to the store to pick up a few things we forgot during our weekend grocery trip. There was always something.
After an unexpected visit this winter with a cardiologist (all is well!), I decided I really needed to take care of myself. I needed to do something physical and something that could help me relax and reduce stress. I sat down and talked to my husband (who has a very consistent gym schedule that I am still jealous of!) about creative ways we could adjust our schedule so I could get to the gym. He helped me map out days I could go to the gym before work and he would take care of dropping our kids off and days that I could go after work and still have time to pick up the kids for their activities. He was supportive and flexible in adjusting his schedule so I could take care of myself for a bit.
I have been able to get to the gym two to three days a week consistently. I still “don’t have time,” but we have carved out time for me to go. I go to the gym to “Burn off the Crazy!” The crazy of my daily schedule. The crazy of my overflowing plate. The crazy of just life. Gym time is ME time! I am alone with my thoughts and my iPod. There are no kiddos pulling on my shirt, tapping on my shoulder, or asking me to get them a thousand things at once. No dog whining at the door to be let out, then back in, then back out again in a vicious repetitive cycle. No Outlook calendar prompting me for meetings. It is just ME! After just 30 minutes at the gym I feel accomplished, I feel ready to tackle my ever growing to-do list and I am actually getting more things crossed off of the list! I am more productive, less stressed, more patient and happier … which has made me feel like a better mother. Finally, I am proud to be physically active again and to be able to model for my children the importance of leading a healthy and physically active lifestyle.