I have always been an active, body conscious person. In fact, for too many years of my life, I was so body conscious that it almost cost me my life.
For years, I waged war on my body; struggling to fight and control my inner demons with outward behaviors of self destruction. It’s been a long journey toward health, one that I am still on, and likely will be on forever in many ways.
This past year, I have been trudging the road toward health in all aspects of my life. Exercise and fitness have been a catalyst in propelling me forward as I have learned to break the chains of dysfunction and disease physically, mentally and spiritually. I am not perfect, nor will I ever be perfect. This journey has in fact been about exactly the opposite of striving for perfection. It has been about learning to embrace my imperfections, learning from my mistakes, and healing in spite of my wounds.
It has been about letting go of the need for a perfect body, but rather learning to love the body I was given, while using it to heal me rather than destroy me.
Through this process, I have learned to appreciate the flaws that make me beautiful. I am learning to forgive the marks of motherhood and celebrate the meaning of them. And I am beginning to fully embrace myself, as I am, while continually working to improve myself from the inside out.
Fitness as a mom is a challenge. It doesn’t matter whether you are a stay at home mom, a working mom, a single mom or a mom with 12 sister wives. Finding the time to take care of yourself while also taking care of your babies seems almost impossible at times. But I have found, it is necessary!
But not just to get a better body.
In fact, that aspect almost needs to be taken out of the equation. We mamas have to take care of ourselves because if we don’t, no one else will. And if we don’t take care of ourselves, we won’t be here to take care of our babies as long as we’d like…or at least not as well as we’d like.
The amazing thing I have found is that when I stopped striving for the perfect body, when I stopped destroying myself to fit the image of what I thought I needed to be, and when I started healing from the inside out, I not only felt better on the inside, I also started to look better on the outside.
Fitness for me has been a lifeline this past year. I began working out daily with my boys before I went back to work full time, and honestly, I was worried about how I’d be able to maintain that once I was working 40+ hours a week. It was already a struggle even being home all day, so I questioned how I’d be able to manage it when I was gone and then needing to play catch up in the evenings to spend time with my boys.
The truth is, there are not enough hours in a day. But it’s about priorities. And I am finally on the list.
My boys are obviously my first priority and they come above everything else. But I have learned to squeeze myself in there somewhere too.
I used to work out however and whenever I could, usually with the boys running around me like a crew of crazed lunatics who just busted free from the psych ward. It was challenging. I still do it this way occasionally, but I try not to, both for their sanity and for mine. I will say though, they do make it more fun sometimes and Luke makes a really great extra weight at 27 pounds of cute!
At the end of the day after the boys and I have been apart for 10ish hours, there are only about 2 hours left before they have to go to bed so we can start all over the next day. Each minute is precious.
They need me.
They need all of me, fully present and available for only them. And I need them too.
As such, during the week, I either workout at 4:00 A.M. before work, or I workout around 9 P.M. after I have gotten the boys in bed. It’s a challenge either way because somewhere in life, you do have to sleep. I do miss a day or two sometimes, but I have finally gotten into a pretty good pattern and overall, it’s working well for everyone.
On the weekends, I either workout while the boys watch Paw Patrol or I throw Luke on my back and include him in the workout, either while the others sleep or join in with me. I typically workout somewhere between 20 and 45 minutes each day, and that’s all I can manage. I do hard workouts so that the time is well spent; but I’ve seen that short period of time is enough to shape not only my body, but also my mind and my spirit.
As I have said before, my goal is not to become a fitness model. My goal is to become a model of fitness for my boys, not just physically but in all areas of my life.
I think it is important for them to see me taking care of myself and making myself a priority sometimes. We moms give all we have to our kids, and that’s the way it is supposed to be. But in order to succeed in that endeavor, we have to also take care of ourselves. We have to show our children that we matter too.
I don’t believe the only way to do this is through fitness, but for me, it has been a huge part of my healing and it has benefited us all.
I don’t have the best body around. I still have skin that hangs down when I bend over, and no number of planks is ever going to make that go away. I have stretch marks on my stomach, and no amount of exercise will remove those from my body.
But moms don’t have to be frumpy and disheveled all the time. They don’t have to never take care of themselves and be neglected martyrs for their families 24/7. It is possible to both take care of yourself and your children successfully. It may not always be easy, and we do still typically get the left overs of “me time,” but it is possible and I have found it is absolutely essential to my survival.
I’m not saying that means we all have to be fit and thin and chiseled. In my opinion, strong and healthy is so much more beautiful than thin.
As long as I am strong mentally, spiritually, and emotionally, the physical strength will follow and I will be able to run the race that God has set out for me.
I will be on this journey for the rest of my life, but I have learned that strong is the new thin, and I finally matter enough to myself to create that strength from the inside out!