Friday, September 21, 2018

Sometimes you have to be your own parent

Adulthood comes with multiple responsibilities. As kids we thought that grown-ups had it all. They could stay up as late as they wanted to and eat ice cream for breakfast. I'll admit I've done both, but neither were as satisfying as I hoped. The ice cream upset my stomach and left me feeling more hungry for actual real food. Staying up super late just left me more tired and grumpy in the morning.

In this way, being an adult, you have the freedom to take care of yourself how you want to. Your extra responsibility is the one you have over your own health and well-being.

Why is it that when it comes to our kids, we're all set to lay down rules and routines - and with good reason! - but when it comes to our own selves and bodies, we slack off and give in to the fatigue, the sometimes laziness, and lack of discipline; or we just don't make the time.

We know what's good for us, like eating healthy, avoiding sugar, fast food, and junk food; and exercising. So how can we advocate a healthy lifestyle for those that we love, but it's so hard to discipline ourselves?

The idea of self-discipline is huge. This doesn't mean that you have to punish yourself for eating candy, but it does mean that your decisions are contributing to your health status.

Today I want to motivate you to take control over your health and your body. Be your own parent.

Start with physical activity. This is something a lot of us have issues with, typically because we're either too tired or we don't have the time. But think about that... exercise is something that is vital to our physical, mental, and emotional health but we're too tired or can't make time for it? That's like saying you're so busy that you can't eat - which isn't uncommon! So how can we get around this?

[Journal assignment]: It's time to re-prioritize. For a couple days, grab a note pad or journal and before you go to bed, document everything you accomplished or did that day. What does that look like? First of all, can you remember everything you did during the day? Second, how many tasks are you completing that are for other people? How many items do you accomplish that are just for you and your own self-care?

If you find that list is void of anything that improves your overall health, it's time to re-evaluate your days. Start with something simple: schedule in 20 minutes for you every day. If you want this to be a workout or activity, maybe you give yourself 20 minutes for the activity, and 5-10 mins before and after for any "set-up" and/or "clean-up."

I have lazy days just like everyone else. Days were I feel tired and I'm way too comfortable to move. But I also realize how much worse I'll feel if I do nothing: within 3-4 days of being sedentary, I'm a moody mess. And that's when I force myself to get out there. Make a plan: Visualize what you think you can manage doing (yoga, a run or walk, workout video, etc), then get dressed and prep your space.

I've had to kick my own ass to get out for a run, or stay in for a workout, and by the time I'm finished, I'm incredibly grateful. There's nothing quite like the feeling of finishing something that is physically tough or uncomfortable. Even if it's only 20 minutes of yoga. Hold a plank pose for 60 seconds and see how you feel.

Second, take your To-Do list (if you have one... if you don't, start making them) and add on at least one activity that is solely for you. It could be anything such as:
  • Meditation (anywhere from 5-20 minutes). Use a audio clip or YouTube video for guided meditations and body scans. 
  • Brisk walk or jog (20-60 minutes)
  • Journalling or writing (5-30 minutes)
  • Creative projects, knitting, and crafts, etc
  • Play a musical instrument
  • Yoga or Tai Chi (15-60 minutes)
  • Aquafit or swimming
  • Read a book (not the internet)
  • Try a new recipe for something healthy
  • Walk barefoot through the grass
  • Go for a bike ride (rent one in the city if you don't have your own)
  • Make a pot of tea and invite a few friends over (or even just one awesome friend or neighbour)
  • Play a sport: it could be an organized game, or just playing keep-up with a volleyball or beachball. 
  • Take a class in the community (in whatever interests you)
20-30 minutes out of 24 hours per day isn't a lot to ask of yourself. Now, granted, you may be a parent with a child glued to your hip, so maybe a half hour really feels like too long. This is where a great support system comes in handy. Use the time when your little one is napping to take care of you; or ask for help 1/2 an hour per day and have someone watch your little one for you. Or, you can do your activity with them. If they're super little, they can roll around on a yoga mat, lay under you while you're in downward dog. You can use them as a body weight for doing Bridge work (lay on the floor with knees bent and feet on the floor; Sit baby on your pelvis. Keeping your upper back and shoulders pinned down, lift and tuck your pelvis, holding onto baby. This is a great quad and glute toner, and baby will think you're playing :)

Most importantly, you're also being a great role model for health and self-care. Your kid(s) will grow up aware of a lifestyle that includes healthy aspects and activities. My mom used to do workout videos all the time when we were little including those by Jane Fonda and Cher. I grew up trying to wear her ankle weights, drawing butterflies on her elevation 2x4" block of wood, and jumping and dancing to cheesy 80's background music. Fast forward to today and I have her old videos now on DVD and still use them religiously. 

All of these principles can be related to multiple aspects of our health and well-being. Self-discipline includes maintaining a healthy diet for you. Keeping up with your physio exercises. Flossing daily. Drinking an adequate amount of water everyday. Reducing alcohol consumption. Reducing caffeine consumption...

... These are all things we know are good for us but we tend to slack off more than we should. Now it's time to take care of you.