My father and father-in-law are both retired. After years of serving others as educators, they each came to the realization that we must cater to our own needs.
Each of them has told me, separately, that they now reserve two hours of each day for self-care. As a working mother and wife of someone who travels significantly, my initial response was to consider that a luxury of time that I could not afford. In fact, there was even a part of me that felt taking two hours a day of me-time was good for them, but would be selfish of me.
Then I visited my sister-in-law. No matter what was going on in the day, she would find a way to get her workout in. I would hear her say: “Sure I can do that, just gotta work out first” or “I’ll meet you guys, after my workout.” As someone who would put almost anything ahead of working out – especially a family obligation – my mind was blown. Not blown in a “I can’t believe she would do that” kind of way, but blown in a “I wish I had that kind of commitment to myself” kind of way. But, as I continue to think about it, she isn’t the only one.
Let’s consider my friend Yvette. Yvette is 51 and looks 27. She has a fit physique and her hair ALWAYS looks amazing. I distinctly recall trying to schedule a meet-up with her years ago and hearing her say something like: well I can’t do it at this time or that time, because I’ll be in my workout; and I can’t do it at that time because I’m getting my hair done. And again, I’m not reflecting with judgment, but rather admiration. It’s like, duh: you want a fit body and great hair? Keep your workout and hair appointments!
But I know there are so many women like me: sacrificing their self-care, for what we convince ourselves are more pressing matters. Until one day we look in the mirror and we wonder where our vitality has gone. That was me, 43, feeling 53, with no one to blame but myself.
So in January, I decided enough was enough. I committed to working out. I found a hairstyle that supported my working out (#blackgirlprobs). I used my Apple watch to make sure I got in 12,000 steps per day – even if it meant going up and down the stairs in my house at the end of the day to get to it. And in five months, I felt so much better. I lost 30 pounds and was feeling like a much-improved version of myself. I even started running. Each and every trip I went on included my running shoes and workout clothes. I had not met my goal weight, but I felt great and even wore a two-piece on an actual public beach.
I wish I could tell you there was a happy ending – that I kept up this commitment to myself and made it to my goal. But honestly, I lost my way sometime mid-summer. I stopped charging my watch and had more and more days going by without lacing up my running shoes. Until one day I took a long hard look in the mirror and felt that renewed self slipping away.
I realize I was able to commitment before because I had specific goals – events I wanted to look good for: Europe in March and my best friend’s grand party in July. I created a false sense of a finish line. But those events were not really the finish-line. I should’ve considered those events as mile-markers and, once I arrived there, established new ones. Hindsight is always twenty-twenty, as they say.
While I have regained some of the weight, it is not all back. So I am ready to start anew. I have recharged the watch, dusted off the running shoes, and am looking ahead to the next mile-marker and the one after that, and the one after that…
HERE ARE A FEW TIPS THAT HELPED (AND WILL HELP) ME ALONG THE WAY:
- Track your steps—set a daily goal of 12,000.
- Weigh yourself daily. I gained weight because I wasn’t paying attention.
- Set mini-goals. Think ahead to an event a few months away and set that as a mile-marker. When you reach it, set another. Keep going.
- Find an accountability partner, someone to cheer you on and remind you why you started.
5.Reserve 2 hours for self-care daily…we’re worth it