“This post is installment #1 in the Self-Care Bank series.”
Self-care is about making space for yourself. Space to feel, space to think, space to be. Building a self-care bank is a great defense mechanism for end-of-term stress. One of the ways I make daily deposits into my SCB is making space in my life to exercise.
It’s a fact: regular exercise does you a world of good both physically and mentally and helps you manage stress. Unfortunately for many of us (going out on a limb here and making an assumption), getting regular exercise is a lot like flossing. We know we should, we have the intention of doing it, and we feel guilty when we exaggerate how often we do it when someone brings it up. We only get to it when there’s a real need.
What’s stopping you?
Maybe you’ve decided that getting regular exercise is how you’re going to make a deposit in the self-care bank. And maybe you’re reading this thinking it’s great in theory, but just not something you can do. How can we go from the idea of “I should go to the gym more” to actually exercising?
Here’s what has stopped me in the past (and honestly, the present).
- I don’t have time.
- I am tired.
- People will look at me, judge me. Spandex is pretty unforgiving.
- Gyms are expensive.
- One burpee and I am a hot mess.
- Did I mention I don’t have time?
Do any of these sound familiar? Here are the Aha Moments that have gotten me through these mental roadblocks.
Aha Moment #1: I made an appointment
Throughout this series, I will say this over and over to help you internalize this concept: Making an appointment with yourself is the key to success for any of the SCB deposits. It’s making space in your life for you. When I attend evening classes, I plan around them as if they are a work meeting. Yes, mandatory 6:30 pm parent meetings can cause conflict. But because I honor the other appointments, I go to way more classes than I miss. When I attended morning classes, my family has to get itself going on their own until I get home, and they manage just fine without me.
Right now my workout appointment is first thing in the morning because that’s what fits. Make an appointment and then play whatever game with yourself that you need to to keep it. If it’s on your schedule and you honor it, then you’ll find you have time.
Aha Moment #2: I set sustainable goals
How many of us make a workout commitment and say “I am going to exercise every morning no matter what” and end up missing more days than they are going after about a month? With scheduled 5 am workouts, I always struggle to keep my “work out every morning no matter what” plan. Inevitably, I start skipping days to sleep in and slide down the slippery slope to skipping weeks entirely.
I’ve recently made an adjustment that has made keeping my workout appointments sustainable. Instead of failing at going to the gym 5 days a week, I now have 3 gym days (MWF) and 2 dog walking days (TTh). On the dog walking days, I give myself permission to sleep a little later. No matter what, the dog has to be walked, preferably at a brisk pace. It’s astonishing how much of a difference this little accommodation has made in terms of my ability to keep up with my goals. Having done this for a bit, I have yet to pass on a day.
If you find adding self-care deposits into your life is overwhelming you, then it’s counter to its purpose. This is a choose-your-own-adventure program. Make the changes you need to make for you and set goals you can sustain.
Aha Moment #3: I found a community
While the first two aha moments are the most critical, I want to share this other aha moment. A lot of my reasons to not exercise (besides time) involve me not wanting to be in a space where I feel I will be judged. I also prefer a class setting to motivate me and make it more enjoyable. This contradiction makes it hard for me to show up to that first class.
To get myself through this, I found a community. By that I mean, I found classes with instructors and classmates that made me want to show up. I found my first community by complete luck. When I managed the courage to go to my first Zumba class that I found on a flyer in my kids’ elementary school, I ended up tapping a community that cared about being active, supporting each other, and having fun. My fitness path has changed over the years, but I still count many in this group as close friends.
I found another community through a friend, who recommended I try this teacher Maria who taught a Boot Camp class. Wait, what? Boot camp? Isn’t that where they yell at you and make you do a million pushups and toss tires? Well, somewhat. While I feel a million burpees were involved, Maria never yelled at anyone. (Side note, she might correct my burpee count to more like a thousand.) Burpees aside, my friend was right. Maria is the type of fitness instructor who accepts you where you are and dedicates herself to helping you move forward on day one. What I love about Maria is that no matter what style of class she teaches, she sets the tone of doing what is right for you. She is always welcoming and accepting of whoever shows up, and those that attended her classes follow suit. I still hate burpees, but I will do them in class with Maria and her community any day.
What those two examples show is that I found the environment that got me to show up. If you need external accountability, find a friend to be your workout buddy. If you need a community, ask around, and you will likely find more than one. If you’re happy as a clam at the gym with your headphones on doing your thing. Good for you, (not for me). I applaud you. Whatever you do to get yourself there, just do it.
If being more active is that thing you’ve decided is your deposit in the SCB, can you motivate yourself to execute it? Can you outmaneuver that voice in your head that’s stopping you? Make space for yourself and show up for yourself. With practice, your brain and body will follow along.