When Self-Care Feels Selfish

If you’ve ever watched any amount of Oprah or Dr. Phil, and come on, we all have at some point, you’re familiar with the saying, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” I get it. It totally makes sense, that it’s going to be really hard to do all of the things I need to do to take care of everyone else, if I’m run down and exhausted. Nevertheless, there are still days, almost two years into my weight loss journey, when taking care of myself feels selfish.

This has been on my mind a lot more lately with the arrival of summer break. During the school year, life falls into a routine. The older boys go to school during the day, and Tyson is fine doing whatever, as long as he’s with Mommy, or Grandma, or Nana.img_1911 He’s just happy to be around one of his favorite ladies. Everyone knows we get up, we go to school, and then we go to the gym.

However, now the carefree, unscheduled days of summer have arrived, and everybody is making adjustments. One adjustment Levi is making this summer, is trudging his way to the gym with Mom in the morning. If I don’t go to the gym first thing, the day always seems to get away from me. I get tired, and I’m afraid I’ll talk myself out of going. This shouldn’t be an issue, because my boys have been early risers from the moments they entered this world. A startling adjustment that I had to make, I might add. I don’t think either one of them has ever slept past 9 a.m. However, this summer, I’ve quickly realized that just because Levi is awake, it doesn’t mean he’s ready to do things.

The Struggle

So every morning that he’s at my house and not with his Dad, we have the same conversation:

Levi: “I hate going there, the three year olds jump on me!

Me: “It’s only for an hour, you’ll be fine.”

Levi: “Why can’t I just go to Grandma’s house while you go!”

Me: “I don’t know what Grandma is doing right now and it’s only for an hour. You’ll be fine.”

Levi: “I’m tired! It’s boring!”

On and on, until even though he’s the one complaining and being a turd, I start to feel bad, like I’m being selfish making him go. I start saying things in my head like, “It is his summer break, maybe I should just let him lay around and watch TV for a few hours instead of dragging him out of the house. Maybe he could just go to my mom’s house for an hour while I workout.” I start convincing myself he’s right, and that I’m the one being selfish.

Let Me Explain

I finally had to decide to stop arguing with him about it and explain why I do what I do. I had to remind us both why it’s so important that I spend a little bit of time taking care of me too. The last time this came up, I explained to him, that going to the gym is a very big priority of mine. Exercising keeps me healthy, so that I’m better able to take care of him.img_0822 I had to explain, that adults don’t usually get to go outside and play and run around, so going to places like the gym help us move our bodies and keep us healthy. And I had to point out, that the whole rest of my day revolves around what he and Tyson need or want to do, but that going to the gym is one hour out of the day, when I get to do something by myself that’s good for me and fun.

Does he get it at eight years old? Absolutely not. He doesn’t understand why it’s so important to me. He just wants to watch kids open toys on YouTube or some crap, swim, and jump on the trampoline. He doesn’t get how hard I’ve worked to change my lifestyle, so that I can be the kind of mom that I want him to have. He can’t comprehend how much time I’ve invested to make this stick, and how I’m sometimes still afraid to loosen the reigns for fear that I’ll fall back into my old habits. He doesn’t get it now, but I hope one day he will appreciate how much I’ve worked to be the happy, healthy, active mom that I want him to have. I don’t want him to look back and remember that his mom was always too tired to take him to do fun things or participate in activities.

Squeezing In Me Time

As moms, so much of our lives center around other people. Even the most minute decisions revolve around our children and family. We schedule almost everything we do around nap times, meal times, cranky times, baseball practice, music lessons, you name it. We do it without question, because of course we love them so much, and they are our number one priority. I know someday it will happen, but right now I can’t imagine a time, when my life won’t revolve around my children’s day to day activities. But as I get further into my weight loss journey, img_2089I’m also realizing that squeezing little bits of time out of the day to do things by myself, that make me happy, are vital to my health and my mood. It’s important to me mentally, physically, and emotionally, to have that time to recharge so that I can be more present for them, for the rest of the day. It’s not only important to me that I find those moments, it’s also important to me that my boys know about them.

I want them to know that I value my personal time. I want them to know me as their mom, but also know that I’m a real person, with interests and hobbies. I don’t want to just tell them it’s important to take care of their bodies, I want to show them, by taking care of mine. I want to show them what a strong, happy woman is, so that they will hopefully one day, a super long time from now, they’ll be able to spot one for themselves!

Putting It Into Practice

So far this summer, I’m making a conscious effort to get out and do fun things with my boys, instead of just getting stuck in another routine. I tend to be a creature of habit if I’m not actively planning different activities. This summer, I’ve decided that we’re going to have a blast, and we can get back to routines in August. Right now we have memories to make!

So far, we’ve gone rock-climbing, trampoline jumping, hiking, swimming, we’ve gone to the zoo, and strawberry-picking, and mom has a whole list of other ideas to fill our time together. I want to help my boys experience life and do fun things that they’ll always remember, even if it’s just in pictures. I want to give them the green light to try new things, and to find places and hobbies they love, and it starts with giving myself permission to do the same.

My Top 5 Weight Loss Excuses

I’ve really been enjoying sharing my thoughts on weight loss here and on my Instagram. Most weeks, I’ve been pretty good about writing my blog post toward the beginning of the week, giving myself plenty of time to edit and proofread before posting on Saturday. This week, it’s been full-blown procrastination. Working mom mode has been in full effect! It’s been a jam-packed week, full of Easter festivities, baseball,img_0202 work, and trying to squeeze in the gym and meal prep. I feel like I’ve been procrastinating all week, trying to think of what I want to write about, and searching for time to actually sit down and write it. So here I am, on Friday afternoon, trying to form some coherent thoughts while Tyson is squealing, watching his Pops working on his tractor behind our house. So what do you write about after a week of procrastination? I guess let’s talk about excuses and procrastination!

If there’s a support group out there like, Procrastinator’s Anonymous, I might need to lead a meeting. I am horrible about procrastinating. Most of the time I feel like I’m so overwhelmed with such a long to do list, that I just really don’t want to even start. The same was true when it came to weight loss. When I stopped taking Phentermine years ago, and slowly started seeing the scale creep back up, I knew I should nip it in the bud. I knew I shouldn’t let those 10 pounds become 100, but I put it off and put it off, and then got pregnant! I ignored it for so long, and I had some fantastic excuses! I thought I would share some of my top excuses with you, and share how I put the metaphorical duct tape over my mouth and decided to quit using them. I’ll share with you the mindset shifts that helped things click for me, and hopefully they can be helpful for you too! Here are my top 5 go to excuses in no particular order:

#1: This is Just My Body Type

My weight has fluctuated so much over the years, that sometimes it seems like there’s this imaginary set point, and that my body is just meant to be overweight. I love watching shows about obesity and weight loss. My 600 Lb Life, documentaries on Netflix, I love them all. One day I was watching a documentary, and they were pointing out, that all throughout history, obesity was never a huge issue until the last few decades, with the rise of processed and fast food.

Our bodies are amazing machines. God designed them so perfectly, everything working together to maintain homeostasis and keep us alive. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I truly don’t believe God designed any of us to be naturally overweight. Most of the time, our diet, lifestyle, and habits, are the only things leading us to struggle with our weight. This is good news though! For me, it gave me hope that if God designed my body perfectly, just like he designed everyone else’s, then if I did my part, and changed the parts that I controlled, that my body would do what it had been designed to do. While there are some hormonal imbalances and medication that can make it more difficult for some, that wasn’t the case for me, and I don’t believe it is for most. For me, it was completely related to lifestyle, which leads me to #2.

#2: I Don’t Want to Change My Lifestyle

As uncomfortable as I was in my body, I was very comfortable with my lifestyle. I liked spending my days off lying around pregnant on the couch while Levi was in school, and I liked laying around on the couch even more after I had been up all night with a newborn. I didn’t love cooking all the time, but I loved going out to eat for just about every meal.img_0337 Most of my physical activity was on the days I worked, and all that hard work was completely negated by what I ate while I was there. As soon as I walked in the door, put my stuff in my locker, and got report from the off going shift, I immediately went right back down the elevator to the in-house Starbucks to order my breakfast, a Venti White Mocha Frappuccino with almond flavoring added. Large Coffee milkshake please! Breakfast of champions! For lunch, tired of eating hospital chicken strips everyday, I would usually order out from anywhere that would deliver. By the time I got off work at 7 p.m., I was hungry again, and on the prowl for a drive thru.

I can see now, how it’s no surprise at all how I packed on the weight, but at the time, I was just stressed and doing what was easiest. I never thought I would actually be able to figure out a system for meal prep and exercise that I actually enjoyed. Because…

#3: I Hate Exercising

I truly did. As I’ve said before, I tried for quite a while to enjoy running, but for me, there was nothing enjoyable about it. I’ve always heard about this mysterious “Runner’s High”, but never actually experienced it for myself. I always got bored and tired of hearing my heart pounding in my head long before any euphoria could take over and make it even remotely pleasurable. And after the running was over, being as overweight as I was, my body hurt. My knees, hips, and back ached. Not my idea of a good time. I mean have you seen those people on The Biggest Loser? They look absolutely miserable.

I used to love watching The Biggest Loser back in the day, but honestly I think that it can give people unrealistic expectations when it comes to weight loss. img_7875I’m a firm believer that 90% of my personal weight loss success has come from my nutrition, not because of what I’ve done in the gym. Lately, whenever I’ve posted transformation pictures, I get a lot of compliments on my shoulders. Want to know a secret? I hardly work my shoulders, and I feel like they’re probably the weakest part of my body. The only reason my shoulder muscles are visible, is because my nutrition is geared toward fat loss, and that’s just a part of my body where the fat has chosen to come off of more than other parts, revealing the muscle underneath.

I think diet and exercise are both parts of a healthy lifestyle. However, most shows tend to focus so much on the exercise portion, I think, because it looks so much more dramatic than just watching overweight people eat healthy for an hour. Nobody would watch that!img_0335 What they will watch are overweight people killing themselves in the gym for six hours a day and losing 20 pounds in a week. Just enough drama and tears to make it interesting, but unrealistic enough to make it seem impossible for an ordinary person with a family and a full-time job. As a person with a family and a full time job, I’m here to tell you, you don’t have to kill yourself in the gym to start seeing results. Your results will be from your nutrition. It’s true what they say, “You can’t outwork a poor diet.” So just focus on that, and then as your body starts to feel better, you can gradually add in exercise that you actually enjoy.

#4: It’s Too Much to Think About

This one could also be phrased, I shouldn’t have to think about this. There’s a lot of disgruntled feelings surrounding weight loss, for a lot of people. Not only did I not want to have to think about what I ate all of the time, I was mad that I had to. If “Becky” can eat whatever she wants and not have to worry about her weight, img_0338then it’s not fair that I have to. I just wanted to be able to eat whenever, where ever, and whatever I felt like, just like Becky seemed to do. I don’t actually know a Becky, but for this example, just think of her as that super annoying person who always complains about how they struggle to put on weight.

I heard a great example about how to change your mindset around this: It’s just like when you were in school. When I was in school, I never struggled to make good grades in English. Reading and writing always came easy for me, and I enjoyed those classes. Math was another story, I could make decent enough grades in math, but I really had to work at it. Becky was a math whiz, but couldn’t write a paper above a fourth grade reading level to save her life! We all have strengths and weaknesses.  My struggle in life might be my weight, and while I roll my eyes every time Becky remarks about how she lost 5 pounds without trying last month, maybe Becky can’t ever seem to pay a bill on time, or screams at her kids every day for no reason? The point is we all have things we struggle with and it gets you no where wishing you had a different set of problems. You deal with your weight and let Becky deal with her temper. Okay, we’re done with Becky!

#5: I Don’t Have Time

Ew. This one stings a little. This is a big one. I think we’ve probably all said at one time or another, that we just don’t have the time to focus on losing weight. When we think about losing weight, I think we’ve been taught that to be “fully committed”, we need to be eating organic gourmet masterpieces for every meal, and slugging it out in the gym six or seven days a week. If this is what you’re envisioning when you think you don’t have time, you’re probably right. Who has time for that? People on The Biggest Loser, that’s who!

I truly believe that when you want to lose weight, you will find the time, but there are also some practical things you can do to save yourself some time. For grocery shopping, I highly recommend Kroger Clicklist, or I have also heard great things about Wal-Mart’s online ordering. This is a huge time saver when you’re struggling to get to the grocery store. The next thing I would suggest is doing meal prep.img_0319 Meal prep is a huge time and money saver. If I can spend a little bit of time cooking at the beginning of the week, it saves me so much time and energy for the rest of the week. I don’t have to worry about if my meals fit my macros, because I already know I have food cooked that will fit perfectly for the whole week. I know that by investing those couple of hours on Sunday, I’ve set myself up to be successful for the whole week. My only job after that is to eat the food. If you don’t even have a couple of hours for meal prep, I have a lot of meals that don’t even require cooking. I literally portion them into bowls and go about my business. There are ways to make it work when you truly want to.

And lastly, if you don’t have time or money to go to the gym, you can still make it work. Like I said, I truly believe 90% of weight loss is in the kitchen, not in the gym. If you feel so pressed for time that you can’t go to the gym, don’t even worry about it right now. We all have time to eat, and you can make awesome progress with just your food.

I really hope that by me sharing my top excuses, and how I pushed past them, that it can inspire you to do the same. Weight loss is such a mind game, and we use these excuses to sabotage ourselves all the time. But there’s something about really identifying our excuses, that really helps you be able to swat them away when they pop up in your brain. Stay mentally tough friends and have a great week!

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