I was snuggling with my five-year-old daughter feeling loved and content when she proceeded to look down, pat my belly innocently saying, “Mama, your belly feels like jello.” Oh, yes, she did! I looked down at my sweet little girl knowing she didn’t mean to hurt my feelings. But wow, did her comment hit me smack in the face. I know that I have a “belly”; I’ve had one since becoming a Mother and unfortunately haven’t had the easiest time losing it. My daughter wasn’t trying to be mean or say hurtful words. Honestly, I am thankful she said it and here’s why.
Too often it feels like I get caught up in the busyness of life and Motherhood. I am running my girls from activity to activity, teaching Sunday school, writing, volunteering at schools and maintaining our household. It is no different than every other mom I know! What I am NOT doing is taking care of Me. Why do we moms do this? Why do we insist everyone else is healthy and happy, but we let ourselves slip away?
Well, it doesn’t have to be that way. Yes, I am going to still be a busy mom, but I’ve decided I will be a mom who makes exercise and feeling healthy a priority for myself as well as my family. I’ve always enjoyed exercising, but for many different reasons I have let it sit on the back burner. I used to like the feeling I would get from the endorphins that are released after a good workout. I liked the 30-60 minutes of stress free, worry less, freedom I felt during a walk or jog. In the beginning of motherhood, I ran with a jogging stroller. As the number of our children increased, the heavier the jogging stroller became. But, I carried on enjoying the fresh air and the feeling of taking care of myself. As our girls got older and our schedules busier, my exercise became less to non existent.
I’ve learned over the past few years through many hard lessons that life is short. None of us are guaranteed tomorrow, so we need to make today count. I may not be ready to train for a race, but I can get out, hit the pavement and make my heart pump.
There’s no more excuses. Today, I will break the cycle in my family of women not taking care of themselves. It’s not going to be an easy road, but it’s a road worth taking. Want to join me? Don’t wait for new year resolutions, do it now. Make a promise to yourself that you will do it for YOU.
Regular exercise has been linked to reduced amounts of stress, less anxiety and depression, improved sleep and higher self esteem. According to WebMD, exercise also strengthens your heart, increases energy levels, lowers blood pressure, makes you feel and look fit and healthy. Who doesn’t want those benefits for themselves and their families?
So, where do we start? Well, thankfully we are blessed to live in an area where the weather is nice most of the year. There are so many places to exercise around Charleston. If you are like me, and enjoy the outdoors there are plenty of opportunities to explore. You can start by walking around your neighborhood or a local park. The County parks all have great walking trails and plenty of green space. In Charleston County we have Palmetto Islands County Park, North Charleston Wannamaker Park, Laurel Hill County Park, Kiawah Beachwalker Park, James Island County Park, Isle of Palms Park, Folly Beach Park and Caw Caw Interpretive Center. You can easily access the parks’ websites atwww.ccprc.com
Ask a friend to join you; look for a walking or running club. Our local beaches are accessible year round. Walking on the beach is one of my favorite forms of exercise. Not only does it make my body feel good, it is medicine for my soul as well. Don’t forget the Ravenel Bridge. If you park on the Mount Pleasant side and walk across the bridge and back, it is close to 5 miles.
If you like to go to the gym, there are numerous local gyms that offer memberships. The most important part of all of this is to find something that you enjoy. Need some ideas of what to do, how about trying biking, jogging, walking, tennis, swimming, low impact aerobics, or yoga/Pilates.
I know it can feel overwhelming and maybe even painful to start, but your body will thank you. Taking care of you is not selfish. You deserve to be a healthy mom. I will be sweating right beside you. You can do it! Go for it, and remember: movement leads to improvement!