“Look forward, not down or up…” I would say to my 2 year old daughter as she walked along the wooden beam at Gym tots. ” ….and use your arms to help you. Feel your way with your feet.” She always had tremendous balance and spatial awareness from when she was tiny. She loved it at Gym tots.
This is something we all need in life, in all areas. Balance. All too often it is easier said than done! Well, this has been my experience.
It’s important to work hard enough but equally important to rest and to play too. Why drive yourself into a hole unnecessarily? Sooner or later you’ll pay for it. I learned this the hard way. Years ago my life was quite different to how it is now. I had children, a husband and a house to look after. After child number three, I decided to become a fitness instructor. That on top of everything else was a lot but it was what I wanted to do.
Teaching a number of Zumba Fitness classes every week was such a buzz for me. It gave me back my identity as Simmone the person rather than Simmone the mum or wife. I’d lost who I was somewhere along the way.
This was great! It came at a time that family circumstances were such that, I was incredibly stressed and anxious and wasn’t eating enough to match my level of activity. I became incredibly thin to the point that my clothes would hang off me. At the time, I was oblivious to how I looked and how unwell I was feeling. I look back at photos now and think, ‘Oh!’ I found it hard to fight off colds which often developed into sinusitis. (Not great if you are trying to jump around in class!), chronic muscle cramps at night time due to dehydration and lack of energy stores. Ouch! I ended up with a chest infection at one point. People, this wasn’t balanced! I can’t remember anyone telling me to slow down. (I’m sure there were those who did.) To be honest with you I probably wouldn’t have listened unless they were a doctor anyway. Eventually I got better and realised that clearly I wasn’t eating enough good wholesome nutrition or drinking enough water for my body to cope with the demands I was putting on it plus my appetite loss wasn’t helping. Everyone else was fed and watered but not me, because everyone else comes first, right?
I was wrong. I signed up to do a sports nutrition course because I needed to address the balance and start looking after myself. I wasn’t going to be able to continue at this level if I wanted to be fit and well. This made a huge difference and was able to tell my class participants what had helped me. Especially when I was teaching classes back to back. It could help some of them too! I reduced the amount of meat I was (then) eating and increased my fruit, veg and water intake. Learned how I needed to eat. Nutrition isn’t one size fits all. I felt so much better! That area, for now was covered.
So why did I still feel incomplete? I loved my family and my job. In between class planning, choreography practice and family life, I wasn’t making time for myself. “I just don’t have time” I would tell myself, but you see there is no joy in being a martyr. Your health and happiness go hand in hand.
Since then I understand more about what self-care is and why it is so important for every aspect of your life. Especially if you have others to look after too. How can you look after them properly if you aren’t taking care of yourself first? It was a hard truth I had to swallow but true nonetheless. It begins with me!
My life is better for it now. Self care is something I’ve learned and continue to learn over the years. I’ve come to realise that it stems out of what you believe about yourself which is linked to your self esteem and confidence.
One book that was a game changer for me is ‘I ❤ Me’ By Dr. David R Hamilton PhD. It’s about the science of self love. It’s so informative and easy to read and I recommend it to all especially if you struggle with some of these issues.
In summation, aim to keep your work rest and play time in balance. It will be different for everyone and might take some time to work out. Avoid burning out at all costs! It’s not great! Remember that you are already enough, You are worth YOUR time and effort and self care isn’t selfish! Guilt has no place here. Sometimes it’s ok and appropriate to say ‘no’
Balance is key!
Take care of YOU first.