January 19, 2015

Hi there- How is this January’s journey to “Begin” to step into a new level of health and wellness? I know I have had some bumps in the road. One of the hardest things to do in life is to accept that we don’t have it all together, all figured out, or are all ready for the change! And, you know what? That is ok, too! Let me set this stage by telling you a little more about my break down, mommy awakening.

With my running shoes on our 3-month-old daughter starts screaming in her dad’s arms, and I become a ball of frazzled nerves. My heart sinks and I take off my shoes and soothe a fussy baby. I tell myself, “I will go for a run another time.” But the days turn into weeks and then into months and no sign of consistent running. The self-criticism began to flood my mind.

Back up to before I was expecting. As a sports dietitian and marathoner, life revolved around nutrition and fitness. Naively, I was certain that life would get back into a normal routine once the baby was here and I was cleared at my six week checkup. A reality check awaited me.

Fast forward, add motherhood, sleepless nights, and nursing a newborn into the mix and that dedicated-lifestyle became a faint nagging memory. No time, no sleep, no willpower, and no use trying. By her first birthday I had convinced myself that I was a failure as a dietitian and a runner. If I couldn’t live up to my over-the-top expectations then why bother.

Do you ever feel defeated by your own ridiculous expectations? I certainly do, sometimes daily.

Finally, I admitted that I am a busy, imperfect, young mother, and very, very hard on myself. My critical thinking was totally ineffective. It sure didn’t motivate me to eat right, or run; if anything, it actually made me less likely to try because I felt so discouraged. I bullied myself right into an unhealthy rut. 

The truth is I couldn’t move out of the rut until I accepted my current reality and limitations. But the beauty is that acceptance is not giving up! Acceptance is the shift in perception to accept the things that you cannot change; a limited schedule, new responsibilities, and wider hips.

The fresh perspective gave me courage to change the things I could. No time to train for a marathon but I could focus on improving my 5K time. No longer pregnant, I started skipping the dessert that had become a maternity habit. And although gym classes didn’t fit my new schedule, I learned to explore fitness routines within the home.

Now that my daughter is 2.5 and no longer crying every time I walk out the door, there are other limitations like potty training, work travel, and that husband that wants to spend time with me (giggles). So, I still have resolved how to fit my love of distant running back into my everyday life, but I haven’t given up hope, or exercise. See, I’ve accepted that this season of my life requires different expectations, and that is perfectly fine! I highly encourage you to re-examine the areas you deem “failures” and see if maybe the only thing that is failing is your expectation of yourself. Cut yourself some slack!

Note: This isn’t an excuse to make excuses for not doing something to improve our health. You may not be able to hit the gym, run marathons, or touch your toes, but everyone can incorporate the food strategies I’ve laid out – no get-out-of-jail-free –card!

Bottom line, maybe you aren’t a new parent, but everyone’s life goes through different stages and phases that require us to roll with the punches. When we spend all our mental and emotional energy resisting the reality of our current circumstances we are left with no mojo to move forward. I encourage you to take a hard look at the excuses you use to avoid a healthier lifestyle. May you accept the things you cannot change, be courageous enough to change the things you can, and have the wisdom to know the difference. 

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