I was on the cheerleading team from the time I was in the 5th grade until I graduated high school. What began as a fun way to spend time with my middle school friends morphed into a pretty intense, gymnastics-focused endeavor. I spent every afternoon from 4:00 to 5:30 in the gymnasium, running laps and doing pushups with my squad. We needed those muscles, as our stunt routines were complex and challenging and besides, we couldn’t be winded when we competed on varying stages throughout the year.
That routine kept my health in check. I was moving and sweating five days out of the week, and I never really worried about what I was eating or doing when I wasn’t at practice. Then, a few years later I found myself at college, stuck in a dorm that was clear across campus from a majority of my classes. As a result, I walked everywhere I went and kept up my active lifestyle. I so enjoyed the challenge of it all that I purposefully sought subsequent dorm rooms far away from everywhere I needed to go. If I wasn’t visiting the university gym like I’d planned, I could at least walk for an hour a day.
Those schedules carried me well into my early 20s. Then, I got married, found a sedentary office job and became a mama five years later. Now, I’m lucky if I can squeeze in a mid-day dance party to get my heart pumping. My days are chocked-full of preschool drop-off and pickup, making lunches, cleaning up said lunches, hosting and going to playdates, and more.
Along the way, I’ve lost myself and lost my commitment to fitness. It’s a little cliché to say, but as the first of the year rolls around, I’m finding a new desire to get back into the groove just a little.
While I won’t be leading aerobics classes at our local YMCA any time soon, there are a few ways I’m dipping my toes back into the workout pool, kids in both arms and all!
First, I’m claiming a “me” time. While I’d love for this to be an hour or more per day, that’s likely not feasible. Yet, my husband has agreed to take over during that lag time after dinner and before baths so I can slip out for a little while.
Some days, I might go to our local coffee shop and get a little blogging done. More often, however, I plan to go to the gym and get in a short run or a light weight training session. I need this little break for my mental clarity as much as my physical stamina, and I look forward to starting this routine.
Next, I’m monitoring my health better. I’m the type of mom who will rush to the pediatrician if my daughter has a paper cut, but I haven’t scheduled a routine physical for myself in about five years. I’ve gotten so used to doing things for everyone else that I’ve neglected to take care of my own wellbeing.
One of the areas I lack in? Realizing what my body needs and responding accordingly. To counter this, I invested in a few fun workout accessories to track my daily steps and stay on top of other health-focused criteria. I also plan to keep a health journal of anything that’s bugging or hurting me, and make it a point to schedule that long-awaited physical!
Finally, I’m learning how to cook. I’ll probably never be a Rachel Ray in the kitchen (much like I’ll never be a Jo-Jo Gaines in the living room), but I can learn how to prepare simple, nutritious dishes that my entire family can enjoy. No more grabbing fast food just because it’s cheap or convenient. I’ll save those meals for special occasions when we’re really on-the-go. Instead, I’ll try to make lean proteins and veggies I can feel good about serving them every day.
I want to become more confident with an oven and a stovetop, and find a handful of solid recipes that I can rely on and reuse often with minor tweaks and variations here and there. As I grow in that department, I’ll be more inspired to expand my own palate as well. I have a foodie friend who is always posting Instagram pictures of her elaborate and beautiful meals, most made with ingredients I’ve never heard of! I’m excited to explore different cuisines and share new tastes and traditions with my family.
This first day of the year is almost over, and I’m still not sure what my fitness routine will look like moving forward. I’m guessing I’ll encounter a ton more walks, a few more conversations with my doctor, and more than a few burnt suppers on my way toward success, but I’m taking that first step forward, and isn’t that what personal progress is all about?