Category: health

Self Care for Moms

I woke up this morning thinking about self-care, and how different that looks now than at any point in my adult life.

For one thing, I now know and use the phrase self-care and I don’t even feel too awkward or embarrassed about it. Well. I still feel a little awkward, to be honest. Taking care of my self has not always been easy for me.

Briefly: when I was in college, many of these things came very naturally. Part of that can be attributed to the environment I was in (I was surrounded by friends, literally living with my best friend, and living in the middle of a place where I felt valued and respected. My academic career, my campus jobs and volunteer opportunities, and my sorority all packed those years chock-full of caring for myself – but back then, I didn’t even realize that’s what was happening.

Which meant that as adulting hit break-neck speed (we got married, Chris started chemo, I started my first job, we moved, he started medical school, we had miscarriages and then eventually a baby and another and another), I didn’t realize some of the things I needed to do to nurture my self.

Eventually, I started to realize I needed care because I was starting to crack. And over the years, I have figured out a lot of ways to take care of myself – and over the years, I’ve been all over the board in terms of how much time, money, and energy I’ve had to devote to self-care.

I thought that it might be helpful to share some of what has worked for me, in case you:

  • are pretty gosh-darn broke
  • are a  single mom or a “work widow”
  • are knee-deep in the baby stage with a little one who can’t be left for long
  • are up to your eyeballs with multiple kids at multiple ages
  • finally have a little bit of fun-money to spend
  • just got out of the baby stage and have a few minutes to yourself now and then

…because I’ve been at ALL those places. Each of those circumstances have their own challenges, but self-care can still happen.

**********

What does self-care mean, exactly?

Self-care is anything you do that feeds your spirit. It recharges your batteries and connects you to who you really are. It may involve caring for your physical body, your mental health, your emotional state, or your spirituality.

I think I get it. But I need examples! 

Okay, good. That’s what this post was supposed to be about, anyway! Here we go. A quick guide to the notations:
$ (when you’re super broke)
$$ (when you have a little cash)
$$$ (when money’s no object)
SW – single mom or work-widow mom
NB – newborn nearby
MK – multiple kids
FT – finally have a little free time

 

Coffee/Tea
$ – A quick cuppa can be crazy-cheap if you do it at home. It’s more about the time and the ritual of slowing down and enjoying it.
$$ – With a little investment in a French press and a beautiful mug that makes you smile, you can upgrade those just for you moments with some sparkle.
$$$ –  Get yourself your favorite treat from your favorite place. Bonus points if you manage to go in the coffeeshop and sit down for a few minutes.

Mani/Pedi
$, NB, MK – Grab a new color while you’re at the grocery store, and DIY. With a baby, either schedule your nails for the MOMENT your little one falls asleep, or as soon as they hit that happy spot after a meal and you know you’ll have ten calm minutes. Resist the urge to do something you “have to” do. You know what you have to do? You have to take care of yourself! With multiple kids, try running a bubble bath (or have an indoor pool party – throw them in the tub in their swimsuits, if you’ve got kids spread across genders and ages that don’t work for community baths anymore) and paint your tips while they splash a little.
$$ – A monthly trip to a salon? If you’re the extroverted type, take along a friend or sister and double-up the self-care by getting a dose of chatter. If you’re an introvert, take along a book to your pedi so the manicurist won’t feel the need to talk and rob you of the energy you’re trying to find!

Exercise
$, NB – Try walking in your neighborhood. Bonus points if you get a little vitamin D while you’re at it. This is another option to do solo if you’re introverted and need alone time, or with a pal if you’re extroverted and need to connect.
$$ – Pick a gym or a boutique fitness spot and get a one-month membership. Sometimes new members get great introductory rates, and you might learn a few moves you’ll be able to continue to do at home. If you’re a single mom, look for a place with in-house childcare. If you’re a married mom but your spouse has a challenging schedule, look for a place with accomodating hours (5:30 a.m. boot camp or 7:00 pm Zumba – it’s out there!)
$$$ – Hire a personal trainer, and target exactly the fitness issues you want to focus on and the types of exercises that really work best for you. Because your body is a temple.
Blanche Devereaux treats her body like a temple

(And note: if the idea of exercise is not a JOY to you, but instead is something you HATE, don’t put it on your list. Your own personal list is going to be filled with things that make you happy and cared-for. Don’t write down ‘exercise’ because you have to. Promise? Okay, moving on.)

Professional Care Appointments

$ – Your insurance may cover a certain number of visits with a chiropractor or counselor. That can make those visits free or very nearly so.

$$ – Services like babysitting, hair appointments, massage therapy, or chiropractic out-of-pocket.

 

Hobbies
It’s hard to break these down by the codes, because people’s interests vary so widely, but I’ll say this: what do you like to do, just for fun? Just because it makes you happy? Just because it lets you stretch your creative muscles or feel playful and young again? Find a way to do that again. For example:
-reading (free via library, cheap via e-reader, spendy via hardbacks to fill your shelves)
-sewing or knitting (we all know you can make these as expensive as you want, but if you need to save pennies you don’t have to quit altogther – bargain shop! Thrift stores and garage sales can be your secret weapon.)
-scrapbooking (cheap if you make it all digital, various degrees of spendy if you print an album or do classic albums with pics and ‘need’ a million stickers)
-singing, dancing (cheap via community choirs, churches, and boogie-ing in your PJs, more if you take classes or join performance troupes)

 

Naps
Always free, but I know: challenging if you are a S/W and have NB or MK.
With a baby and being solo, I’ve always loved the idea to make one room in your house totally baby-safe. Close the door, lay down on the floor with a pillow and blanket, and let baby crawl around and explore happily while you doze. It won’t be deep, solid sleep – but it can be surprisingly restorative.
If you have a partner or a pal, asking for help is okay. Someone else can play with your kids (bonus points if they take them out of the house!) while you get an hour’s rest.

 

Bubble Baths
This is the one thing I feel the most stupid about forgetting, back when I was neglecting self-care. When we had no pennies for splurging and I had babies to care for 24/7, I still could have managed to fit in one or two bubble baths a week. If it’s been a long time since you’ve indulged, I beg you: as soon as you finish reading this post (because I don’t want you to drop your phone into the tub!) go have a long, bubbly soak. Chandler knows what I’m talking about:
Chandler Bing relaxing in bubble bath

 

Laughter
What makes you laugh, mama? Good, deep, hard, belly laughs that bring tears to your eyes? Whatever it is, go after that.

I’ve got a “Humor” board on Pinterest that cracks me the heck up. Sometimes I just lock myself in the bathroom for ten minutes and stare at those videos and memes. It lifts my spirit and reminds me that I have a sense of humor – and sometimes that’s all it takes to get through a day, am I right?

Maybe you’re an in-person laugher. You might need a regularly scheduled girls’ night out with your best pal who always has you in stitches.

Or if you like quirky jokes or pratfalls or adolescent potty humor, there’s a Netflix category for that, I promise! Stream a movie or a comedy special. Yuk it up!

 

**********

Okay, hopefully a few things from my list have helped you start to imagine what a life filled with self-care might look like. I don’t do all of those every single day. But, I’m at a stage right now where I have a little pocket money; I have multiple kids but due to school and parent’s morning out I have six child-free hours per week; I’m still a work widow but not as drastically as a few years ago. So I try to do at least three things for myself every week – time with a hobby, time with a friend, exercise, a care appointment, reading a book while ignoring the laundry…. Sometimes I spend money (now that I can) but sometimes the best, most restorative things I do are still the freebies.

 

So how do I get started?

Step One: Reflect

Not all of my suggestions will sound comforting or energizing to you. Some of these would be torture and you’d run away screaming for the hills. That’s okay. A few of these will work for you, and maybe they’ll help you think of other things that recharge your batteries. Craft your own personalized list.

Step Two: Reserve

Your list of things that give you warm fuzzies won’t be worth the crayon it’s scribbled in, if you never make the time to do something you wrote down. Reserve a few minutes for yourself.

Now, it’s a Self-Care Law of the Universe that saying YES to yourself will require saying NO to something else. (Remember that law of the universe from science class about how one bit of matter can’t occupy the same space as another bit of matter? Or something like that. I wasn’t great at sciencing. Anyway, it’s just like that.) The 24 hours in your day can only accomodate so many to-dos. Reserving time means that you have to prioritize. Feed your kids and make sure your house isn’t a health hazard, but let the rest go for fifteen minutes or an hour. It’s okay.

Because! There is a fascinating corollary to the Self-Care Law of the Universe! Whenever you say YES to something from your list, something that only exists because it cares for your self, you will reap energy you were missing before, and that usually means that you can accomplish so much MORE than you could when you were telling yourself no and operating in a depleted state.

Step Three: Review

After a few weeks, check in with yourself. Get somewhere quiet and observe:  do you feel calmer in your own skin? Have you found yourself smiling for no reason? Are you happier and sweeter with your family members? If the answer is yes, then it’s working. Keep doing what you’re doing. If the answer is no, then go back to step one. Maybe the things you picked were self-care tasks that “sound good” but don’t feed your spirit. Maybe you wrote a self-care task on your to-do list every day for a week but never actually got around to it. Take stock and see what you need to change.
I’d love to hear from you. Are you in a phase of life where you’re struggling with self-care? Did I leave your favorite one off my list? Please drop me a note in the comments!

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Sweet Abi started taking a ballet/tap combination class this school year. She so adorably loves it. Every Friday morning, she gets all decked out (and even lets me fix her hair! #girlmomperks ) and after class, regales me with chatter about what her teacher did and what her friends said and all the movement games they played.

I love it for her.IMG_6661

When I was about 11, I took ballet when we lived in Texas. I think I took classes for about a year, and I remember loving the music, the movements. It was probably the first time I felt aware of my body and proud of its strength. But when my dance teacher told us that she wanted me to move up to the en pointe class, I got scared. She said I was younger than most of her pointe students, but she thought I would do well.

Even as a kid, I had a bad case of paralyzing perfectionism. The idea of going into a new class where I would be the youngest, the least experienced, and therefore probably the worst? No way, nuh-uh, not happening.

So I quit ballet.

That was the first of many hobbies and interests and activities I would begin, excel in, and abruptly quit.

Piano. Baton. Horseback riding. Sewing. Spanish.

I’m so thankful that my parents continued to let me try new things.

But I hate how my anxieties kept me from enjoying them longer. I wish I had been able to push myself past the part where the new skill got challenging. When I could no longer play my piano pieces through after a single practice session, I decided that meant I didn’t really have “an ear for music,” and I stopped taking lessons. After my first parade, I realized that other {older, experienced} baton twirlers could do a zillion more tricks than I could, and figured since I was still struggling with Move X, I’d probably never ever master my way up to Move Y. So I quit that, too.

The thing I’ve realized as an adult is that a lot of that tendency was due to my particular brain. Lots of gifted kids exhibit this little quirk: so many things come so easily to us upon first blush, that we get accustomed to everything coming naturally. We also get stuck in a feedback loop, where adults praise us for mastering things that seem very simple and effortless: therefore we think that effortless=praiseworthy. We see kids around us struggling with mastery and {yes, it’s true, we kinda can’t help it, many of us start off pretty egotistical and only learn empathy later} we assume that struggle=stupidity. Then, the first time we hit a task that’s going to require some WORK on our part, we spiral into cataclysmic thinking.

This is hard. -> Stuff is supposed to be easy for me.  -> If it’s hard, that means I’m stupid {about this}. -> Feeling stupid is unfamiliar and uncomfortable. -> I’m going to quit {this} and do something where I’m comfortably smart, instead.

In my life right now, I’m figuring out how to push through that old pattern and not get caught on that spiral. Part of my new ability to do that comes from my meds, and I’m okay with that. The other part comes from some good therapy and learning some new types of self-talk. I had to figure out how to recognize the pattern, the voice in my head that whispers that LIFE AS WE KNOW IT WILL END IF MICHELLE FAILS AT SOMETHING PUBLICLY aaaaah eeeeeeek oh noes and I had to figure out how to approach opportunities rationally. There are certain key phrases my brain uses when it’s in that mode. They are my red flags that what I’m thinking and feeling isn’t really grounded in truth.

Having a friend or loved one to springboard ideas has also really helped me. A local bestie who knows me well, my husband – both people who can “gut check” me and will kindly but truthfully tell me when I’m hung up on old notions and operating out of fear.

https://smilescanbecatching.wordpress.com/2014/05/27/what-if-i-fall-oh-but-my-darling-what-if-you-fly/

One of the things I want desperately for my kids, then, is to grow up without the whisper of paranoid perfection in their heads. I pray that I’ll see the warning signs if they feel pressure to be perfect. I hope that I’ll know when to nudge them to keep going, to persevere, to take another step, to leap, to fly. And on the other hand, that I’ll know when they really do need to heed their inner voice and lay something down, take a step back, stop.

I don’t want Abi to stick with ballet because I have visions of her onstage beside Misty Copeland someday. I want her to stick with ballet for as long as it makes her happy, and if at some point it doesn’t, I hope I’ll be able to help her find another outlet that does bring her joy.

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keepcalm

When I was a kid, I wasn’t particularly fearful. I don’t remember being afraid of the dark, or of monsters under my bed. I was too rational and logical, even at three or four years old, to get caught up in those fears.

I’m not sure exactly when that started to change. It wasn’t that I ever really got swept up in normal kid fears; it was more like I had a really heightened sense of awareness of everything that could go wrong in the world. The first pivotal moment came when my dad went to the Persian Gulf for Operation Desert Storm. My mother and brother and I remained in our house on Fort Hood, in central Texas, for a while. Then after a few months, we took a Greyhound bus all the way to Thomasville, Georgia. If you’re not familiar with the Southeastern United States, let me illustrate (well, let Google Maps illustrate):
TxToGaMap

That is a long stinkin’ bus ride. Please note that the 14 hours drive time helpfully listed on this map? Does not account for bus stops. Anyway, what was I saying? Ah, yes, pivotal moments in Fear.

There was this man on one of the busses. I was turned around in my seat, kneeling and looking around the bus. It was such a new experience, you know? Everything seemed infinitely possible. Who were all these people? Where were they all going? And then this guy made eye contact with me. My memory of him is hazy; over time I’ve turned him into that guy from Con-Air. At the time, of course, I had never seen Con-Air. But that guy scared me, like down to my bones scared me. My stomach clenched and I just knew I couldn’t explain it to my mom, who was seated across the aisle. She was sharing a seat with Jason, who was feeling horribly bus-sick most of the ride.

Danny Trejo Con AirIt was all fine, you know, as most bogeyman stories are. The guy didn’t grab me or try to kidnap me. We stopped eventually and found Dramamine for Jason. I remember the bus stopping at a Popeye’s chicken. I remember watching the trees change. That’s the thing about a trip from Texas to Georgia – the trees change and when you finally start seeing the pecans, you know you’re almost home.

We got to the bus station, and my Grandmama was there to pick us up, and we went to her house and I felt warm and safe. Even though I know now it’s not true, at the time it felt like the only place I would ever be completely safe again was at her house.

Eventually, the war ended and my dad came home (safe and sound and in one piece, thank God). We went back to our house on Ft. Hood. Everything went back to normal.

Except me.

So now I have to tell you what I know now, that I didn’t know then, to make the rest of this bogeyman story make any sense.

I have an anxiety disorder. My brain is long on ephinephrine and short on serotonin and dopamine. (It’s not actually that simple, and researchers don’t even agree that all anxiety disorders are due to chemical imbalances anyway. But that’s probably an argument for a scholarly blog. I’m just tellin’ my story.) And at age 34, I finally decided to address it with a medical doctor and treat it with medication. But back then, I thought I was just a really crazy kid.

When we got home from that bus trip, I was jumpier. It was like I suddenly had a Spidey-sense, and it tingled all.the.damn.time. Lots of situations started screaming “danger! danger! danger!”

There was a day – I don’t know what year, but it was while we still lived in Texas, so somewhere during 6th or 7th grade – when my parents wanted to take me and my brother to play Putt-Putt Golf. They were going to drop us off with a couple of pre-paid rounds of mini-golf and a pocket full of tokens for the arcade – then go enjoy themselves at the mall a half-mile down the road – then return to Putt-Putt where we’d all share a nice pizza for lunch. Swell plan. Super sweet. (As a parent, I look back on this day and feel terrrrrrible, because I am pretty sure I can guess how much my mother was looking forward to alone time and adult conversation with my father.)

We pulled in to the parking lot at Putt-Putt, and my brother hopped happily out of the van. I got to the doorway and just… froze. My knees locked, my hands started to shake. I felt feverish and my head was pounding. I was seized by a immediate and inescapable certainty that if I got out of that van and my parents drove off to the mall, I would never see them again. Something horrible would happen to us, or to them, while we were apart.

What I know now, that I didn’t know then, was that I was having my first panic attack.

What I know now, that I didn’t know then, is that there are a few good ways to help a person through a panic attack – but yelling at them to stop being dramatic and just get out of the darn van – isn’t one of them. (No blame to my folks here, okay? I’m sure that on the outside it looked like a stubborn preteen being dramatic and ruining the nice family day that had been so lovingly planned. They had no idea what was going on in my head because I had no idea how to explain it to them.)

Eventually, I think we just went home. I don’t really remember. My memory of the panic and standing in the doorway of the van is crystal clear, and then as the attack passed everything that followed is a blur. (I know now that that’s pretty common for me. I think it’s because all my senses are so heightened during the adrenaline rush of a panic attack; afterwards I am exhausted as if I had run a foot race. I usually zone out or even sleep pretty hard afterward.)

For the next few years, I suffered from mild agoraphobia. I had a very hard time being in crowds, no matter who was with me. I had crippling fears and anxieties about doing anything in public alone. And I knew that it wasn’t normal.

So I remember trying really hard to couch my fears in words that sounded normal. I decided it would be better to sound stubborn (“Because I just don’t want to go, all right?!”) than to sound crazy (“Because if I go, I’ll be kidnapped and tortured or possibly have a heart attack, I can just feel it coming”).

And I started researching what was wrong with me. I actually did a research paper in 8th grade on phobias; I found my notes recently and they made me cry. I knew it, even back then, even before anyone around me seemed to.

Over my high school and college years, I learned a lot of coping techniques that worked really well for me. I still had some quirks and idiosyncrasies (for example: even though I learned to be comfortable shopping alone, I never ate in public alone nor attended a movie alone; and making phone calls to strangers made me feel sick to my stomach) but I was able to function at my schools and in my groups of friends. I went to amusement parks and baseball games, and learned how to talk myself down when the crowd levels made me itchy.

Let’s skip ahead a bit.

Last year, my anxiety level started to get worse. During normal, every day activities, I would feel like there was a movie trailer playing in my mind.

IN A WORLD….

WHERE EVERYTHING SEEMED NORMAL…

ONE WOMAN IS ABOUT TO DRIVE OFF THE ROAD AND DIE A HORRIBLE DEATH!

IN A WORLD….

WHERE DINNER NEEDS TO BE SERVED SOON…

THAT POT IS GOING TO BOIL OVER, SCARRING YOU FOR LIFE!

It was a pain in the you-know-what. Now, it’s not like I was hallucinating. I knew that the horrible, scary, worst-case-scenarios weren’t actually happening. I wasn’t out of my mind – I was too much in my mind. Does that make any sense? And so, I decided to get some help.

I’ve been in therapy a few times over the years for this and that, and one of my therapists in particular had sort of stumbled upon some of my anxiety triggers (while I was seeing her about something else completely) and was very helpful.

But this time, I decided that therapy wasn’t the way to go. I’ve talked about (and researched, and read about) my anxieties for many years, and you know what? It’s not something I can just pray my way through, or logic myself out of. I saw my primary care provider, and I started a prescription anti-anxiety medication.

After about three days of the medicine, I was standing at the kitchen counter jotting down a to-do list. And suddenly, I realized, it was mighty quiet.

You know how, when the power goes out at night, there’s that dramatic zap as all the lights go off? But, if the power goes out in the daytime, you don’t notice immediately. After a few minutes, it slowly dawns on you… the air conditioner isn’t humming. The sound of the fridge that usually fades into the background is roaring in it’s absence. You think, “gosh, it’s quiet around here,” and then you notice the clock on the oven is dark, and it hits you: oh, the power went out.

That’s what it felt like… in my head.

I’ve been on my anxiety medication for about four months, and it’s been a great experience. I haven’t had any side effects, and my personality hasn’t changed. I’m not dulled or zombie-fied. I’m ME. And a lot of those quirks and things I thought were just parts of my personality? Turns out they were parts of my disorder. They were barnacles, and my medicine keeps them scraped off my hull.

Being able to tackle writing my book — is due in part to shedding my anxiety.

Having much more control over my temper — is due in large part to managing my anxiety.

Being able to come back here after a bad experience — also due to freedom from anxiety.

I’m not sharing this because I think every person on the planet should take drugs. I’m not sharing it so people will feel sorry for me. (Don’t, seriously; I’m good, I promise!) I’m sharing it because it’s been a heck of a ride, from 1990 till now. I’m sharing it because maybe you have a preteen kid who’s suddenly freaking out – so here’s just another possibility instead of assuming they are just being stubborn. I’m sharing it because maybe you have a friend with weird quirks and a list of things they just can’t bring themselves to do. Or maybe you, yourself, have some bogeymen under your bed.

It’s okay. You’re not alone. There are a lot of ways to fight your battles.

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It’s been 13 years since Chris’ diagnosis with testicular cancer. I told the whole story a few years ago, so I won’t repeat myself.

But do you know what’s always worth repeating?

ThanksBe
I am still thankful for restoration and health at the hands of the Great Physician. Thankful for the man Chris has become through the past thirteen years. Thankful for the three beautiful children with whom we have been blessed, and for the life we have built. Thankful for the hundreds of lives he’s touched through his work. Thankful beyond measure to the Lord Jesus Christ.

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I’m considering my first round of P90X3 finished. I didn’t officially “graduate” — I let life stuff get in the way and I really lost steam during my third block. When the calendar flipped to a new month, I decided to make a fresh start. Even though it took me well over 100 days, I’m calling these my “90 day” results and I’m starting again with a brand new round of the program!

Day 1 Stats:
Weight: 121.4 lbs
Chest 34″
Natural Waist 29″
Navel 34″
Hips 37 1/4″
R Thigh 21″
L Thigh 21 3/8″
R Arm 10 7/8″
L Arm 10 3/4″

Day 90 Stats:
Weight: 119.8 lbs
Chest 33″
Natural Waist 26 3/4″
Navel 32″
Hips 34 1/4″
R Thigh 20″
L Thigh 20 1/2″
R Arm 11″
L Arm 10 7/8″

So, overall I lost 1.6 pounds and 10.25 inches. I love the way I can tell my face has slimmed down. I’m thrilled with my legs and obliques, especially. 🙂

Fit Test Results
Day 1
Pullups: 0
Vertical Leap: 6″
Push-ups: 5 (standard)
Toe Touch: +6 3/8″
Wall Squat: 2m, 1sec
Bicep Curls: 20 @ 8lbs.
In & Outs: 16

Day 90
Pullups: 1 (it was ugly, struggling, and wobbly, but I did it!)
Vertical Leap: 9″
Push-ups: 11 (standard)
Toe Touch: 8″
Wall Squat: 2m, 21sec
Bicep Curls: 24 @ 8lbs.
In & Outs: 32

For round 2, I’m going to follow the “Lean Program” (it uses the same 16 workouts, but in a different order than the Classic plan). I’m also really going to focus on my abs, and will try to add the Ab Ripper routine a few times a week to accomplish that goal. #journeystrong

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         I’ve written before about my journey with fitness – finding what worked for me and made me happy, finding time to do it. I spent most of 2012 doing my own little thing: mostly resistance workouts with dumbbells and kettlebells and body-weight moves, and I was really pleased with myself. I know that I feel better when I make the time to invest in myself in this little way.
         At the start of 2013, I was still trucking right along, and in May, Chris took a HUGE step and joined the HealthPark. He signed up with a personal trainer, and today he’s about 45 pounds lighter and in much better shape! As a result, I got a HealthPark membership too (one of those, “add your spouse for only a little bit more!” deals) and started trying to go over there for cardio occasionally. But using a gym just wasn’t working for me at this life stage — there is a charge for the childcare room, and I can’t justify spending that kind of money for a half-hour on an elliptical machine! Only using the HP on days when Chris had time to keep the kids at home meant it was a rare occurence.
      And when school started in August of ’13, my workout time just fizzled and died. Keeping up with a 3rd grade schedule, a Kindergarten schedule, an inquisitive and still-nursing 2-year-old, and a household proved to be too much. By December, I was pretty unhappy with that state of affairs. It’s not that I had gained a ton of weight – I was still hovering around my ‘comfort zone’ in the 120-123 range – but I just didn’t feel as good as I knew I could. My energy level was lower and my stress level was higher. I missed that feeling of strength I’d had just a year prior.
     A friend from our homeschool group, Sarah M., started posting on Facebook about a new daily workout routine she had started. She’s a tall, thin, whole-food-eating kind of mama –so I knew that if she was doing it, it must not be crazy or based on bad nutrition. Curiosity got the best of me, and I asked what the program was.

Okay, I remember hearing about P90X a few years ago. When we lived in Elsmere, our friends Misty & Axel did that. But I had the impression that it was CRAZY and HARD and IMPOSSIBLE for a normal person to do. So I kept asking Sarah questions and reading reviews of this new version, X3. It’s similar to the original: it’s a high-intensity interval workout program. It uses “muscle confusion” by varying 16 different workouts over the course of the 90 days to keep your body guessing – cardio, weights, power, agility, and flexibility are all covered. Unlike the original, though, X3 is only 30 minutes a day.
      That sounded perfect to me! I love weights, yoga, pilates… I need some help with cardio and agility. I had a hunch that the variety would help me to “stick with it” through the stuff I dislike. And I knew that I could carve out half an hour. I’m a morning energy person, so ideally I would work out in the mornings. I decided it wouldn’t kill my children to take a break from school and entertain themselves for 30 minutes; on days when I can’t fit it in around 10:30 a.m., I use “quiet time” (around 1:00 p.m.) as my time.
     I decided to order the DVDs, and then Sarah asked me if I wanted to get Shakeology while I was at it. I had heard of that stuff, too. Another friend had posted lots of photos of shakes and recipes when she was using it a few years ago. But I didn’t think I wanted, or needed, a meal replacement shake. HOWEVER – Chris had been drinking protein shakes for breakfast or as an on-the-go meal ever since he began his fitness journey back in May. I knew that his shakes were better than nothing, and better than some of the food options he used to pick (Little Debbies and chocolate milk, not exactly a breakfast of champions!) but I didn’t love the list of ingredients – like high fructose corn syrup. So I decided I’d order a one-month supply of Shakeology and try to convince Chris to give it a try.

    As it turns out, we love this stuff! Chris prefers the chocolate, and I really like all three ‘classic’ flavors (chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry). We haven’t tasted the greenberry yet. In the beginning, I was very sporadic about drinking my shakes, but around Day 48 of my workouts, I started to use them consistently as breakfast. I know of some folks who continue to use Shakeology as a meal replacement for years; I don’t think that would be a good fit for me, but you never know. 🙂 
    So: the box of DVDs arrived, and I plunged in. Day 1 was called “Total Synergistics,” and I remember feeling supercharged. It was challenging; I could tell I had room to improve, but I was able to keep up with the pace and the moves. There are modifications shown for every move in every workout, so even if you can’t do the “advanced” move, you can keep on doing “something.” My hunch proved correct: the timing & variety is, for me, the key to sticking with it. I really hate cardio 🙂 but it’s only for 30 minutes. The countdown timer clicking along at the bottom of the screen reminds me I’m halfway done! Only eight minutes left! Last sixty seconds! Done! And even when I’ve huffed and puffed my red-faced way to the end, I know that I don’t have to do it again tomorrow. I get a few days of the stuff where I excel, yoga and strength training, before I come back to a cardio routine.
      Today is Day 60, and I still love it! It has taken me about 68 days in reality – travel and illness have made me skip workouts here and there. I have only lost about 2 pounds, but over 9.5″ overall.  See for yourself:
 

We have a week of vacation coming up, and I think I’m going to bring my DVDs with me. I may divert from the written schedule a bit (I’d like to do all no-equipment-needed routines on vacation, so I won’t have to bring bands and dumbbells along in my suitcase), and I may not do it every single day – it IS a beach vacation after all! With 30 days to go, I’m really excited to find out what my final results are going to look like. If you’re looking for a new exercise program to shake you out of your rut, or if you’ve heard about P90X3 and wondered if it was really do-able as a non-gym-rat, busy mama: I’m telling you, this is a good plan and it’s worth the effort.

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Meet the author

MICHELLE NEBEL

I write uplifting women’s fiction woven with threads of faith, grace, and Southern hospitality. My blog is where I share a glimpse of my life, and I hope you’ll find the thoughts here encouraging!

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