self-care and fitness

Self-Care and Fitness: How You Treat Yourself Says More than You Think

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Let’s talk about self-care for a minute.

How well do you care for yourself? Do you have any nagging injuries you are putting off going to the doctor about? Have you had your mid-life colonoscopy? What about your annual medical check-up? And let’s talk about your self-image. Do you feel fat? Do you like what you see when you look in the mirror?

A lot of these answers, when I check-in with myself, give me a clue to how I’m feeling about myself at the moment. When we get away from self-care and into something else (ambition, overwork, overwhelm, over-busy) we begin to take things like our bodies for granted.

My self-care practices:

  1. Getting enough sleep (I laugh at myself when my iPhone tells me to start preparing for bed at 9:15. That’s a 45-minute warning before I’d like to be in bed at 10:00.)
  2. Drinking enough clean (purified) water
  3. Eating better food (one less trip to McDonald’s for an egg McMuffin)
  4. Exercising almost daily (at least a walk a day, but I try and get on the tennis court three times a week in addition to my walking schedule, to get the vigorous part of the exercise in)
  5. Loving my body just as it is (sure, I’m a bit heavier than I was a year ago. So what. I feel a bit more pride about my body when I’m fitter, okay, so move in that direction by doing 1 – 3)
  6. Getting regular medical and mental checkups (You need a support team, you can’t do it alone, or exclusively with your partner)
  7. I’d love to add having a loving relationship, but that’s not where I’m at right now, and I’m loving myself anyway

When I am out of balance in any of these areas, I try and notice how it is making me feel, both physically and mentally. When I don’t eat right I notice I need more coffee during the day to keep my energy and blood sugar levels at an acceptable level. When I don’t get enough sleep, well, I’m cranky, impatient, and more prone to frustration with the mundane aspects of life that we all have to deal with, like paying bills or attending to a speeding ticket.

One of my long-term self-neglect issues has been a toe with nail fungus. My ex-wife used to remark, while we were still married, “Why don’t you go get that taken care of?” What a came to realize, is I was neglecting the care of my body is a very subtle way. Sure, no one, other than my family, really saw my toe unless I was swimming. And, more than likely, the small amount of fungus was not taxing my immune system very much. BUT… The real “ah ha” moment was when I considered my approach should the same issue come up for one of my kids. Of course, we would go to a doctor, get on whatever meds were required to eliminate the fungus, and there would be no hesitation about it. So what about my own body was not as precious?

How well are you taking care of yourself? How much love can you afford to give yourself, right now, in your exact state? If you’re a bit overweight, well, listen to that information. Do you feel better when your pants are a bit looser? Is it a bit easier to get in and out of the car? For me, this has been one of my on-going love-hate issues. But I’m transforming that as well.

Fitter is definitely healthier. But a bit overweight is not a huge health risk at my age. (Maybe at any age, I am not a medical doctor.) It’s how I feel in my body. How does my body perform on the tennis court when I’m a tad more agile? And if losing a few more pounds becomes part of my agenda going forward, how can I use self-care to guide me, rather than beating myself up, or shaming myself into a weight loss program?

I am not on a diet. But I am redirecting some of my unhealthy habits back towards habits that support my long-term goal of being a more competitive tennis player. Until I’m in my 90’s! Here’s what I am doing.

  • Parking in the outside parking spaces wherever I go and walking
  • Going to the grocery store an staying “on the list” and not wandering into the ice cream or chip section
  • Skipping restaurants whenever practical and eating at home
  • Paying attention to why I’m eating (am I hungry, bored, sad, anxious)
  • Making sure I have healthy snacks around my house (bananas, high-protein/low-sugar fitness bars, raw or lightly salted organic nuts)
  • And the most important one: loving myself and my body just as I AM TODAY, and starting my healthy plans from there

You can’t be healthy and hate your body. You could try shaming yourself into eating less, but I find this habit is not helpful. And contributes to depression.

I am just where I need to be. I can make better choices when I have a choice. It is important that I plan ahead for my food, exercise, and sleep. It is up to me to be healthier, fitter, and adequately rested.

Always Love,

John McElhenney – life coach austin texas
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