If You Want to Take Better Care of Yourself, Start with Five Push-Ups.

At the end of the day I feel as if I have nothing left to give. In the middle of taxiing the kids around for their extracurricular activities, keeping a semi-clean house, grocery shopping, cooking and maintaining some semblance of having my act together, the thought occurs to me, I really do need to get better at taking care of myself. But I find every reason in the book not to. I can’t go for a walk because I need to make dinner. I can’t catch that morning yoga class because I have to bring the kids to school. I have no time to do Sunday meal-prep, read, or catch my breath between checking off the long list of duties on my to-do list.

Do you feel the same way?

We are so good at taking care of others. What if we took care of ourselves with the same fervor that we take care of others in our lives? What would that look like?

Feeling the toll it was taking on me, the years of putting others before the needs of myself, I began the internal dialogue about what it would mean to take better care of myself. I recall the cliched mantra I’d heard time and time again, You are no good to others unless you’re good to yourself.

I want to get better at being better to myself so I immediately recall all the goals I’d wanted to accomplish this year, and with that, I retrieve my computer and Google ‘upcoming 5k’s in San Antonio’, but then I remember that I haven’t run a 5k since 2006. Unless I’m willing to train harder than Rocky for the next 21 days in order to cross the finish line in some dignified fashion for the St. Patty’s Day run… I’m going with ‘no’ on that one. For now.

Oh, I know! I’ve always wanted to hire a personal chef. I know if I had a personal chef, I’d eat better, feel better and fit into the size 8 jeans that still hang in my closet from 2010! I called the phone number on the business card that my Uber driver (who happens to also own a personal chef side-business) handed to me right before I made my way onto the airport drop-off area. The cost of a personal chef equates to a third car payment, so needless to say, I will have to stick to cooking my own repetitive meals. For now.

Back to Google. I search for retreats. Google does not disappoint––Costa Rica, India, Bali, Thailand, but I have to be realistic, who has that kind of money? Plus, my passport expired in 1997. I’ll keep my search within the United States. I’ve heard those retreats in Arizona can be transformative. I read that for a mere $2500 master yoga instructors will set the conditions for the ultimate transformative experience. This advertisement has my full attention. But pretty quickly, phrases like rediscover yourself, spiritual wellness, and self-awareness get drowned out among weighted phrases like before dawn, outdoor hiking, vegetarian cuisine, and my personal favorite sweat circles. This is not what I had in mind. Like ever.

Back to the old drawing board.

Do you know what I heard is good for you but I dislike with a passion? Exercise. It should be a four letter word. But it’s good for me, it’s good for my health, my bones, my energy, flexibility, blah, blah, blah…and it’s free.

But I just haven’t found the time, no, that’s not right––I haven’t found the motivation to begin. And with that, I decide this is the journey I need to embark on.

So I decided to get out of my own way and start small. Very small.

Five push-ups. That is what I started with. Every night before bed, I found myself on the floor grunting and quietly admonishing every single ounce of it…for the first few days. It got easier and eventually the cursing stopped. I pushed through it. It wasn’t pretty, but it wasn’t failure either.

A week later, it’s less about the five push-ups and more about what doing this means. It means that I will have kept my word to myself, the same way I keep my word to everyone else in my sphere.

It’s that I came, saw through it, and I conquered––for myself.

The 5k, personal chef, and retreat, although tempting, will have to wait.

I am two weeks in and I’m up to 15 push ups without collapsing from the upper body weakness I had used as an excuse not to begin.

So what does it mean to take care of yourself? Here are a few ideas to prompt you on your own journey.

  • Jot down the creative ideas that have been marinating in your mind and create an action plan of three next steps to follow through. Try making your idea come to life.
  • Honor your time. Evaluate the people you are spending the most of your free time with. Do they make you want to do better for yourself? Do you find that the incessant negativity they emit sucks the life out of you? If it’s the latter, then pull back. Your time is fleeting and you will never get it back. Stop spending it in a space where problems are admired and where your spirit isn’t renewed.
  • Get a massage, Groupon is constantly running specials on massages!
  • Evaluate your water intake. Are you walking around in a perpetual state of dehydration
  • Social Media. The comparison game on social media is a real phenomenon. There’s a reason why researchers have indicated that social media plays a part in depression. The constant comparison is self-sabotaging. And by the way, nobody’s life is perfect.
  • Do something nice for yourself––go for a walk, do brunch with the gals, plan and cook a dinner for you and your partner.
  • Volunteer
  • What’s on your plate? Make a list of all the things that you do––cleaning, cooking, shopping, school events/sports, can you delegate out some of those items to someone else or hire help?

If you can’t pull off the massage, plan a girls night, or if the thought of ridding yourself of social media makes you want to cringe…

Then start with 5 push ups.