Not long after I had our second child, Stella, I returned to the island in the Caribbean that we had been living on.
I remember not long after we arrived having a complete mental breakdown.
I was still a little postpartum, and somewhat overwhelmed.
Two children was a whole new experience for me, and most days I didn’t know where my time went. It was a learning experience for me to juggle two children, and learn my new way of living the island life.
I will never forget the night that I felt like I just might snap. My dear friend Jodi Winegar said the most profound words to me. I will never forget them.
She said, “Andrea, the heart pumps blood to itself first.”
Meaning, if the heart doesn’t take care of itself first, then it has nothing to give in return.
That day was when I set the goal to take time for myself. To give to myself something everday.
Not long after that, I set the goal to exercise every week day.
I have kept up with that over these last six years.
There have been a few periods in my life that I have missed. Really really sick pregnancy months, and then my 6 weeks postpartum.
Today, I want to tell you why I exercise.
Most of you are saying to yourself, I am not dumb. I know why you exercise. You do it to stay physically healthy and fit.
That is part of it. I am here to tell you that it does more for me mentally then it ever does for my physically.
It is MY time to give back to myself.
I use it to think and ponder.
I use it to mentally prepare.
I use it to turn my brain off and just relax.
I enjoy listening to my music and drifting off in to another world.
I love being out in the fresh air, with no demands from any one but my own body.
I have been asked time and time again how I find time for it with 4 kids.
I MAKE TIME.
I prepare the kids by saying, I am going to exercise now. You MUST leave me alone for 30 minutes. I have been saying this for so long that they know that I mean it.
Of course, I get them started on something; a puzzle, a game, an art project. Often times, I will send them outside.
NO ONE is allowed in my room while I exercise. In fact, I conveniently have to move my rocking chair in front of my door way so that I have room to exercise.
I am sure some of you think this is crazy, but I really am a better mother after I have my 30 minutes of solitude.
I have a system.
I prepare the day before for what will be a good time tomorrow, and I often put my exercise clothes on first thing in the morning so that it gets done.
Sometimes I exercise at night, other times it is in the morning.
If I exercise at night, I like to put my clothes on before I get the kids in bed. Then I am ready to go.
I always exercise at home, or in my neighborhood.
I do not have a gym membership. It is a waste of time for me. I don’t have time to give up to drive there, and drive home.
I only exercise for 25-45 minutes.
I use exercise videos, free weights, a palates machine, a ball, bands, and my own body for equipment.
I switch things up so I don’t get bored.
I always listen to music.
I always feel better when I am done.
I could have had the worst day, and a short run or brisk walk can change my mood in an instant.
Remember that the heart pumps blood to itself first.
What are you not giving yourself?
What do you need?
Make time for it… make it a priority.
I encourage you to make exercise a priority. It really has changed my life.
My mood, my body and my spirit all feel better because of it.
I am leaving you with a couple of nostalgic pictures.
This is where it all began for me; my love of exercise, on the island of Saba.
I used to get up each morning and go for a run.
I would run to this point, and then sit and look out over the ocean. I would take 5 minutes to think and pray. Then I would get up and run home.
On some occasions, I would run up part of the Mt.Scenery trail. A steep climb carved out of the mountain; 1064 steps to the top. I would do around 200 steps, and then hit a path and run home.
I remember as our time on Saba came to an end saying to myself each morning, “I only have 6 more mornings to run here, or only 5 more days of this view on my run.” Then finally, “this is my last morning at my favorite point, it is time to say goodbye.”
Once we said goodbye, I felt like I got to bring a part of it with me. Of course my memories, and also my love of exercise.
This is where I learned to embrace exercising.
Thanks Jodi for teaching me just how important it is to take care of myself first.