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Mary's Moments Blog Post

Showing Up (for me)

The alarm went off at 5:00 am. Every fibre of my being wanted to hit that snooze button.



“You can start tomorrow”

“It’s cold outside”

“You have so much to do today”

 

But there was this little voice that said, “Show up, Mary”

 

I rolled out of bed, put my workout clothes on, brushed my teeth and hair, and headed to the gym.

 

It wasn’t easy.  In fact, everything about that morning was hard – from getting out of bed to the workout itself.

 

However, as I was walking through union station on the way to work, I realized my back and hip weren’t hurting like it had been weeks prior.  My energy was better and I felt good.

 

Showing up when it’s hard is work, and here’s why:

 

Anything you want and don’t yet have will require new thoughts and new behaviours.  It will require that you choose strength over comfort.


Mastering a new skill whether it’s picking up a musical instrument or learning a new language, the initial stages are often challenging and frustrating but the process becomes smoother when you consistently show up to practice and learn. 

 

What starts as a steep learning curve smooths out along the journey, and those initial challenges become stepping stones.

 

Because the brain and body crave comfort and familiarity, they will inevitably resist. 

 

Everyday offers magic moments where you can decide who you want to be.  Be the person who shows up even when (and especially when) it’s hard.

 

The most amazing part is: the more you show up for the hard, the easier it gets.

 

Those are the words I would have shared with you five years ago and although most still ring true, there is a twist. 

 

Since my accident, going to a gym has been but an aspiration.  That coupled with the pandemic and then supporting my neuro-diverse daughter on a full-time basis added to the challenge of “showing up” for myself.

 

How many of us fall off the wagon with fitness and health goals? It happens more often than we care to admit. Life has a funny way of throwing curveballs our way, especially for those of us who are full-time caregivers. Juggling the responsibilities of caring for others while also trying to prioritize our own well-being can feel like an impossible task at times.


There are days when the alarm goes off, and we hit the snooze button one too many times.  Or, in my case where the alarm is actually my daughter and I bribe for cuddles to allow those extra minutes because she doesn’t like to snooze. 


Mornings blend into afternoons, and before we know it, another day has slipped by without so much as a stretch or a walk around the block. It's not that we don't want to take care of ourselves; it's just that life gets in the way. The demands of caregiving or other personal responsibilities, can leave us feeling drained and depleted, with little energy left to devote to our fitness and health goals.


And then there are the inevitable setbacks. A cold that turns into a week-long battle with illness, a family emergency that requires our immediate attention, or simply feeling overwhelmed and burnt out from the daily grind. These are all legitimate life happenings that can derail even the most well-intentioned fitness plan.


But here's the thing: falling off the wagon doesn't mean we've failed. It simply means we're human. We all have our ups and downs, our moments of strength and moments of weakness. What's important is that we don't let those setbacks become the norm. Instead of dwelling on what we haven't done, let's focus on what we can do moving forward.


Maybe it's starting with something small, like taking a short walk during our lunch break or doing a few stretches in the morning or before bed. Or perhaps it's finding ways to incorporate physical activity into our caregiving routine, like playing with our kids in the park or doing chair exercises together.


Our family favorite is stretches when dad gets home from work and, of course, our nature walks on the weekends.


There are many ways to incorporate movement day to day.


“If you believe it will work, you’ll see opportunities

If you believe it won’t, you will see obstacles”.….Wayne Dyer


For all the wonderful women navigating post-menopause and striving to improve their eating habits and fitness goals: You are incredible!


We need to acknowledge the unique challenges faced as we strive to care more for ourselves and our health. It's no secret that this phase of life can bring its own set of hurdles, from fluctuating hormones to changing energy levels and everything in between. Balancing the demands of everyday life while also prioritizing our well-being can feel like an uphill battle at the best of times. It’s okay to acknowledge the difficulties and to give ourselves a break.


Every one of us are resilient, capable and deserving of the very best care. Be good to yourself in this chapter of life.  Surround yourself with positivity and support, whether it's from friends, family, or online communities.  You deserve to feel strong, vibrant and full of life.


The mainstream tells us that exercise helps with stress and that is true however, when you are already struggling to keep your head above water - it can actually be more damaging than good.


When we're under a lot of pressure, whether it's from work, family, or other responsibilities, our bodies can become overwhelmed. Adding intense physical activity on top of that can further strain our already stressed-out systems. Instead of helping us feel better, it can make us feel even more exhausted and drained. It's important to listen to our bodies and give ourselves permission to rest when we need it.  An afternoon nap or good night sleep can do wonders.


There are so many marketers vying for our time and attention.  Trying to sell this and that to help us lose weight, feel better about ourselves.  So many gimmics.  Unless there is an underlying health issue, I’m a strong believer that food is our medicine.  In addition to the saying “we are what we eat”, there is another “if it doesn’t grow from or walk on the ground – we shouldn’t be eating it”.  In other words, all the processed stuff that we know is not good for us but we keep reaching for due to convenience.  When reading the ingredients on packaging – if there is something you can’t pronounce, don’t eat that either.  I could go on and on with sayings that we’ve all heard over the years but tend to continually ignore.


The basic truth is most days, we just don’t have time – right? 


Another hard truth though – if you don’t make time NOW for your health, you WILL be making time for your illness LATER.


For those of us facing time constraints due to work demands or caregiving responsibilities, incorporating better eating and exercise habits can seem daunting. However, even small changes can make a big difference.


So I went looking and came up with some simple ideas (some I'm going to give a try myself):


1.     Meal Prep: Dedicate some time on the weekends to prepare healthy meals and snacks for the week ahead. Cook large batches of grains, proteins, and vegetables that can be easily put into different meals throughout the week. Invest in portion-sized containers for easy grab-and-go options.


2.     Quick and Nutritious Meals: Focus on simple, nutritious meals that can be prepared in minimal time. Look for recipes that require fewer ingredients and shorter cooking times, such as stir-fries, salads, or sheet pan meals. You can even buy convenience foods like pre-cut vegetables, canned beans, and frozen fruits to save time.


3.     Snack Smart: Keep healthy snacks available for when hunger strikes. Stock up on options like nuts, seeds, yogurt, fruit, and whole grain crackers. Avoid keeping tempting, unhealthy snacks in the house to reduce temptation.


4.     Exercise Breaks: Incorporate short bursts of physical activity into your daily routine, even if it's just for a few minutes at a time. Take brief walks during work breaks or while caregiving, take the stairs instead of escalators, do some stretches while watching TV, park the car further from the store.  Every little bit of movement counts.


5.     Multitasking: Combine exercise with other activities for time efficiency. For example, listen to podcasts or audiobooks while walking, do squats or lunges while cooking dinner (I imagine my husband would look at me like I have two heads – but what the heck – I may give this one a try) or incorporate strength training exercises while playing with your children or grandchildren.


6.     Prioritize Self-Care: Make time for activities that bring you joy and relaxation. Schedule regular breaks throughout the day to recharge and avoid burnout.  Try some stress-reducing deep breathing exercises to support your overall health.


By making small adjustments to our daily routine and being mindful of our choices, we can still prioritize our health and well-being even in the face of demanding schedules. Consistency is key.


Whatever stage of life you are in, whatever your circumstances, be kind to yourself along the way. We're doing the best we can and that's something worth celebrating.


Here’s to recognizing our NEEDS and our VALUE.  We offer so much to our families, friends and the world – it’s important that we are healthy and feel good.

 

“Showing Up” for you!

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