The more I learn about coaching and training, the more I end up telling people to take it easy. It seems butt-backwards in the pursuit of fitness to down-shift. I am shocked how frequently I tell people to do less, to set boundaries and to schedule an hour for themselves - yet it must be done. Our westen, christian society values Hard/Long Work. In America, Hard/Long Work - not deep work - has become our new god. Even in making ourselves happier and healthier, modern busyness takes a toll on our actions. People are more stressed than relieved to workout or play with their kids. What our bodies desire are more moments of healing and idleness. Treating our body like a machine with needs, tune-ups and races is really the way to approach our fitness.
The USA is the only country I have lived in where people brag about how much they work. Granted, we have benefited greatly from this work-centered philosophy in both the private and public sector, growing a nation that influences the rest of the world and how they do business. But this idea about how a typical work day should look is taking a toll on people that want to enjoy their lives AND be productive at work. It is commonly said that idle hands are the devil’s playground. This, for that large part is crap. As it turns out, idle hands are the philosophers hands. Idle hands are the catalyst to great breakthroughs in creativity and problem solving. Einstein slept hours longer than his contemporaries and worked slower than most other physicists. Why? Because your subconscious mind will solve many more problems and prepare you for much more work than any amount of desk time ever will.
I see so many burnt out clients doing the right things and fulfilling requests of bosses, co-workers, friends, spouses, kids and doctors. Then, they try to add on a workout on top of all their other obligations. They wonder why their relationships are crumbling, they aren’t losing weight and they don’t want to go out with friends.
You want to do right by your family, your job and your health. Take a step back and evaluate your activities. There needs to be a push-pull, a yin-yang, or a give-absorb. If you plan on throwing a ball around with the kiddo later in the afternoon, don’t burn your shoulder out at the gym doing snatches and push-ups; go for a run instead. Or maybe if you feel like you don’t have enough Me-Time but you are going to the gym five days a week; just skip one day of pushing to use that same hour on an activity that means something to you and your mental or physical health.
Many new mothers are over-worked and resentful they are being stretched too thin. I understand it is largely part of the deal of being a new mother. I also see a dynamic that new mothers are taking too much control over the babe and not letting anyone else step in for a fear that something will not be done “right.” Yes, Grandpa or Dad or crazy Auntie Char may indeed jimmy rigg a bottle holder on the bassinet so they can watch TV easier but… your baby is alive and fed, right? And they are safe and with someone who loves and cares about them - which is really the most important thing. Plus, Mama got to take a nap and go to the spa.
There are so many examples of self-care. It is literally anything that you enjoy doing, that makes you relax and feel like you’ve lived a nice life. A good friend of mine recently started getting her nails done once every two weeks. It makes her feel fierce and put together in meetings as she travels all over the country for filming. Yes, she busted her tuckus to get where she was at. Once she got there, she found herself over-worked with three looming deadlines, a scarce editing staff and filming literally in the middle of a fire-fight. She survived the tragedy, talked to the victims families and decided that life was too short to wish she had gotten a foot massage and her nails done before she started interviewing people whose lives will never be the same.
So what makes you feel like an individual that in in charge of their own life? I have a weekly checklist of self care routines: one afternoon/evening with a friend, one bath with candles, one sauna session and one hike. Most weeks, one or two of those fall short. BUT! If I am feeling off, I check my list and can see that this week, I need to see a friend or I need to sweat it out in a sauna.
Trust me, as much as you think staying at home and skrizzity-scrolling through IG or watching 7 hours of Beach Life on HGTV (very guilty) is nice and makes you feel better, it does the opposite of relaxing your nervous system. Really, how relaxing is flashing light and people talking loudly at you?
The more business I do, the more I realize that there are times for great busyness and times for boundaries. There truly is no pouring from an empty cup. Don’t fall into this trap of out working and out earning. Learn how to be productive and protect that time with everything you have. Allow space for insight and special moments. Understand that going out to see your friend or talking with a loved one isn’t supposed to feel like a chore every time you do it. See restorative activities just as useful as a workout itself. There are so many activities to choose from to make you feel connected to this life.
If you are doing all the right things - working out, eating healthy and showing up to work on time - but still not feeling joyful or losing weight, this a RED FLAG to me as a coach that you are having trouble down-regulating. We need to go over all your activities and trim the fat. Literally!