There are things that have been true for me my whole life—I’m awful at lying, I am a morning person, and if I am feeling blue, blah, or angry the cleanser for me has always been to sweat it out. The problem, as I run a business, nurture a marriage, and raise three daughters, is that there isn’t always a whole lot of time for me to focus on exercising.
(c) John Coleman – Trampoline Design
Insert screeching car noise and broadcast the age-old air travel wisdom, “Always place the oxygen mask on your own face first.” My marriage is better when I am working out, my elasticity and ability to manage the rigors of parenting is greater when I feel strong, and the way I perform at the office is enhanced by time spent upping my heart rate. The question becomes: how do I make it all fit without something getting cheated?
Say it out loud.
My husband and I are not perfect, we have squabbles and sometimes we get competitive as it relates to who is working harder or who is getting less. I’m not proud of that, but there it is. Every time I take a deep breath and say, “Hey babe, I really need a little time to go for a run or something. I’m cracking,” he responds with a hug and a hesitation-less, “You got it.”
It’s embarrassing to say out loud that I am feeling flabby or gross, but as I approach 43 there is an undeniable shift. My hormones are as unpredictable as they were in my teens; I’m confused about what is appropriate to wear or how to style my hair. These aren’t things I can control, but I know, going back to that sweating it out truth, if I reconnect with my body I am reminded of my strength and purpose.
Don’t give up.
My cheeks burn when I think of how many times I’ve said in front of my daughters, “No, I didn’t get to the gym. I had a meeting run long,” or “It’s ok, I didn’t really need to go, this is more important.” The message I send to them, to my husband, and to myself is that I don’t matter. It’s a bad habit, a hideous template, and the sacrifice I make doesn’t help anyone.
As a family we carved out a sizable corner in our basement to set up a weight bench, gym mat, and exercise ball. Next to the mirror that we hung there is a dry erase board, a stack of yoga pose cards, and a book of Pilates exercises. There is also a crate with a jump rope, resistance band, and kettle balls.
I slip down in the mornings before anyone wakes up, sometimes my husband gets up with me and we work out together. Other times I am there by myself and I do a series of stretches, weight lifting, and then, depending on my mood and what my Pandora station plays I might dance a little.
I don’t think that marriage or working out have to fit into tidy little boxes, what I do know is that for either of them to really work for us, we need to be willing to do the work, which is sometimes less about moving our bodies than it is about changing our mindset.
Amanda Magee owns a small business, Trampoline Design, in Upstate New York where she is raising three daughters with her husband. Amanda’s writing has been featured on Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, Brain, Child Magazine, Mamalode, and in the anthology This is Childhood.