Why I Finally Take Care of Myself

42 Comments
running-through-sprinkler Image via Shutterstock

I spent my entire twenties as a dedicated couch potato. Sleep late? Yup. Chocolate PopTarts for breakfast? Four, please! Weeknight activity? Watching Friends on the couch with a bag of Doritos, thankyouverymuch.

I was never unhappy enough with my appearance or fitness level to do anything differently, although my jeans size always fell firmly in the “plus size” category, and I got winded climbing the two flights of stairs to my apartment. At 25, I got married. To a man whose business is fitness. He had loved me as a couch potato since we met at age 18, and I saw no reason to change for him since he seemed quite pleased with the junk in my trunk.

When I was 28 I had my first daughter and the couch potato life seemed like a natural fit for someone with an infant. When I was 31, I had my second daughter. Nine months later, I ran my first half marathon.

For the first half of my training, I hated Every. Single. Mile. Sure, I was doing it for me — I had held onto a few pregnancy pounds from each of my girls, and was getting close to needing a size bigger than I’d ever worn before, but mostly it was my girls who kept me putting one foot in front of the other.

My oldest daughter was three, and I just couldn’t keep up with that energy level. Her little sister was just a baby, but the busiest baby I had ever met. I needed to keep up with them and the demands of being a mom. More than that, I wanted to be an example for them. A strong, capable, confident woman. When I was wavering at mile ten on race day, it was their sweet faces on the sidewalk, cheering for me, that made me keep running when I thought I couldn’t.

“Skinny” is not part of the conversation with my girls, but “strong” and “healthy” are big. I don’t talk about losing weight or looking fat, because the world is going to bombard them soon enough.

When I was 33, I had a surprise baby, a boy. I had a five year old, a two year old, and a newborn. I had a husband who had just started a new business, a part-time job with many clients to please, and an energy- and joy-sucking case of post-partum anxiety. Something had to go, and running could have been the first thing. I had shown my girls I was strong, right? I didn’t have time. I didn’t have the energy, or the desire. I was barely keeping my head above water and keeping all three kids alive seemed like the best I could do.

But then I knew I had to do it for my boy. The boy who will grow up to be a boyfriend, a husband, a father. Just like my girls need to know that women can be strong, so does my son. I want him to be drawn to someone with healthy self-esteem based on what she can do, not how she looks. Someone adventurous who feels strong enough to go rock-climbing or mountain biking with him.

When he is a father, I want him to teach his daughters to play sports just as he would his sons.

So many moms are aware of being a role model for their daughters, but our boys need that, too. They will very likely be forming their ideas of good wives/girlfriends based on what we model for them.

I want all three of my kids to know being healthy is important, and feel like they can do anything. I want them to know women can be strong and confident.

And I want them to be comfortable eating that fourth chocolate PopTart every once in a while, too.

Related post: Through My Children’s Eyes

Comments

The Scary Mommy Community is built on support. If your comment doesn't add to the conversation in a positive or constructive way, please rethink submitting it. Basically? Don't be a dick, please.

  1. 1

    H Zahid says

    Thank you so much for writing this! I gave up a six figure salary so that I could have my baby girl and I don’t regret it one bit. I do, however, regret not being active now that I have the time and I feel like I am letting myself and my daughter down. I need to be a better example for her and that begins by taking care of myself.

    Show Replies
  2. 3

    says

    I am just starting to take care of myself after being an at home mom to my two daughters for 13 years now. It’s hard when you are so busy taking care of everyone else’s needs. But I decided when I turned 40 I needed to start making myself a priority. Lost my own mother to colon cancer when she was 51 and she could’ve possibly caught it early if she took better care of herself. It’s still a work in progress, but I won’t forget because I know what it’s like to grow up without your mom.

    Show Replies
  3. 4

    says

    Thank you, from the bottom of my heart for this. I was a mom like your former self (Couch Spud) .. I have a 6 year old & 4 year old son and my daughter is shy of 2. I want to be a healthy role model for them and I had neglected myself most of my days since I became a mom. I woke up on day and realized my surrounding. I live 2 miles from Mammoth Cave National Park. So I stopped complaining of all my baby weight & I started exploring my surroundings with my kids. The weight started coming off slowly with out trying and my kids love our walks in nature and jogging up rock trails and wadding in the river .. My son just started first grade & he said he likes a girl b/c she raced him to the slide while the others just watched lol

    Show Replies
  4. 8

    says

    Still trying to get in the mindset that taking care of myself is okay and that my kids will survive without me. (unfortunately I didn’t marry a man who has a clue so I have had to do pretty much everything and all of the time.) I know that I need to set a better example for my kids but it’s really hard to do when you don’t know how. Not that I can’t, I just really don’t know how. I know that sounds stupid but my mother was a single parent who worked and went to school and took care of my sister and I. She never did anything for herself. Ever. So for me to think that I am worth the time away from my family is just completely alien. When I think about it, I think that it’s selfish to focus on me when I have kids. I need to lose weight and get into better shape but I can’t seem to focus on anything other than kids and laundry and the house and the yard and every other thing that I have to take care of. How on Earth does one just ignore all of that and workout??!! Please tell me so that I can have a clue to put myself first for once. I deserve it. Thanks.

    Show Replies
    • 9

      says

      I try to look at it more like I’m taking care of myself than “focusing” on myself. I want to be able to chase, and run and play with them, and I can’t do that if I’m not exercising daily and eating right! Being healthy and active is the best gift you can give your family (and my first husband was not at all supportive, so I feel you on that!). You are definitely worth it, and you AND your children deserve a healthy, happy you!

      Show Replies
    • 11

      says

      Thanks for the comments. I guess it would be easier if I was actually married to a man who was supportive and would handle things on his own so that I didn’t feel like I was neglecting my duties. I literally have no life or existence outside of my house or kids and it is really sad and has made me miserable. I know that it is a choice but I always felt like my kids would suffer if I wasn’t handling things. I am resentful of the fact that I am everything to everyone because no one is that for me. I need to put myself first and just go for walks at the park because the house will still be there when I get home. I am worth the time and the effort for sure.

      Show Replies
    • 12

      says

      It’s hard the first few weeks. I have a y membership so they watch the kids, or I go in the morning before they’re awake. At first I feel more exhausted, but after about 2-3 weeks, I get the energy boost. It gives me more energy to then accomplish everything else.
      Also, if you’re trying to keep a perfect house you might need to adjust your expectations of yourself. I personally sat down and picked the things that were really important, and then allowed some of the rest to slide. For example, my hubby works second shift so I don’t worry about having the house picked up at night because he never sees it. But I do make sure to keep the laundry room (where he comes in from the garage) and hallways clear. I don’t keep a perfectly dusted home, but I make sure that all the laundry is hung up so that uniforms are not wrinkly. That kind of thing.
      Best of luck!

      Show Replies
    • 13

      says

      take a look at http://www.flylady.net if you want some ideas on keeping the house under control, but have to say it is hard when your other half either is gone for weeks for work, or is a waste of space when they are home, so I’m grateful that we only had 1 kid, & though not the best idea, I left him when said kid turned 15… Never been happier, or at least since I was dumb enough to get pregnant & then married…
      Good luck & there is a lot of good advice from the others above – YOU ARE WORTH IT!!!!

      Show Replies
    • 14

      Tara says

      I was in the hospital for 4 days back in 2011 for pulling out my back again. While I was there I had several different nurses tell me, “As we get older” I think they were in cahoots with each other to REALLY make me pay attention! Lol ok! Ok! I got it! I have 5 kids, and I’ve never been really over weight but I eat crap. I never exercised a day in my life (at 38) but I realized I didn’t want to be in a wheelchair. I wanted to be able to get up and down off the floor without a huge struggle, and not hurt myself with every movement! Lol I wanted to be the old lady who still lifts weights! I joined cross fit and I learned more than I ever imagined! I have since quit because of the expense but I can take what I’ve learned with me to any gym! There is also a website for free works every day, emailed to you, and some are just 4 min. Workouts! Remember SOMETHING is better than nothing at all! I haven’t worked out in a while either but I try to get in something here and there. Hopefully I’ll get back at it 3-4 days a week. Check out YouTube! There are tons of things you can do at home! You don’t need a gym. But you do need self discipline which is where many of us are lacking. Lol

      Show Replies
    • 15

      says

      I work out in the morning before the kids (ages 1 and 3–so when they’re awake they need constant supervision) are awake. Half hour workouts at home. Then shower and get on with my day. It means getting up early, but it’s worth it!

      Show Replies
    • 16

      says

      Go to a gym with childcare, my kids love it so much they beg to go which helps keep me on track because a lot of times when I might be tempted to skip because I’m exhausted, I’ll still go just to shut them up, lol. Beyond that it’s all about priorities. I’m a single mom, there’s NO WAY I can “do it all”, so I don’t even try. With three little boys running amuck my house is always messy, I have the shaggiest lawn in the neighborhood and I’m sure my neighbors hate me but my kids are healthy, fed, loved and their mama is fit and strong, IDK, to me it’s a happy trade.

      Show Replies
  5. 17

    says

    I have been using my gym for childcare during the summer if im working oyt there. but most is done at home with them with me, we have a treadmill which helps a lot, but between my husband and i we make sure we plan out our weeks so we both can get work outs in! Its a lot about just making it a priority and scheduling it just like anything else. Dont make it an option.

    Show Replies

Load More Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>