I often wonder what my caregivers thought about self care during the time that I was growing up, especially my mother. She was a single parent raising 8 children. I don't think self care was even on her radar because she was too busy trying to survive and take care of us. I understand that I am privileged now, and that my daughter will have an entirely different perspective on taking care of herself because of her upbringing. She has 2 parents raising her and just one older brother. She has grandparents who love to have her over for week-long 'Grandparents camp' during her summer vacation. She has a village of fitness competitor aunties who look after her. She has a variety of strong women to look up to. These people not only serve as positive, healthy role models for her, they also allow me to take a break from parenting so that I can properly take care of myself.
It wasn't always like that for me. Being a daughter of migrant workers, I put in a lot of after school and summer hours working to help our family financially. We weren't thinking about nutritionally sound food or macronutrients either; it was all about what would fill our bellies up longer. Culturally, we ate a lot of rice and beans, tortillas, and chorizo. They became my comfort food as I made my way through college. Whenever we did have extra money, it went to fast food and quick fixes for the adults such as a drink or cigarettes. So my upbringing, culture, and economic circumstances shaped my eating habits and my relationship with food.
Let's just say that I didn't learn about self care from my aunts, who were so heavy they couldn't babysit us. I watched as issues such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and chronic knee and joint pain held them back from having a full normal life. It was enough to teach me to get onto my health at young age. It's funny how sometimes we don't know what we want, but we definitely know what we don't want.
As we start a new year, I find myself reflecting and taking stock of my life:
What do I want to experience this year? Joy!
What do I want to see more of? Fun and Adventure!
What was my greatest challenge in 2022? Death. I lost my aunt/godmother, my biological father, and a friend and colleague in the fitness industry.
What makes me feel blessed? To be surrounded by people who truly want to support my dreams.
Even though I have built a supportive community, sometimes I get caught up in my old habitual thinking that I have to do it all alone. So I will seek out what I find comforting, which isn't always good for me. When I catch myself doing this, it takes work and a bit of time to redirect my thinking; I get up a little earlier and start my day off with some stretches. It can be a struggle to make time for yoga, even knowing that my body feels better after, when really just want to do is run. It takes effort to stop, breathe and meditate instead of letting my monkey mind run amuck. It takes strength to let people work out their own stuff, because I tend to be a "fixer." It takes courage to say 'No,' because I am a people pleaser.
And as I do these things, I am slowly able to change my perspective. Stretching helps releases the tension in my body so that I can be more flexible. Setting my intention for more joy when I meditate helps me set my roots down so I can hold space for people: my husband, kids, friends and clients. It makes me a better listener. When I focus on others, it honours our relationships and strengthens the support we give to one another. When I am grounded, I enjoy my time in the the gym and find flow. Strength training gives me the courage to say 'no' or 'yes'. When I create more joy in my life, I have more patience and more empathy to give. Taking care of myself ultimately allows me to take better care of the people in my life.
Self care isn't selfish. It isn't a luxury. It is a necessity. I heard a psychologist talk about how it's not healthy for a person to solely focus on a single way of being, such as being a mother, wife, business woman, or friend. For example, if you focus on being a mother, after you raise your child, you may realize you don't know yourself anymore. It's the same with fitness. If you only focus on one thing, like running, you will eventually get an injury. If you only do yoga or strength training, your cardiovascular conditioning will be poor. It is possible to be flexible and strong at the same time- in and out of the gym!
How do you practice self care? And what differences do you notice when you are taking care of yourself and when you aren't? At Fuerte Fitness, we take a holistic approach to health. We know that being healthy goes beyond being fit. Join- or get more involved in- our community to strengthen your physical, mental, and emotional health. And have fun doing it! I invite you to take a semi private training with me in the morning or evening. You can do it online as well! The Mamacita Program starts Monday, Feb 6th! And when have some down time or when you're on the road, listen to our podcast to get inspired by other members!
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Living the good, fit life in Seattle, WA. Stay tuned for more bilingual fitness tips and nutritious recipes.