Being a mom is so darn emotional! Friday was our last day with our amazing nanny and our first interview with a potential replacement. After two weeks of moping around and coming to terms with our loss, I found myself full of emotions: eager, optimistic, nervous—much like before a rebound blind date. My restless energy sparked a dance party in the kitchen, as my boys and I counted down the time until the new sitter arrived.
The moment she walked in the door, I knew she wasn’t the right fit. Long story short, she showed up 20 minutes late, wearing ripped jeans and conveying a complete lack of professionalism. Logic says she was just one person and we have plenty of time to find someone better, but logic doesn’t always win. Dariusz pulled my hand and wanted to continue our dance party, but I had no desire to dance, or even just to get my butt off the couch.
Life is full of moments like this—moments when your kids are driving you nuts, when you’re stressed about something at work, when you wish you could step out of your mom shoes and sulk on the floor like a three-year-old. Mama doesn’t wanna move.
Historically, I’m not a very emotional person. I’m a matter-of-fact, just-do-it kind of person, which has translated into a “no excuses” mentality when it comes to exercise and many other aspects of my life. As I’ve grown older and life has gotten more complicated, I’ve come to realize that emotional barriers are sometimes just as strong, if not stronger, than physical barriers. Telling someone who feels depressed and is struggling with her workouts to “just suck it up and go to the gym” is like telling a frazzled two-year-old who skipped his nap to just sit patiently and make a puzzle. ;color:#222222″=””>Like it or not, movement is emotional. Your emotions affect not only whether or not you feel like moving, but also how you move and carry yourself.
The way I carry myself when I’m stressed or anxious is entirely different from my happy, confident posture: My butt tucks under, my shoulders round forward and my hips start to tighten up—like a turtle trying to slip under his shell. Even when I’m aware of this, it’s hard for me to correct it.
For many people, storing up certain feelings in areas of your body can literally lead to restricted movement during exercise. I’ve experienced this personally, witnessed it in my clients and had some enlightening conversations about movement and emotion with my colleagues at Balance Fitness Studio (a super smart team of women whose practices include massage, acupuncture, holistic health coaching, yoga and Pilates).
So considering that emotions are so powerful and being a mom is so darn emotional—what’s a tired, stressed, upset, hormonally charged mama to do?
These past few weeks have really tested me—between our sitter leaving us, my husband being in Poland, and my kids being, well, kids. But they’ve also challenged me to look beyond my “just do it” mentality toward exercise. Following are some things that have helped me get moving—when it was the last thing I wanted to do.
- Go for a walk outside. You might start out sluggish, but being in nature has been shown to reduce depression and boost energy. Last week our entire family went for a hike in the woods near our house. The combination of breathing the outside air and shifting my focus to my surroundings totally brought me out of my funk.
- Enlist company. I’m fortunate to belong to an awesome running group, Best Foot Forward. If I’m feeling down, these ladies are the ones who are going to get me out the door. And after a little group running therapy, I almost always feel better.
- Move like a baby. Ever feel like lying on the floor like a two-year-old? Go for it. For whatever reason, I find rolling, stretching, crawling and just moving freely to be super cathartic. It’s even better when my kids climb all over me and we end up having a snuggle fest.
- Get a massage. Since negative emotions can lead to tension in your body, releasing this tension through bodywork can help you move better and feel better. Massage has also been shown to increase neurotransmitters associated with lowering anxiety and decrease hormones associated with increasing anxiety. I have the added benefit of a massage therapist who is my friend, so she gets stuck listening to my drama every time I see her.
- Don’t beat yourself up. So you ate a bag of potato chips and watched two hours of reality TV instead of going to the gym. You’re a human, not a machine. Sometimes you just have one of those days. Or even one of those weeks. One of the best fitness quotes I’ve heard was from Molly Galbraith, founder of Girls Gone Strong, at the Women’s Fitness Summit last year. Molly said, “It doesn’t matter if you get in the gym today, it doesn’t matter if you get in the gym tomorrow. It matters that you’re in there 20 years from now.” Whenever I’m in a slump, I think of those words. And then I follow them with words from my husband’s favorite fitness superhero and movie character: “I’ll be back.”