by Jenn Krebs, N.D.
I’ve been struggling for four years now. Before having children, exercise was an integral part of my life. I spent much of my youth and young adulthood dancing every day. When I eventually stopped dancing, I tried running, weight training, yoga and kickboxing. All were great workouts, but none of them stuck. The summer after graduating from naturopathic school, I moved to East Rock, a neighborhood in New Haven. I found myself ditching the gym every day for early evening walks. What started as a way to get to know my new surroundings became an everyday ritual; I looked forward to my new routine, and I eventually found my new dance.
Walking became much more to me than exercise; it became my meditation and my connection to my body and breath. An hour could go by in what seemed like a few moments, and I found a bounce in my step, ease in my breath and openness in my heart. During the months when it was too cold or too snowy to walk outside, the treadmill was an adequate substitute. But there was nothing like getting outside for a walk or perhaps a hike up East Rock.
Then came back-to-back pregnancies, two children, moving out of East Rock, and my new life as a working mom. Exercise is the one piece of my previous life that I have struggled to reclaim. I have tried running again and a class here and there, but nothing has stuck or felt right. Days and weeks and months go by, and my busy life moves on without my moving in it.
In the past few months, I have found myself reading about or meeting women whose stories have inspired me to reclaim what is important to me – to take care of myself and to create what I need to feel happy and complete. I certainly have plenty in my life about which to feel happy and whole, and yet, I know myself too well. Moving my body has always been an important part of what defines me … I must find it in my life again.
A patient of mine recently made a commitment to herself to either swim or walk every day. She had successfully fulfilled this commitment to herself for two whole months. Determined not to miss a day of exercise, even during the weekend that she was buried under three feet of snow, she created her own exercise by shoveling her long driveway herself (three feet deep and many feet long) bit by bit on Friday, then Saturday and then Sunday until she was able to get herself to the gym on Monday.
A girlfriend of mine, a busy mother and wife, shared with me how she was waking up at 5am every morning to go to the gym. She had created a time just for herself, before anyone in her house was awake. She was up taking classes and working out on her own. She looked amazing and, better yet, felt amazing. She had created a part of her life that was just for her.
A colleague recently posted an inspirational story on Facebook, describing her sister’s commitment to weight loss and walking every single day. Building a makeshift desk over her treadmill and starting out by walking a bit every day, her sister was currently many pounds lighter and walking hours a day while conducting business on the phone!
Last month I read the blog of a previously obese Broadway actress who described how she let go of years of unhealthy behaviors, one of which was that she no longer met with friends and colleagues for meals and drinks. Now she only meets friends for hikes, walks or bike rides and schedules business meetings at the gym.
My sister-in-law and, I should mention, mother of four (three of which are five and under) shared with me how she is currently training for a triathlon. She had trained last year and completed her first triathlon. She loved it. So she is up at 5am in the mornings training again!
I have a new friend who runs races and plays tennis competitively, neither of which she tells me she did until a few years ago. And I don’t mean she started racing and competing a few years ago. I mean she started running and playing tennis a few years ago!
Every time I hear from my dearest friend, she is running another race, taking another yoga class, and lamenting how busy her life is. If my friend, who works full-time and is a mother of three, can find the time to train, run, take classes … I mean come on …
When I’m confronted with so many examples of women taking care of themselves and finding time to do something empowering, healthy and life-affirming, how can I not be inspired to find it for myself?
I’m walking again. Not every day, but I’m committed to walking more days than not each week. Waking at 5am has never been in my DNA; in fact, the thought of it is painful to me. As a result, I have had to find the time in my already hectic day to fit it in. This has meant a few more hours of childcare each week, a few loads of laundry and dishes left undone, and a few more to do’s added to my already long list. But it’s a small price to pay for fitness and fulfillment and happiness.
Thank you to the amazing women who have inspired me recently. I am grateful. I realize that inspiration is vital because combined with my own motivation and commitment, it propels me into a better, happier place. I will no doubt need renewed inspiration as stress and my busy life challenge my good intentions. Funny thing is … I have noticed inspiration is all around me … all I need to do is look … it’s everywhere!