As a woman and a mom, I get daily messages from the media about self care and what I should do to relieve stress in my life. I’ve wrestled with what works for me over the years, because time for myself has always been hard come by. I’ve tried the twenty minute face mask that’s supposed to renew my skin, or the new seed that goes on my oatmeal and gives me energy. I’ve spent money on massages, facials, and days at the spa. These one offs are lovely, but for me, they don’t do much.

I believe self care is a practice of daily, rigorous attention to loving myself and making the most of my life. It requires leaps of faith and all my self-discipline. My kind of self care is warrior like, fierce, and more yang than yin. When they say make time for yourself, I carve mine out with a Samurai sword.

Since I’m a fitness professional, I’ll talk about what that looks like like in my training. First and foremost, it means spending some of my family’s resources on myself. As a woman this one is extra difficult. I earn less than my spouse, and we have three children who all do extra curriculars, and have hopes of university schooling. So when I think about spending money on myself, I feel selfish for a moment. I’ve learned to wave hello to those thoughts and then say good bye. I fiercely believe I need to live my best life and be my best self. It’s how I plan to shepherd myself to health and my children to adulthood as best as I can. 

Secondly, it means strength. My version of self-care is to be really, really confident in my body.  To do that, I want my body to be tuned, agile, mobile, and strong. I can currently deadlift 145 pounds, push 50 pounds around the gym, and perform precise and complex Pilates exercises. I want to get back to jumping after an ankle fracture, and picking up heavier objects after a broken elbow. I’ll keep working on it as long as I can. I’m looking forward to the day I get back to STAR on the reformer, and for the day when my dancer’s knee doesn’t get mad at me when I fold laundry on the floor. While I have hopes for my body, I also enjoy the present ease and comfort it provides me. 

Doing physically hard things helps me feel strong on the inside. Often when I feel sad, blue, anxious, or in conflict with someone, I go do something physically difficult. Afterwards, I feel more grounded and can find my path more clearly. It calms the busy in my mind and returns me to my centre. 

Are there days when I don’t want to do anything?  I have fewer and fewer of those days now. Being physical, and very active, has given me so much that I rarely have to talk myself into movement anymore. When my kids were little, my lack of time and energy were serious roadblocks, but I’ve always perservered and  kept at it. Now it’s one of the most-loved, more effortless parts of my life. I see my future with more activity, not less, more joy, more strength, and more energy.

That’s what self care means to me.

– Julia