How Fitness Made Me More Productive
TCOB. Taking care of business. Getting shit done. It feels so good, right? I know I feel much more content at the end of the day when I know I’ve checked things off my to-do list. Bonus points when I complete a task that’s not on the list, add it to the list posthumously, then check it off. I love that. I’ve always been a “list” girl – to-do lists, packing lists, shopping lists, checklists…you name it. But after we moved states and I became a stay-at-home mom, which was something that had never ever been on my to-do list, I became listless. Not too long after that we threw another kid into the mix and it only got worse.
I was listless AF and cynical as hell. I felt basically nothing except resentment, exhaustion, frustration, and sorrow. I realize that probably sounds a bit over dramatic – even typing it now, it doesn’t sound like me – but I was freshly postpartum with baby number 2, doing the stay-at-home-mom thing to a difficult, tantrum-y, barely 3 year old and a nursing, pooping, and crying around the clock infant. I wasn’t ME. I didn’t feel like me, sound like me, act like me, or hell, even look like me.
I was Mom. My job was them. I played, I changed, I fed, I held, I calmed, I wiped, I scheduled, I rocked, I chauffeured. I lost myself in motherhood. I was trapped in it and buried by it. My hopes, dreams, and goals faded away into the background. And so did I. I mean, what was the point? Trying to accomplish anything when I couldn’t even get 30 peaceful seconds to pee seemed impossible.
I’d get so annoyed by never being able to finish a task uninterrupted I wouldn’t even bother starting. And I mean the most menial of tasks. Emptying the dishwasher should take, what, about 4 minutes? Nope – takes all damn day with Needy Thing 1 and Needy Thing 2 around. What was the point of starting on something knowing I’d only get upset because I wouldn’t be able to finish it right away? I would save everything for once the kids were in bed, which is still very much borrowed time, then say screw it and inevitably let my to-dos sit undone another night.
So I went through the motions, did the bare minimum, and kept the kids alive – which is an admiral feat for any postpartum mother running on mayyyybe 3 hours of broken sleep per night. But one day, and I don’t know why, I woke up so dissatisfied with the stranger I’d become inside and with the woman I didn’t even recognize looking back at me in the mirror. It had been a long time coming, and I decided to do something about it. I couldn’t continue down the road I was on and ever expect to find myself again.
So much was out of my control and dictated by my kids, so I decided to focus on what I could control, which was how I moved and fueled my body. So I scoured the internet for a fitness program that met my needs and began a fitness routine that became a journey. I didn’t have a clue how far it would take me, or how much it would enrich and transform my life as a whole, in completely unexpected ways.
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I started exercising and paying attention to how and what I ate. Right from the start I felt amazing and alive – in a sore and exhausted, yet fucking proud kinda way. And something funny happened. As downright annoyed and cranky as I would get when I had to press the pause button on my workout to wipe an ass, get a snack, settle a baby, etc, I always pushed ‘start’ again, and finished the damn thing. I had found something worth pausing for. Something worth fighting for. For the first time since having kids, I started to complete tasks out of more than just necessity. Hard tasks like burpees, jump lunges, and push-ups! I would put them on hold when I had to, and come running back to finish them at the first opportunity. That resilience to finish what I started, come hell or high water, started to carry over into OTHER areas of my life, as well.
I loved how completing a workout made me feel, so I fought like hell to chase that positivity. I could feel it taking hold of my mental and physical well-being, and lifting me out of the fog I’d been in. To keep this newfound clarity, I had to learn to be intentional with my time. I quickly discovered that how I chose to spend my time mattered. Like, a lot. Small choices throughout the day made a big difference.
For example, I could go stir-crazy in the house at the kids’ beck-and-call every second of the day, or I could make the effort to get everyone and everything ready – moms, you know…leaving the house is always a shit-show and the stroller is a freaking clown car of ALL THE THINGS – and walk to the park. Or if I found myself with even just a few spare minutes, instead of sitting on my ass scrolling recipes on Pinterest, I’d hit START on my workout. Who cares if I don’t get all 28 minutes in right now? If I only started, I knew I’d eventually finish.
This mindset completely changed my outlook on day-to-day life. Only manage to empty the silverware tray from the dishwasher? Only get one of the toilets cleaned? Only write one paragraph for this week’s blog? Only dust one set of blinds so far? No biggie, that’s less I’ll have to do later and it’ll get done. Something is better than nothing. Even the tiniest of steps gets you closer to the end of the race. One little accomplishment after another adds up to total completion…eventually. I never viewed partially finished chores, work, or errands in this positive, accepting sorta way until I saw and felt how motivating and exhilarating a partially finished workout could be.
There is nothing that says you HAVE to get a full 30 minutes, 60 minutes, or even 10 minutes done in one fell swoop. Movement is movement, activity is activity, however you need to divide it, spread it out, and splice it together in a day. Fifteen 2-minutes walks throughout a day equals a 30 minute walk. BBG is made up of four 7-minute circuits, and I can’t even tell you how many times it took me all day to get it done. Sometimes I’d knock out 7-minutes in the morning while the kids were temporarily, miraculously content, then another 7-minutes in the playroom, and the final 14-minutes during naptime or once they were in bed for the night (or at least for a few hours lol).
Plus, I’d be remiss to not mention, that exercise makes me feel like a million bucks! Okay, maybe a million bucks with perpetual DOMS (delayed-onset muscle soreness), but still. When I’ve gotten my workout done for the day, or even just know I’ll be getting it done, I’m much more active the rest of the day. I’ve got my to-do list, and let me tell you, checking those boxes brings me life!
Getting my blood pumping releases endorphins, aka “happy hormones,” that make me feel good, more energetic, and ready to take on the day. More often than not, I’ll jet outta the workout room or the gym feeling all sweaty and proud, ready to run some errands, make that phone call, prep that meal, and knock out those chores. There are days when my son is at school and my butt never hits a chair during my daughter’s naptime.
That’s not to say I don’t enjoy my rest days, or lazy days, for that matter. But now they aren’t the norm and I’m not taking them out of listlessness and the absence of routine. Even my rest days are intentional now, besides the inevitable unplanned one here and there. I have learned to be disciplined with how I set my schedule and when I will fit my workouts in throughout the week. Now I rest to give myself time to recover, recharge, and reflect so I can get up and slay the next day knowing I am in control of what direction it takes.
If you’re feeling like you’ve lost a piece of yourself, or you’re struggling to get anything accomplished, whether it’s because of kids, jobs, family, quarantine, or over committing yourself to others, it’s time to take a step back and evaluate the situation. Identify, prioritize, and take action on what you can control moving forward to enhance the quality of your life.
First and foremost is your mental and physical health and fitness. Start sorting yourself out, even at an introductory, work-in-progress level, and watch other aspects of your life get less challenging. Or, at least, feel the challenges get easier to face
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