Is Self-Care Just an Excuse to be Lazy?

Self-care is one of those terms that five years ago I had never heard of. But in my corner of the world, these days I hear it all the time. I use it all the time. I’m still not sure how prevalent it is in the mainstream, but it’s safe to say that it’s a booming concept in many nooks and crannies of the world.

Self-care as an act is doing things to take care of yourself. It can be anything from getting massages, doing yoga, meditating, exercising or even just reading.

It’s your time away from your responsibilities to relax and restore.

It’s a concept I love.

But I was reading some internet commentary recently that said that self-care was an excuse to just be lazy and that it was a sign of an over-privileged middle to upper middle-class needing yet another way to justify pampering themselves.

😦

It made me sad. But I truly get it. I am single lady that has no children, I work for myself and thus choose my own schedule. I work from home often. In reality I have so much damn privilege — right?

The thing is? Taking care of yourself shouldn’t be a privilege left to just a select few. It’s something that we all need.

  • It makes us better humans. Endstop.
  • It gives us a chance to re-connect with what we truly value in life. If we are constantly going from one thing to the next, there is no time to evaluate if we are actually living a life that matters to us and reflects our own values. Basically, it increases your own mindfulness about your own life.
  • Engaging in self-care acts reduce stress, which of course contributes to overall health and well-being.
  • It makes us better workers. As a society, via labor laws, we acknowledge the power of taking breaks from work, yet we put in high-esteem those that are constantly “busy” and never take breaks. Why do we do this? It doesn’t make us better at our jobs to work non-stop. I personally find that I run my gears when I do this and don’t actually accomplish as much as when I work in small, dedicated, bursts.
  • In my opinion, it sends a powerful message to yourself and those around you:  that is, that you matter enough to be taken care of.

You matter. That is what self-care is all about, in my opinion. It is not a selfish act. Prioritizing your health matters.

At the end of your life will you be happy that you accomplished everything on your to-do lists and were so busy you barely had time to catch your breath? Or will you be happy that you took time to smell the roses, watch the view or take a bath? I can’t answer that question for you, but I know how I’d answer that question.

I love my little corner of the universe 💕 #thatsky #bayarea #sunset #landscape

A post shared by Catherine Wohlwend (@coach_cat_) on

“Running Makes You Fat”: The War on Cardio

Sometimes we are reminded of how insular our worlds can get. I was talking with someone this week. He’s a runner and plays soccer. Doesn’t have a gym membership and I am pretty sure he doesn’t read fitness blogs and I am guessing his Facebook feed looks different than mine 😉

As we were talking about the ideal body composition of competitive runners and how thin they were, I was curious and asked him if he’d heard the news that “running makes you fat”.

He laughed.

Which makes sense because the idea at face value is pretty absurd. Right?

absurd BOY shoot

I then explained to him that for the past few years there has been a movement in the fitness industry against running and sustained cardio in general. Again, he was baffled. If this is news to you too, the general premise from the war on cardio enthusiasts is usually two-fold.

Firstly, the human body loves to be in homeostasis. So it will adapt to any stimulus that you give it. For example, if you are someone that runs 3 miles, 6 days a week and have done this for several years, while you are most definitely experiencing the benefits of exercise on your cardiovascular system and this will contribute to your longevity as a human, the energy systems in your body will have adapted to your running habit, so you’ll be using less energy (calories, stored fat, etc.) to do this run every day. So, in all likelihood, you won’t be changing your body composition/aesthetics if you are this kind of runner.

It’s my *anecdotal* opinion that very few people actually run like this. That is, very few people are so consistent with their running distance, speed and other variability factors that they would end up in this camp. Most serious runners know that they need to adapt in all sorts of ways and will do speed work, hill work, vary their distance, etc. And the rest of us aren’t running enough to become that adapted.

And secondly, “Running eats away your muscle tissue”. This idea also has to do with the energy systems of the body and the belief that your body will tap into muscle tissue as an energy source. In my opinion, this is kind of a gross misrepresentation and misunderstanding of the fuel sources that your body likes to use. Your body doesn’t prefer to break down muscle tissue for energy. Why would it? This is the type of thing your body would like to do when it’s fully tapped out — when you are starving. It could certainly happen if you are dabbling in dangerous nutrition territory or if you have an exercise addiction.

So — the war on cardio folks and running aren’t quite wrong — there is something to their points. It’s just that in my view they are taking some rare cases and running with it to scare people out of exercise.

And I really hate it when people get scared out of exercise.

Because that is the last thing we need! We need to lovingly coax MORE people to making exercise a habit in their life. Right?

Yes, yes, we do! And if you love running, please, please don’t stop!

duathlon

There are multiple benefits to running and sustained cardiovascular exercise like cycling, rowing, hiking, the elliptical machine.

  1. Your cardiovascular system loves it. The benefits to your heart health are well-documented research. I mean, we don’t call it cardio for no reason!
  2. Having a well-balanced workout routine is better for overall health than specificity. That is, if you only lift, you will miss out on the benefits cardio will give your heart and cardiovascular system, of course,  but studies also show that it contributes to overall recovery. That is, if you are training for powerlifting, you could see improvements to your recovery if you engage in some cardio as a complement to your lifting routine.
  3. Mental Health. Regular cardio exercise will help your hormonal profile, in particular it helps release hormones that will help you feel good. So, if you are exercising for depression, anxiety or general stress-relief, cardio is your friend.
  4. It is accessible. The thing that I love about cardio is it’s often easy to get started. You can literally go out your door and run. And while I love my lifting and love a hotel gym with lots of weights, you can always count on nearly any gym in the world to have cardio equipment.

Again, when it comes to overall health — the more well-balanced your routine is between cardio and strength work, the better off you will be.

But mostly it’s important to find exercise you love. Because you are not going to do something you hate just because someone told you it will make you “skinny and toned”. And I really hope you don’t stop doing something you love because someone told you it would make you fat. Because, that is so absurd, I just can’t even.

I Wish I Could Do That!

“I’m not the kind of person that works out.”

This is a thought I had in college and my early 20s.

“I wish I could do that!”

This was said to me when I was doing a workout last year on Thanksgiving morning.

It *really* struck me. The person that said this to me was in reality no different than myself. She had time, access to fitness equipment, and no children. A lot like myself.

For a moment I felt a slight sense of shame — was it bad that I was choosing to spend some time working out on the morning of a holiday instead of leaving early to spend more time with family? was it selfish? was it vain?

Given I’ve been working on my mindset practice for quite some time, I knew how to turn my shame triggering thoughts around. Because I exercise for so many reasons, I knew that I would not only physically feel better going into a huge Thanksgiving meal, but that I would calm any anxiety I had (family, traffic, cooking, etc.).

Here’s the thing: you get to decide what kind of person you are.

You get to decide to exercise. “I wish I could do that.” Is language that takes the power away from you. Linguistically, you are saying that you have no choice in the matter.

But the beauty of being an adult living in the free world? We choose our path.

There is not one kind of person that works out. There are people that run, people that lift, people that swing kettlebells, people that go to spin classes, people that go to yoga, people that do pilates, people that run 100 miles in the desert, there are people that ride bikes, people that hike mountains

Exercise is simply movement. The human body is, in fact, designed to move. For realsies. There is no one kind of person is allowed the privilege of being the “KIND OF PERSON THAT EXERCISES”.

You ARE that kind of person.

You ARE the kind of person that chooses to do something you love.

You ARE the kind of person that can decide to be joyful in your movement.

You CHOOSE to be that kind of person.

You choose to be this kind of person by the everyday small choices that you make. You choose to be this kind of person by developing habits. The difference between myself and the person who made the comments to me?

  • I wake up early and have a structured sleep schedule that I prioritize.
  • I don’t negotiate with myself about exercise, I simply do it.
  • I have found movement that invigorates my soul.

In life, we can be “victims” of circumstance or revel in the joy that is the wide open path of choice.

What do you choose for today? Remember, it’s the small choices that add up to something amazing.