The greatest tool I have found in my health and wellness journey has nothing to do with counting my steps each day or drinking green smoothies. My most helpful tool has been to simply take pauses during my daily routines. Instead of constantly searching for advice on what I “should” be doing to feel my best, I try to pause, reflect, and actually listen to what my body needs. A pause helps with shutting off that voice that’s saying, “you called that a workout? Go get on that treadmill”. In a time of information overload, it can be overwhelming trying to keep up with the latest and greatest of the health and wellness world. So many of us spend our lives on the go, living by our to-do lists, we miss out on these moments of reflection and listening to what our bodies need. We rarely find them until we have already reached our limits.
For me, a day will come every once in a while, where I’ll have my alarm set and clothes ready for a morning workout, only to wake up and decide, nope, no, not going to do that today. Then the next day will come and that constant drive to do everything simply shuts off. It’s in these moments, that I basically have three options:
- Follow the pressure to keep performing and the “no days off” mentality
- Give up altogether
- Listen to my body and decide what I truly need in that moment
It’s in those moments that I realize I’ve known what I’ve needed all along. I’m not saying this is for everyone, or that if your body is really telling you to eat a dozen donuts every day you should listen (this is especially important to understand if you are new to your health journey). However, if you find yourself overdoing it sometimes, or dreading your daily routine, it doesn’t have to be that way.
Those moments may feel like a failure, but I’ve learned to stop trying to fit every healthy lifestyle tip or hack into my life. I have stopped letting exercise and my next meal prep for the week add pressure to my long list of to-do’s, and instead think about how I actually want to move my body and be kind to myself when I opt for ice cream instead of saying no to dessert. Normally, this abrupt shift in always striving to be my best self would have me up in arms and planning my every minute to make up for it the next day- but instead, I’m learning to be okay with letting myself choose how I move, or don’t move, in what feels best for me in that moment.
I’ve been greeting the day with a pause, a few breaths and a smile knowing I can get up and move and have a strong body that I get to take care of. Gratitude has become my gym membership and I’ve been feeling better than ever before. Sometimes I take myself to yoga, that I would usually consider my “after workout” treat, I wake up and make some coffee for a morning walk versus trying to fit in 5 miles before work and sometimes my spontaneity leads me to workout classes that would normally be way out of my comfort zone- anyone ever been to an exercise class where they hand you drum sticks when you walk in the door that are for banging in the air and on the floor and walls (yes, it’s a thing).
By listening and slowing down, I found my greatest tools within. My workout and diet became no longer a checkbox, but a lifestyle that rewards and nourishes myself every day. Fitness doesn’t have to be dragging yourself to the gym every morning. Mix it up, make it fun and don’t rule out the mundane- parking in the back and taking a few extra steps, or choosing to walk to the grocery store versus getting in the car- is still many steps closer to a healthier you.
And for those wondering, no, I did not gain 30 pounds or start ordering takeout every night, what I found was space, self-care and happiness knowing that even if tomorrow I’m only able to get in short five minute walks in between work and my to-do’s, I’ll be happy that I was able to move my body and give it the attention that it deserves.
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