Okay, so I’m sure we’ve all heard something similar to the title of this blog at some point in our lives. Either a friend’s told us, or we’ve read a magazine article about it, or maybe even our family doctor has shared this sage advice.
We know the physical benefits of exercising—improve heart health, increase muscle strength, ward off disease, etc. But we often forget the mental benefits of exercising.
For me, going out for a run is usually a great way to unwind. It allows me time away from other distractions to think, or to plug into my music and let the worries slip away. I come home tired, yet energized. My mood is lifted. I feel empowered. I feel stronger—mentally and physically.
As a mom who’s been called “other-focused”, I admit that I have a tendency to take care of others before myself. Trying my best to ensure that others have what they need.
Just the other day someone tried to explain why it’s important for me to make sure I have what I need emotionally and physically, too.
“It’s good for your health and well-being.”
“No one else will take care of you as well as you should take care of yourself.”
“It’s good for you to model for you daughters that taking care of yourself is important.”
My friend and I both chuckled when I admitted that if there’s one thing that would motivate me to do my best to be healthy, it’s that last reason she gave. I’ll do almost anything if it’ll benefit my girls. Of course, my friend smirked a little as she reminded me that with “other-focused” people, explaining how their actions might benefit someone else can be the best motivator.
So, this past weekend, I took some time for myself. Sure, it’s a little easier for me since I’m a single mom and my girls are all out of the house now. But my schedule is so jam-packed, I almost backed out of the weekend. Nearly convinced myself I had too much to do. Too many projects at work and at home to warrant going away for a long weekend. But ultimately, I hit the road and the ocean.
I made the drive to Ft. Myers, Florida from my current home town, hopped the Key West Express ferry shuttle, and sailed to my old home town to run the Key West half marathon.
Mind you, I hadn’t trained since I spontaneously decided to register for the race less than a month ago when an old high school friend let me know she was running. Hence one of the arguments I tried to use during my “should I-shouldn’t I go” debate—13.1 miles without training, are you crazy?
But I challenged myself to compete, justifying it as a chance to set my benchmark for 2014. Let this race time be a starting time for 2014, with my goal being to improve by the end of the year. Just like I’ve set a 2014 goal to improve in other areas of life.
And guess what, not only did I finish, but I finished in one of my best race times ever! Granted, it wasn’t a personal record and I did finish a little less than an hour after the #1 female racer, but my time of 2 hours, 19 minutes, 43 seconds was definitely respectable. In my eyes anyway.
I finished that race much like I finish a regular run—feeling energized, empowered and stronger. What better example can I set for my daughters? What better example can I set for myself?
Two days earlier my girlfriend had met me at the ferry landing holding up a sign that read: Priscilla Awesome Runner. We had laughed together as we hugged hello. Post-race, we grinned as she bragged about how prophetic her sign had proven to be.
Awesome Runner isn’t a bad title to have. For me though, it’s more important to be Awesome Mom or Awesome Person. Regular exercise, staying healthy allows me to constantly strive for both.
What about you? Is running your go-to exercise? Or what do you regularly do to help your physical and mental well-being?