Wrtiten By: Alexandra Jones
I’m Alison’s super awesome “baby” sister, but I’m also a client. Though I don’t have kids of my own, I play the role of school-mom to 80+ high schoolers in Baltimore City. As a special educator, balance and exercise have not inherently been a part of my vocabulary and my overall health had been suffering for years- even before I became a teacher. I’ve also been living my entire life with a mood disorder, so when I’m down or stressed, which for a while was pretty much every day, the thought alone of doing anything but laying on the couch and watching TV sucked all the energy from my body. However, I’ve spent the last 18 or so months working [with Alison] extra hard to establish and maintain routines around exercise, nutrition, and self-care.
[Alex will be bloging occasionally about her experiences with self-care, health and fitness. She's much better of a story telling than I am. I hope you enjoy (and learn a little something).]
Chapter 1: Sunday Morning
The pigeons outside my bedroom window were cooing gently as I opened my eyes to a few rays of sunshine peeking in through the blinds. The alarm had not gone off yet. I breathed deeply, stretched, and rolled over to shut it off before it sliced through the quiet, enjoying the feeling of waking up energized. I couldn’t even remember the last time that happened, but here I was, waking up on a Sunday morning, without feeling anxious about all the things I needed to get done; I was satisfied, content, HAPPY. I could sense that the day was going to be filled with pure magic and joy.
So… before I really get into it, maybe I should provide you some context. HI! I’m Alex! Officially, I’m Alison’s super awesome “baby” sister, but I’m also a client. In a way, I’ve been a client since before her business even started and I’m what you might call an “almost-mom”. Though I don’t have kids of my own, I play the role of school-mom to 80+ high schoolers in Baltimore City. As a special educator, balance and exercise have not inherently been a part of my vocabulary and my overall health had been suffering for years- even before I became a teacher. I’ve also been living my entire life with a mood disorder, so when I’m down or stressed, which for a while was pretty much every day, the thought alone of doing anything but laying on the couch and watching TV sucked all the energy from my body.
However, I’ve spent the last 18 or so months working extra hard to establish and maintain routines around exercise, nutrition, and self-care. It started with Alison’s Body After Baby program [now Fitness MASTERY], the funniest part of which was the fact that I’ve never given birth, but I’m telling you, it’s for EVERYONE. By the end of my 12 weeks, I had gained a love of moving my body and lost around 15 pounds. I’ve been doing all the various Muscle Makers my sister’s published for years, and she even got me into yoga. I’ve learned so much from her both as my sister and as a badass mom, business owner, and personal trainer. She’s always been a role model for me, and that’s why I thought it would be cool for me to provide my own insights on what I’ve been able to learn from her over the years. This one, in particular, is about what I’ve learned about intentional movement and rest.
So why did my Sunday seem so magical? Well, to keep it short, I had been really focusing not only on maintaining my routines around a consistent bedtime and a balanced diet, but I had been intentionally adding more movement. For the last couple weeks, I’ve been working out at least 3 days a week, going on runs when the weather’s been nice, or finding reasons to take a quick walk over to a co-worker’s classroom for the extra steps. And I’m telling you, the difference in my mood has been phenomenal. I spent all day Saturday helping friends move (after working out, which in retrospect, was not terrifically wise, but that’s definitely why I slept so great!) and woke up so sore I could barely walk down the stairs in my apartment.
“Uh, Alex.. I’m not seeing the magic here”. Hold on! I’m getting there, I swear!
I had promised myself Sunday would be restful and relaxing because I definitely deserved it after all that picking things up and putting them down, but there is one important thing to note: I no longer look at rest and relaxation as binge-watching Netflix and not leaving my apartment. I knew my rest and relaxation was going to be magical because I had already planned my day around intentional movement, my routines, and things I could do that I knew would bring me joy. So, when I woke up Sunday morning ACTUALLY feeling energized, I was PUMPED to remember that I had such a joyful day jam-packed with self-care ahead of me.
Old me would have said, “ugh, I’m too sore, I’m just going to stay in bed.” New me said, “Wow, I’m sore! I need to take care of that!” and I got up, sat on a heating pad while lesson planning for the next day, and then did about 20 minutes of very light yoga stretches. I had picked up the stretches both from my sister and from various classes I’ve been to that I knew targeted the glutes and hamstrings (it’s all about building your toolbox!). After taking a nice hot shower, I went grocery shopping for my meal prepping essentials and when I got home, I threw some ingredients in the crockpot and set out for a very important activity and the overall highlight of this story- a photography walk.
See… here’s the point I’ve been working up to. Rest does not mean staying in bed or on the couch for the entire day. Intentional movement does not mean an intense workout that leaves you dripping in sweat. Rest and intentional movement can go hand-in-hand. My body needed some extra TLC because of how sore it was, and just because it needed to rest, that doesn’t mean that I had to avoid movement altogether. In fact, moving sore muscles *gently* helps them feel even better, so what did I do? Well, instead of using the extra time I had in the day to sit on the couch and NOT move my sore muscles, I rested by intentionally moving my body on a leisurely walk around the city with my 35 mm camera on a GORGEOUS afternoon. I wasn’t overworking my body in any way- I was simply moving. My walk was slow, I drank plenty of water, and I stopped often to take photos of city scenes that spoke to me. I rested, moved, and participated in an activity that lights me up all at the same time. In the end, I ended up staying out much longer than I had planned because of how much I was enjoying it, stopped to by myself an ice cream, and ended up hitting my daily 10,000 step goal and clocking about 3.75 miles on my outing.
Balance is finding the right routine that works for you and making sure that it includes intentional movement, a little bit of rest, and a whole lotta joy.
The lesson here that I’ve learned from my sister is that we tend to get this “all or nothing” mentality when we know we need to make changes in our life but, in reality, it’s all about balance. Challenging workouts are important. Sweating is important. Eating your veggies is important. But what’s also important is listening to your body, and avoiding extremes. Balance is not going hardcore one day and not getting out of bed the next. Balance is finding the right routine that works for you and making sure that it includes intentional movement, a little bit of rest, and a whole lotta joy.