Our self-care series continues, as we dive into sharing successful women and their self-care routines each week. I am loving sharing this fascinating look at the inner lives of many women I respect, and I hope you are loving it too!
If you're enjoying this series, be sure to head over to my Instagram, where I'm sharing a 31 day self-care challenge. Each day, I'm sharing one thing you can do to take care of yourself. It's been a wonderful way to start off a fresh month, and it's not too late to join in! We're using this challenge to get ready for our Wake Up Call Retreat in April, and it's been wonderful so far. Be sure to tag your photos with #31dayselfcarechallenge. I'll pick one photo at the end of the month, and the winner will receive $200 off a ticket to the retreat!
Alegra Lowenstein is the founder and creator of Love Every Bite, a program help you stop craving sugar and eat the foods you love, Click here to get the 5 simple changes to give up the guilt when it comes to your diet.
As a Certified Health Coach and a professional who helps women overcome sugar addiction and emotional eating, you might think that I've got my health 100% under control. But I don't think answer to most things is simple, so let me explain.
When it comes to my food and my family's food, all is well. We eat healthy nourishing food, we enjoy treats and indulgences, and we sometimes grab take out or have a frozen meal. This is my definition of a healthy relationship with food. It takes into account modern day living, but in a balanced way.
Still, just like you, my life is busy. Before having kids, I always found plenty of time for career, exercise, socialization, relaxation, and plenty of sleep - the essential components of a self care program that leaves me feeling my best.
But after having kids... well for a few years pretty much ALL of those things flew out the window. I was in survival mode. I felt bad... I was either sad or angry or lonely or just plain down. It makes perfect sense, right? Without career, exercise, socialization, relaxation, and plenty of sleep, anyone would feel awful!
Also, while I had been happy to leave my job when my son was born, once he turned one I began to miss working... a LOT! I realized I was not fulfilled in my life without a career. But then baby number two arrived, and suddenly I had been out of the work force for 3+ years. I also had a hard time imagining going back full time.
Thus began a major journey in finding balance, happiness, AND self care!
Pursuing my coaching business was the first step, and one that came easily. It was actually easy to make that happen. It felt...justified.
But only a few months into working on my business (and still no regular childcare for my two boys), and I realized more pieces were missing.
Next came exercise. Since my sensitive boys did not like childcare at the gym (or childcare in general), I found a group of moms to exercise with through the YMCA, and began to build exercise and socialization back into my life.
However, at this point, sleep, which had been interrupted by two babies, also became a problem. I had not restored by healthy sleep habits since my kids had begun to sleep through the night, and with all I was doing, I was starting to cut into my nighttime rest as well. I was still getting 7 hours consistently, but I was not acknowledging that I needed more. Seven hours is enough, right?
Well, my body was telling me otherwise, and it was telling me otherwise because I had neck pain and headaches. I actually hired a health coach for the headaches. I originally thought it was dehydration. With the help of my coach, I kept journals and used her discovery process to pinpoint the issue. Through this process, I eventually learned that my problem was lack of sleep.
Though it took many months, I started a better sleep routine at night, giving myself time to wind down and get quality, restful sleep. Now there are still nights I get 7 hours, or occasionally less, especially if my kids get sick! When I start to slide, I'll get crabby (or headaches!) and this is my reminder to renew my efforts and push for 8 (or more!) hours nightly. It is hard to get 8 hours of sleep. It's even harder to get more, and that is still something I don't achieve as often as I'd like. But the benefits of improving the quality and slightly increasing the length are noticeable in my life.
The last missing link was simply "me" time, and this one was perhaps the trickiest of all. I have always gotten regular massage, every 1-2 months. This was an easy way to receive and feel focused on "me." But as good as that was, it was not often enough. While I'd like to get weekly massage, that is not realistic. Maybe someday!
I realized that what I most needed in my life was simply alone time. I'm an extrovert, so socializing is usually a higher priority, but I can't ignore the alone time each of us requires to feel nourished and happy. My husband works from home, so alone time can be hard to come by.
To meet this goal, I've started to go for short walks in the morning before anyone wakes up. I'm a morning person, but I'm more like a 10 o'clock in the morning person. My ideal life includes waking up around 8am but having time to be alone (or at least be left alone) before leaving the house. With kids, I wake up consistently at 7am. Anything BEFORE 7am feels obscene to me, so it's not easy to wake myself up. But I choose waking up 20 minutes before my family and going for a ten minute walk once or twice a week, and this is sustainable. It's not a chore, it's a choice. Feeling that way about it is essential. And guess what - that is why I don't do it everyday!
I also made a point to always brush my teeth, scrape my tongue, splash my face with cool water and moisturize BEFORE tending to my family. Even if I don't wake up until they come into my room begging for breakfast, they must wait for this 5 minute routine.
So, what's next? The journey of self care is ever evolving. I'm still not done. I still need more time to nurture my body. I've joined a nearby yoga studio and I plan to go once a week. I've also booked an overnight trip taking the train to see a college friend a couple hours away, I look forward to waking up at 8am and being, if not alone, at least left alone until 10am!
Alegra Loewenstein helps women to give up the sugar and more importantly give up the guilt in her program, Love Every Bite. If you've tried to lose weight or quit sugar in the past and have not been able to succeed, be sure to get The Top 5 Mistakes Causing Your Sugar Addiction... and How to Fix Them!
Thank you so much for sharing your journey, Alegra! I know that it can be tough to make the time - but it always pays off!