I see a lot on my social media feeds about self-care. More often that not, it’s something that relates to food – usually of the comforting variety. Occasionally, there will be a candle or book on show. Or perhaps even a glass of wine and a bubbly bath. But is that really what self-care means? Is that it?
Ultimately, I see self-care as things we can do for ourselves – sometimes to rebuild or to relax – but more often to protect, maintain and even improve health and wellbeing. That is partly physical health but I believe that’s also really coupled with mental health as well. I find it really interesting just how linked those things are and what a effect small changes can have.
Over the summer, I have to be honest and say I’ve really neglected by physical health. I’ve really adopted the ‘holiday attitude’ and thought that I really deserved a ‘treat’. Although I kept up running – setting a goal of 50 miles in July – I started drinking again, reintroduced dairy and gluten into diet and somehow thought that this relaxing of ‘the rules’ was going to be a good thing.
In lots of ways it was. I had some lovely nights out drinking cocktails. Had some delicious meals out with friends and generally just let go. But the problem was, there was no balance. I knew that things had gone awry when I just could not be bothered to complete my 50 miles. I had 2K to go – less than 15 minutes of running but I just couldn’t do it. My motivation had completely gone out the window.
On the one hand, I could argue that wasn’t a bad thing. What did I have to prove? What did it matter?
But it’s the knock on effect. I’ve gained enough weight that my clothes feel tight. I feel like I have indigestion all the time. My skin feels clammy and I wake up with headaches. Instead of looking in the mirror with a degree of self-confidence – I’m panicking about what to wear. In short, sometimes that one thing I DON’T really want to do translates into genuine self-care.
Knowing it was time to get back on track, I was delighted to be invited by Scott McBride to train at his private gym over on the south side of the city. It struck me that training with Scott fulfilled some key elements to really taking care of yourself:
Make time to train
I may not want to go to the gym every day – or even every week. But I know that ultimately it is really is key for me to feel good (and happy!) Having the commitment to meet with Scott meant I made the time. He gave me that accountability I need to show up – but also to keep going.
Our session was divided into three areas – lower body, upper body and then abs. By the end of it my legs seriously felt like they were broken. But with Scott’s encouragement I kept going through all the sets and pushed myself far beyond what I thought I was capable of. I was also reminded of that the next day when I tried to walk down the stairs!
It can be really tricky to find the time to train when you have kids, but that’s also the benefit of having a private training facility – the kids can go with you! Scott is happy for kids to come and just watch (there’s space to chill out with an iPad) or to even join in some simple body weight exercises. I know Katie would LOVE to come to the gym with me and it’s a great way to normalise exercise for kids too.
Chatting with Scott during our session also gave me time to reflect. We talked about why I didn’t finish the 50 mile challenge. We chatted about nutrition – and it’s pit falls. But when I say ‘we talked’ – Scott is actually a GREAT listener. I realise that I needed space to think things through and someone to bounce ideas off.
Scott helped me to realise that I knew exactly why I had lost motivation and had gained weight. But that life happens. To become an absolute toned machine type person requires A LOT of work. It doesn’t require cake and wine. I’m ok with not being a machine but I do need balance. Whilst Scott obviously falls into the machine category (it is his job!) – I loved that he has kids and could really understand where I was coming from.
I would consider myself as someone who has quite a lot of gym experience. I know how to do lots of different exercises but I often do find myself at a loss. For example, I find myself putting together three exercises that are actually doing the same thing – usually something I find easy! My solution to this is to often just repeat the same routine over and over again. But of course, over time this stops actually having the same effect.
Scott has a Degree in Sport and Exercise Science and a REPS level 3 Personal Training qualification – but also A LOT of experience. It was great to just be able to go and train with him knowing I was getting a total body workout. In retrospect I should’ve been taking notes but it gives me a reason to go back!
You can find a bit more out about Scott over on his website – McBride Fitness – but if you’re feeling like you need to get back on track. Or even on the track to begin with. Go chat to Scott and make a bit of time for yourself.
Sometimes, self-care may well be taking some time out to have a bubble bath – but I’ve come to the overall opinion that it may also be as something dull as putting your clothes out the night before to make mornings easier. For me, it’s definitely about maintaining a balance that results in a healthy mind and body.