Friday, January 22, 2010

It's not selfish: Making time to exercise

My youngest kids stared at the sword in awe. Finally, my 3-year-old piped up: "Mama? Did you used to be a pirate?"

No, but way back when, I used to be a fencer, and I've always missed the sport. Every couple of years I'd look up the number for the local fencing club, but I never got around to calling. It seemed impossible to carve out that time for myself. It seemed irresponsible to spend money on the membership fee. How could I go off, at bedtime no less, and do something each week that didn't involve or benefit the rest of the family? It seemed so... selfish.

My husband didn't see it that way, but I am a bit... how do you say... um... stubborn. Like a mule. While I clung to my excuses, he dug up my old foil, handed it to me, and told me that practice started up right after New Year's. And that he had signed me up already.

So I'm fencing again, for the first time in 15 years. And -- in spite of the aching muscles and the fact that, ye Gods, I am definitely not in my flexible and energetic early 20s anymore -- it felt wonderful.

Instead of me time, I've been making excuses. My excuse for not exercising has always been some variation of "I have no time." Before I had kids, I had no time because I was working 60 to 70 hours a week. Then I started dating my husband and we got married and I had no time because I had three new, beautiful stepkids with whom I wanted to spend every second possible. Then we moved out to the quasi-country, and I had no time because my commute was so long. Then we had more kids and I had no time because the little local club met on Wednesdays after dinner, and my husband worked nights, and if I wasn't there who would do bedtime?

The excuses were wearing thin, even if I wasn't. The big kids don't need me at night anymore, and my husband works days now, so he's at home to manage the littles at bedtime. The club meets practically within walking distance of our house. And still, I wouldn't sign myself up.

So he did.

Sweaty and sore after an hour on the strip, I realized that if he hadn't, I'd still be making up reasons why I have no time, instead of, you know, just making time.

Sometimes, "me" time isn't taken, it's given. And the best thing you can do is use it and be grateful.

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