Why self-care is important, especially now

Apples and honey are a Rosh Hashanah tradition, for a "sweet year." Details at une femme d'un certain age.

This year….maaaaan... If you feel like 2020 has been one big kick in the teeth, you’re not the only one.

And the next few months are going to demand a lot of us. Maybe you’re volunteering for a political campaign, or have signed up to be a poll worker (yay, good for you!), or are working with local charitable organizations or your church. Maybe you’re caring for family members, or have kids or grandkids doing remote learning, or are working from home. Not to mention the holidays, whatever those will look like for you this year.

With all of this stuff going on, it can seem trivial to talk about and invest in personal fitness and self-care. But it’s not.

Self-care isn’t selfishness…

A therapist once told me “you can’t give someone a drink when your own well is dry.” What she meant by that is if we are worn out and depleted, we can’t be at our best to help others. Or as the emergency briefing on any airline says, put on your own oxygen mask before assisting those around you.

You can't give someone a drink when your own well is dry. Self-care is so important, especially now. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

Yesterday was Rosh Hashanah. In the Jewish calendar, this day marks the start of a New Year. I’m choosing to embrace that tradition, and the principle of tikkun olam, or “healing the world.” I’m trying to look ahead and “be the change I want to see in the world.”

One of the very best things I’ve done this year to “replenish the well” has been to sign up for Faster Way To Fat Loss. Doing this program over the last 8 weeks has boosted my energy, improved my focus and confidence, and added a welcome bit of routine in these “fluid” times. You can read more about my experience with the program HERE.

Grabbing 2020 by the horns…

Susan B. with a 15 lb. kettlebell. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

There’s still time to sign up for the next round which starts tomorrow 9/21 with Coach Karen. I figure we might as well use this time…it’s going to go by anyway. Why not make a fresh start toward better health and wellbeing?

(Disclosure: I am paying for the program and am not being paid to promote it. If you sign up through my link, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you. But my enthusiasm is genuine!)

How are you “replenishing the well” these days?

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  1. I’m missing my in person yoga and tai chi classes but signed up for a virtual yoga class -zoom- through Blue Cross, I’ve visited one class but found it difficult to hear and to see the instructor from my vantage point on my mat and where my tiny screen is suspended. Just not the same but I’ll stay with it!
    I walk 2-3 miles a day. That’s all. I dread this winter actually. I truly believed thus virus would be behind us. It’s not, and I’m seeing cases creeping up as we’ve loosened restrictions….I pretty much was doing better March thru June. Not now. Much change my mindset.

  2. I signed up for Faster Way after reading about it on your blog. I start tomorrow.
    My biggest self care indulgence was Spenga- a studio that offered one hour classes with 20 minutes of spin, 20 minutes of strength and 20 minutes of yoga. It was fast paced and fun. Sadly, the studio I attended could not survive the pandemic.

  3. Your statement, “we might as well use this time, it’s going to go by anyway”, really made me pause and think. There is so much we can’t control during these stressful days but we can try to clear out thoughts and makes plans for caring for ourselves first and foremost. When I take the time to include even the smallest changes in my daily routine, my positive thoughts and desire to do more increase dramatically.
    I live where the winter months are long and can be very brutal. Besides my addition of daily self care routines, I am stockpiling books, recipes to try, sewing projects, puzzles and on and on. It’s so important to have things to plan to do each day since so many of our previous interests are limited during this COVID crisis.

  4. As a teacher, I’m absolutely exhausted and am struggling with self -care. It’s so easy to say, but with what school districts are asking us to do…….. I’m eating right and drinking my water. That’s about all I’ve got time to do. Yesterday I was frantically trying to get caught up in my portable and practically paralyzed from panic attacks and tears trying to do all I’m being asked to do. I’ll be 64 next month and cannot afford to retire. I’m practically crying now just thinking about it. And now I need to get off the computer and go to my second job……..

    1. Dear Debra,
      As a retired teacher, my heart just breaks for you. Luckily, I didn’t have to take a second job to pay the bills. That in itself shows that education is not a priority where you teach.
      No matter how dry our wells seem to be right now, we can all spare a few drops and show our local school & teachers that we do care.

    2. Teachers have been saviors in this crisis….We need to address teacher salaries after this is over…you are priceless!

      1. Also nurses and other healthcare workers. PS, public healthcare for my friends south of the border would be good too.

        As for me, for the first time in my rather long life, I’ve been practically anorexic. No apparent physical problems; must be the extreme anxiety. Normally I’d be thrilled to lose 2 jeans sizes (and I am still very pleased) but having no appetite whatsoever and forcing myself to eat a bit of nutritious food is simply weird. I lost significant weight 2 years ago after a UTI, and didn’t put it on again simply by smaller portion sizes (eating out of a tapas dish or similar vessel), but I didn’t have this weird aversion to food. I’m really terrified about late autumn and winter, when I’ll see practically nobody but my (beloved) black cat.

        I am very relieved that your son seems to be in a safe and happy place. I was so happy that we have such a good place for young adults with intellectual handicaps very close to here in a former (small) convent, though I know they are missing the interaction through their charity shop.

          1. That is so terribly sad. Was she or he elderly? I cried for weeks, nay months, after my Renzo passed away, but he was 20 1/2 and had advanced kidney failure. I’ve had several black cats, and most have lived long lives. Livia is a tiny little dear (a small adult; not a kitten). Both were rescue cats.

            I forced myself to eat two wee chicken sausages from Milano, a nearby Italian grocery, and even stranger, the cutest little green lettuce that is a miniature Boston and looks like a floral bouquet.

            I’m still furious that a teacher should have to take on a second job. My mother was a teacher and she spent hours after her job correcting school work and tests, and doing lesson plans.

          2. Oh, Judy, I’m so sorry about your cat! They fill our lives with such love, then break our hearts when they leave. And Lagatta: home-made soup! I find even when I can’t face a real meal that I can eat a bit of soup & maybe a slice of good bread. You can get such nutritional goodness into a batch of soup with minimal effort, some broth & a few vegetables & herbs. I swear 2020 is testing all of us almost to the edge.

    3. It’s so heartbreaking to hear your personal story. In this great, powerful country, it should not be like this! Our children are our hope for a better future and our precious teachers need to be supported at every possible level. We hear you!!

        1. Hi Debra,
          Sending support to you, and thank you for being involved in young people’s lives. I was a new teacher for a while-second career- and had to quit because it was so stressful and I was not given enough support from the school or the parents. It was brutal. All my family could see the mental and physical toll.Thinking of you today 🙂

    4. Debra, both of my daughters are educators, one teaching college and one on the administrative side designing the new kindergarten curriculum (by the seat of her pants.) I read her your post, and she said she hears similar things from the teachers in her district (a big one in California.) She also says administrators are getting the message, albeit not as fast as she would like. I was a teacher myself. My heart breaks for you.

    5. Your story brought tears to my eyes. Stay strong. Even though you didn’t cause this storm, do your best to survive it.

    6. Debra, don’t give up! You will survive all this madness. Eating properly and staying well hydrated will help you keep going. I don’t envy teachers this year being asked to do even more with even less. Just remember Gloria Gaynor’s famous words: I will survive! And, you will!

  5. In my town, the aerobics teachers have taken to the outside, parks, open spaces, etc. They missed the students, and we missed them. We have dubbed ourselves the “workout warriors “, because we have worked out in heat, some smoke, getting up early and more, but, we a smiling, and happier, it’s working! We pass the hat, or bring gifts, to help the instructors who are out of work, we wear masks until we are in our distanced spots, then remask as we leave. Women working together, it’s awesome. I’m proud to be part of this group of incredible people.

  6. Love your blog and have been following your for a while now! I too miss yoga classes, but I expect it is going to be a while before I can go again. Recently I have been enjoying YouTube videos for yoga. My favorite is Yoga with Kassandra. I can follow her instructions without having to watch her. She has many videos from beginner to advanced. I’m on a new streak and hope to keep with it!

  7. Thank you for the timely reminder…this year has just about broken my heart, and I am one of the lucky ones in terms of health, home, and financial security. You’ve given me a shot in the arm to “keep on keeping on!” …food pantry help at my church, get out the vote project, etc.

    1. The food pantry at my nearby community centre is discouraging anyone over 60 (that’s me; I’m about the same age as Debra) from coming in to help. I appreciate their concern, but it does make me sad. We are lucky here as we are near the Jean-Talon Market and some extremely good bakeries (boulangeries – bread, and bakeries of sweeter things). A friend became severely disabled and went there and the food was as good in terms of both flavour and nutrition as anything one might find at the market.

  8. I just did a bit of digging and it seems that Faster way to weight loss has its roots in am mlm scheme. The founder left Beachbody to start her own company. According to their website, “Upon completion, you will be eligible to host your own rounds of the FASTer Way to Fat Loss® with participants that you refer. You will then be paid a generous commission for all participants in your rounds.” Just a heads up for anyone who is leery of supporting an mlm business model.

    1. Hi Sarah, as far as I’m aware, FWTFL is not an mlm. It’s no different than if I purchased a product at Nordstrom, liked it, and shared it on the blog with an affiliate link. Nothing nefarious here. 😉

  9. I found The Girl with the Pilates Mat on YouTube – lots of choices including standing Pilates designed for those over 60 who are beginners (me), but also all levels of mat pilates. For aerobics, I like the YouTube videos by Jennifer. The 30 and 40 minutes sessions really get my heart rate up and I enjoy them.

  10. Yes, this year has been trying. I lost my father 4 days into this year, a close friend in February, two other friends in June and July, and then my dear aunt (my father’s younger sister) this month. I’ve dealt with my daughter having breast surgery; thankfully, she is cancer free and doing well. With all of this AND the pandemic and social unrest, I’ve planted and harvested a garden, made lots of new recipes, continued my exercise and reached out to family and friends. I spend a part of every day reading my Bible, praying, and meditating. It’s tough out there, and we need to help where we can.

  11. Love your blog Susan thank you. Most of my family live in England and I am coming up to a year not seeing my 87 year old Mum as normally she comes to visit us in the summer, not this year. One of the ways we all stay connected is a weekly Zoom chat with all the cousins and nieces and brothers and in laws so there are about 7-11 of us. I like to just listen to others ‘because it is quite a scum so we can’t all talk at once, but it is so magical to see them on a regular basis and share a joke or a funny story. So that keeps me going mentally. I also read a book after 8pm, no screens, and that helps me too.
    Happy New Year to you and yours 🙂

  12. Hi Susan,
    Is that a 5 or a 15 LB kettlebell? Do you have to buy a lot of thing to do the FWTWL program?
    Cheers, Francesca

    1. Hi Francesca, this is a 15 lb. That’s the highest weight I’m using at the moment. No, you don’t have to buy a lot of equipment. I had some dumbells on hand that I’d bought years before and started with those. After I got stronger, I purchased another couple sets in the next weight increment up. You can also do the exercises using strength bands, or even cans of soup or water bottles. Or do without weights at all. You’ll still get some benefit.

      1. I’ve been lucky to find 3 and 5lb ones in good condition at yard and so-called “garage” sales (Few people in central Montréal have garages). I would like a heavier one, but do have to be careful not to disturb the downstairs neighbours!

  13. I signed up for the Faster Way course! My only knowledge of the course is from your posts and I’m not too sure what I’m in for! YOU look great and that’s what I want, too. Since I turned 60, I have gained 15 pounds (I’m now 62). The exercise that I’m doing at home is, apparently, not enough. So, thank you for the recommendation (I think) and I’ll let you know how it turns out.

    Yes, self-care is very important!

    1. Thank you! Don’t worry, the coaches are there to guide you and help you get started, and answer your questions. You can ease into it and their mantra is to aim for “progress over perfection.” I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

  14. To be honest, life hasnt changed much for me but my husband is a musician and he misses his job. I have always worked from home due to a dizziness disorder. I’m a potter and use to raise Cairn terriers. I’ve sold books on eBay and handmade tops, skirts, dresses. There is always something you can do from home. I create my own jobs. I’m into jewelry making now.
    .Any program that motivates you to move is a good one. You look fit and healthy.

  15. Well, let’s see…In October my house burned down in a forest fire, and we lost one of the cats. My car was hit by a fire vehicle and damaged (though not totaled.) I moved in with my daughter and her family in their 3 bedroom house. In January, we bought a new (to us) house, big enough for all of us. (Moving is much easier if you have nothing to move!) Then my grandson got sick and needed hospitalization. Oh, and then the plague hit. My brother lost his job. My children began working from home, and their kids started the cursed online substitute for school. (Two grandchildren in high school, one in second grade.) California broke out in a new round of hideous fires, and no one wants to buy the picturesque lot on the hill where my house used to sit. Why am I not completely bonkers mad? I’m an optimist, and I have so much to live for. I know it sounds trite, but I count my blessings every day.

    1. Oh wow, I can’t even imagine. So much in just one year. I hope things turn around for you and your family soon.

  16. I hesitate to post this, but I am actually enjoying this time. Life can become so busy and fast paced. I started the year with a colonoscopy, then cataract surgery, then oral surgery for 2 tooth implants then Bam, I was diagnosed with Covid 19. Short stint in the Covid ICU then home where it took at least a month to regain my energy so that I could continue daily task like cooking, bathing, and cleaning my home. Did I mention that this all took place the first 5 months of the year? While recuperating from Covid I napped on our deck, sat by our pool and enjoyed hugs from our 2 kitties. I read during the day although Covid made it hard to concentrate on more than a page or two at a time. I started a small vegetable garden, and have enjoyed the fruits of my labor all summer. My husband and I are both retired, and we are enjoying the slower days of Fall. I have kept in touch w family and friends and have participated in my DAR chapter’s activities over the computer. I know it is rough for many, but I consider myself blessed to be able to enjoy this time.

    1. Yes, Charlotte, I understand your hesitation. Feeling blessed doesn’t seem “appropriate” to some people, I guess. Yes, things are bad, but they could always be worse, and it’s good to sit and appreciate the time. I get to see my grandchildren every day now. Nothing in this world makes me happier than them.

  17. Giving a shout out to M/bodybarre workouts at mbody.com – lots of exercise videos and live streaming classes with a focus on barre inspired workouts. You can subscribe for $40 per month.

    If you want to try a few workouts without subscribing, there are several available on Youtube.

    I am not affiliated with this company, just a fan!

  18. Debra, don’t give up! You will survive all this madness. Eating properly and staying well hydrated will help you keep going. I don’t envy teachers this year being asked to do even more with even less. Just remember Gloria Gaynor’s famous words: I will survive! And, you will!