On looking after yourself (warning: teal deer crossing)

I have been told, in the past, that I’m not very good at looking after myself. I’m not sure if that’s true emotionally, but it certainly is true physically. I am not a healthy eater. I don’t exercise. In many ways, frankly, I’m a bit of a fat slob. However – and I possibly shouldn’t even say anything about this for fear of jinxing it (or, rather more likely, simply embarrassing myself when the inevitable backsliding occurs) – I seem to be developing some Good Habits. Gosh.

Most of it is pretty superficial. Beginning right after Claudia’s birth, I took a whole new interest in lotions and potions. Partly (and rather weirdly) that came out of my amazement at what my body had just done. “Thank you, body! You are awesome! Have some nourishing coconut-enriched skin cream!” Um, okay. It was also a slightly desperate act of defiance: I am not JUST about looking after the baby. I can ALSO take five minutes a day to look after myself, DO YOU MIND? Well, fine. So I bought, and even used, a whole lot of products I’d never considered before. (I guess hoping against hope that a magic potion might actually undo some of the damage of pregnancy also came into it.) When those tubes were used up, most of them didn’t get replenished; I didn’t after all really expect them to lift my bust or shrink my waist, and being suddenly rather shorter on income than I was used to, I also didn’t want to spend on such fripperies. But the basic body moisturising habit did stick. And somehow over the past two years, having experimented with a bit of this and a bit of that, I seem to have settled into an actual Beauty Ritual – although I kind of hate the word “beauty” in this context. Maybe I should call it a “self-care ritual”? Ugh. Anyway. Assorted bottles and tubes are engaged for every part of my body… it involves two kinds of eye cream, and cuticle oil, and toner, and hair serum, and so on. Some things twice a day. I’m learning to wear blusher. (I don’t consider make-up to be an essential part of “looking after yourself”, by any means; but being an underslept mama, I got a bit tired of looking tired. Looking better makes me feel better. It’s that simple.) On a less girly note, I also employ dental floss! When you consider that back at university, I was doing pretty well just to brush my teeth before bed… well. Maybe I’m finally growing up.

The more important stuff – what I put into my body rather than on it, and how I use that body – is a bit harder to fix. But I think there are improvements. I eat proper meals now, at the table; fruit and vegetables are involved. This is all just a side-effect of trying to feed Claudia properly, of course. I still eat too much, and too much chocolate. I got far too used to eating to support breastfeeding (still doing that, but it’s not such a great excuse at this point). And it’s far too easy to clean Claudia’s plate for her. But I am now breaking that habit, and I figure focusing on getting good things into me, rather than keeping bad (but fun!) stuff out, is a good place to start.

Exercise, now. Exercise has been a problem. Especially while I was running Purlescence, it was really hard to motivate myself to use my very scarce baby-free time to go for a run, rather than work, or get some sleep, or similar. But now we have a new thing! A shiny thing! An XBox Kinect! It’s sort of hilarious (and dodgy) to buy a games console, preserve of the couch potatoes, for the express purpose of working out. But, wow. We have a fitness game, and a dance game, and they do appear to work. It gets me sweaty, and out of breath, and exhausted. My muscles tell me afterwards how very very hard I made them work and I better appreciate their efforts. So, if I can only stay motivated, there is real potential here. Plus, I’ve been running (a bit). Plus, there are now Zumba classes at the council sports centre practically next door (it’s built on the same land as our housing estate). I haven’t actually made it to one yet (scheduling conflicts), but it’s there…

Looking after myself also means looking after my environment. I am spoilt: we have an amazing cleaner who blitzes the place once a week. My job is just to keep things under control between her visits, and maybe to get the house ready for blitzing. (No, I don’t believe in cleaning up for the cleaner, but if she doesn’t have to start by picking piles of crap off the floor, she has more time to actually clean it!) It’s not a lot to ask – but even so, there’s been marked improvement over the past few (Purlescence-free) weeks. I feel like I can breathe more freely. It’s rather wonderful.

And finally… time away from the computer. It’s really, really good. Really hard to break the habit of checking in constantly; but really good. The more I stay away, the more I want to stay away, and the less interest I have in passively consuming streams of chatter. I do want to blog; I do want to participate; but the constant faffing? Amazingly, so much less appealing than it used to be. I could, after all, be knitting.

So I’m feeling pretty good about my progress, and my prospects. I’m still fat. But I’m not a fat slob. This is progress.

6 thoughts on “On looking after yourself (warning: teal deer crossing)

  1. Interesting, I’ve been having the same self-care thoughts. I think I’ve been officially sleep-deprived for about 8 years now. Really. And it’s getting old (and so am I). My personal new habit I’m trying to cultivate is getting to bed so that I have at least 6 1/2, preferably 7 hours of sleep. A small goal, but one which will hopefully have positive ripple effects. Oh, and I gave up all forms of sweets/candy about a month ago. But not baked goods. That would be asking Too Much.
    I think what I’m saying here is I agree, taking care of yourself is important, and go, you!

    1. Such a good point about the sleep. My problem there is that sleep is in conflict with another self-care goal: having a tiny bit of time just for me. In an ideal world I’d be able to talk to Armin a little, knit a little, read a little and write in my diary a little every night… but as things stand, doing even one of those things seems to mean I don’t get to bed before midnight (i.e. 6 hours of sleep, *if* I’m lucky and Claudia doesn’t wake up early).

      Don’t even start on the sugar problem. I know from experience that I feel and look fantastic if I don’t eat wheat and sugar. But I can’t do it. I just can’t.

  2. Exactly! On the me-time, I mean. Something has to give, and for me it’s pretty much always been sleep. But I think I’m starting to get too old to rely on being able to do that, isn’t that weird?
    btw, so glad you’re blogging again 🙂

    1. Me too! It’s nice to have a proper personal blog again. Not a shop one, not a baby one. No agenda except my own, with room for rambling. Like it.

  3. Too bad that beauty sale didn’t have coconut body lotions! Ha!

    I very much hear you on self-care rituals, and I think it’s something that can get sloughed under the rug sometimes if we make a division between Serious Matters and Trivial Matters (like beauty). When I’m working from home, which I do a lot, the self-care can easily devolve into me nothing but tooth-brushing and basic hygiene. And while this might sound initially freeing from the financial and temporal investment in makeup and such, it actually just means my sense of physical presence drops immensely, and that’s not always a good thing.

    1. Funnily enough, I don’t actually use coconut body lotion. That was just the phrase that popped into my head while writing, since the actual products I was using didn’t quite trip off the tongue so neatly…

      “Sense of physical presence”. Interesting. I haven’t thought about it that way but I think I see your point.

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