Strategies for practicing what I preach: Letson

How a local fitness professional works self care into her week

One might assume that fitness professionals always and effortlessly skip to their workouts, fueled with spinach salad and whistling a happy tune. 

Speaking from experience, I can assure you this is not always the case and that even though we “do” fitness for a living, it doesn’t mean it’s always easy for us to practice what we preach. As 2020 lays before me like a beautiful blank page on which to write my best self, I will share some strategies that help this girl get to the gym, a yoga class, a run or a swim.

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Strategy #1: I schedule a date with myself. Until recently, this has been fairly successful, especially for my “errands in the city Tuesday.” However, last autumn my penchant for multi-tasking spun out of control and my Tuesdays devolved into a classic islander approach: running errands at break neck speed so as to catch an early ferry so as to arrive home early. It became a little like running downhill, the pace to complete said tasks escalating into a race with traffic, the ferry schedule, shop clerks, and myself. Sure, I was home early but I arrived home exhausted and miserable. This combined with escalating work and volunteer commitments, I found myself hitting a wall such that I didn’t recognize myself: chronic exhaustion, prone to tears and generally a dulled view of the world. Perky Mary had left the building. It was time to make a change. Along with rethinking my work and volunteer commitments, I renamed my town day “self-care Tuesdays” scheduling my day around a yoga class along with a once-a-month life coaching session. Picking up dry cleaning or the trip to Costco was now firmly in second place. For the moment it’s working like a dream, I’m home later but ever so much happier. 

Strategy #2: I embrace fitness dates with friends. Sunday mornings at 10 a.m. is set aside to meet my friend Lynn so we can run or walk the trails, returning to the studio to strength train, laugh, commiserate and generally feel better than when we arrived. Leaning into each other for our workouts is supportive, fun and feeds my love for social connectivity with my tribe while sweating. Perfect.

Strategy # 3: I plan holidays that include some form of fitness, or better yet I get carried away and the holiday itself is all about fitness. This was the original inspiration for my U.K. Cornwall Walking Tours, a way to explore the Cornish coast all while getting a whole bunch of exercise. For me, a holiday at home or abroad is in part the luxury of time to restore and rejuvenate. Time off is my perfect vessel in which to build my wellness.

Strategy #4: I treat myself to great gear. I am ambivalent about designer purses or Jimmy Choo shoes, but give me a couple of hours and a credit card at MEC and oh my, I am a happy girl. A decent level of comfort while sweating and working hard is less about luxury and more about leverage to ensure said activity happens regularly.

Strategy #5: I know that something is better than nothing. If my workout time is whittled away by competing schedules and priorities, rather than flipping my hands in the air and surrendering to a horizontal position with crisps and Netflix, I go anyway and squeeze in what I can: 10 minutes on the bike, 10 minutes of core strength and five minutes of stretching. I always feel 100 per cent better even if it is 50 per cent of the planned workout. Now that’s the kind of math I can get used to!

Strategy #6: I carry a mental imprint of how I will feel after a workout as fuel to ensure I follow through. When I look to the couch and my book instead of donning my gear and sneakers, I nudge myself with the knowledge I will feel better once the workout is done: a better version of Mary with rough edges sloughed off and generally a sunnier outlook.

Strategy #7: If all else fails, take a bath! Sometimes none of this works and I default to the flip side of an energy expending workout by climbing into a hot bath with my book, a glass of wine and trust that my body is telling me to take a break and rest! 

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