Saturday, December 19, 2009

Commentary of The Week: Women Supporting Women

I am learning some interesting things about people as I embark on this journey of fitness. We live in a society of obesity, laziness, and overall poor health. Our children are subjected to either false impressions of health and beauty (through airbrushed magazines and stick figure models) or an environment that promotes sloth and gluttony. So as a parent who cares about family values and teaching my children positive life skills, I have had a recent wake-up call.

You see, it appears that when doing something you see as positive not only for yourself, but positive for your children (in that the hope is to set a good example of health for them), not everyone sees these efforts as how they are intended. I have been a woman who has worked hard to have a family. Children did not come easy for my husband and I. We spent years trying to have a family in the traditional way, then more years trying to have a family through medical intervention, and finally had a family through the wonderful world of adoption. My children were wanted, not accidently created, and because of this I do not take them for granted. I enjoy spending quality time with them. I enjoy spending quality time with the man I have been married to for almost 18 years. I make sure that this quality time occurs.

Training for a triathlon takes time and commitment. It takes communication with those around you that love you and support you. It takes sacrifice and adjustments to your schedule. It takes discipline to "get it all in". But it is doable. And caring for, nurturing, and loving your family and friends is doable to, even when training for a triathlon.

Recently I have been questioned by a number of people about the balance in my life and whether or not I am giving to others around me as I should. My answer to that is this: I do not feel it is selfish to take care of one's self. In doing so I not only am promoting my own health but I am showing my children that it is important to value yourself. It is so easy in life to lose your identity, or worse yet, never feel you have one to begin with. How can you share yourself with others in your life if you don't have a true sense of who you are? If you don't value yourself you become a fake, spending your life filling voids with false ideas of things that will "complete" you. It is easy to lose your identity or be taken advantage of by others when you don't have a strong sense of self. So if being selfish means taking care of yourself, then I am guilty of being selfish.

Although one can become healthy without having to embark on intensive, time consuming training, there are life lessons that can be taught to our children from this journey as well. How about teaching the importance of perseverance in the face of seemingly unsurmountable challenges? Teaching the importance of discipline by demonstrating how to become disciplined in life? Showing our children that it is possible to overcome things that scare them? Help them to learn the importance of team work and of encouraging others? To learn the skill of self-motivation and accountability of one's actions?

By participating in intensive training, it does not mean you are running from problems at home. Maybe the training helps to give you the tools you need to face challenges in regular life as they occur. To have quicker reflexes and reactions and to improve your endurance for the pains that life will inevitably produce.  It does not mean that you are neglecting others for your own selfish need for fitness or for time to yourself. On the contrary, I feel that it shows you are willing to sacrifice hours in your life, during which others are usually not even awake, in order to prolong the life you want to share with those around you. You are not shirking responsibility for your children's care onto your spouse's plate, you are learning to communicate with your spouse and share what should be a joint responsibility to begin with.

It is interesting to me that women are the first to try to hold other women back from embracing something other than the traditional woman's role in the home. How many years have we spent as a gender to earn equality and to be able to embrace our ability to be more than just a "housewife"? Why is it "unfair" to the husband if he is asked to help share the care for his own children? It honestly amuses me that instead of gaining support and encouragement from other women, taking time to better oneself becomes an issue and a cause for judgement from other women. I understand that taking exercise to this extreme is not everyone's calling, and I by no means am judging anyone who chooses not to. I respect that there are those who feel that they need to spend all of their time with their children and spouses. I just think that much can be learned from undertaking this kind of endeavor, and it shouldn't be a source of concern for others that may not understand it.

Having had to face some concerns from people around me this week has given me pause for thought. It has also planted some seeds of doubt in areas of my life that up until now I felt secure in. It is never a bad idea to make sure everyone is on the same path and that you are not going off of the deep end. But after reconfirming with my family that everyone is indeed in support of my endeavors, I feel badly for having a lapse in the faith of the support that I knew was already there. There are areas in my life that I need to make sure are not affected by my choices and my training. I need to remain focused at work, and keep my job separate from my personal life and my training. I need to make sure that my children are getting their spiritual needs met. I need to make sure that my husband remains my best friend, and that my children know that although I may be away at times, if they need me, they come first.

Taking care of yourself and of those around you requires a lot of juggling. I think we, especially as women, need to learn to encourage each other to be able to do all of the things in life that bring us joy and happiness. I value my friends, my family, and my career. But unless I value myself, all of the rest will suffer.

1 comment:

  1. BRAVO! Real women are multidimensional not just mothers and lovers. I am never surprised that there are some who would seek to keep you somewhat 'flat'. Stay the course. You are a witness to your family and others that Self is a priority regardless of how you choose to support that Self. For me personally I wish I had discovered triathlons about 15 years ago. A few more endorphins would have been a good thing.