25-Jul-2014 / / Community
When is the last time you put yourself and your needs first? Achieving balance in one’s life just doesn’t happen. Tina, a working mom of two and marathon runner, shares her story of how prioritizing her needs helped her not only lead a healthy life, but also become a more centered and energetic parent.
My self-realization: I was not a priority
Carrying and giving birth to a helpless human being has been done since the beginning of humans, and I am not special for having done it. But for everyone who has experienced this wonderful, stressful, life-changing event, you know that weird things happen to you.
The way you think, the way you look, your sleep pattern, and your priorities all take a shift that points directly to this little person who depends on you to get it together. In essence, you lose control and surrender it to the beautiful necessities that come with parenthood. Even though my husband was (and is) amazing, I was drowning.
It may seem counterintuitive, but this was the perfect time to start training for a marathon. I had stopped thinking about my needs, and I yearned for balance. I needed time alone - to move, to feel my own heartbeat and breath, and to find my own personal strength. I needed to make me a priority.
Managing my “me” time
As a new mom, every aspect of my day was so deliberate. I realized that I had to manage my “me” time in the same way. Over the next six months, I scheduled days to train. Just in the same way we planned feedings and doctor’s appointments together, we worked on the things that were important to each of us to stay centered. My husband knew when I planned to run, and he helped me stick to it. In fact, I had my entire six months planned before I even took the first step.
Some days I hated it, but I never quit. I am a mom after all. I stuck with the plan (for the most part). I didn’t beat myself up if I missed a day, or didn’t run as fast or as long. I felt better than ever, and the details of training didn’t matter.
What I learned
It took me almost five hours to finish the New York City Marathon that year. It was hard, but when I finished I was forever changed.
I learned how to make my physical and emotional health a priority. With a small baby who was so vulnerable, it was difficult at first not to feel guilty for leaving the house to simply tend to my own needs. I quickly learned that I felt so much better about myself and what I was giving my family if I took time to recharge and work towards a personal goal.
I learned that I will always be a better parent if I take time for myself. I know now that I will always be a more centered and energetic parent if I take time for myself. I think of myself now as a vessel that needs to be filled with positivity and energy. If I fill myself up, I have so much more to share with those who depend on me.
I learned that planning is key. To be successful in any workout regimen, you need a plan. Being a parent makes this a little more challenging, but having a supportive partner, friends and family that can help you out for an hour a day can make all the difference.
Running has become part of my identity. It’s more than what I do – it’s who I am. You don’t need to run 26.2 miles to achieve balance in your life. Anything can be your “marathon.” You just have to find your passion and make it yours.
Tina Emerson is a wife, a mom of two, a law firm marketing pro, and a runner. When she isn’t doing any of those things, well, she’s sleeping.
Photo by Arya Ziai photo resized.