Healthy Mind, Healthy Body

A sound diet and exercise program are important, but your mind also plays a part in your health. Use these tips to de–stress and revitalize for a healthier you

February 6, 2013
Healthy Mind, Healthy Body

Being a fit mom takes endurance, energy and stamina. Kids are balls of energy that seem to be at full throttle all the time, and keeping up can sometimes be a challenge. Add that to your busy daily to-do lists and fitness, and you’re likely drained by the end of the day. There are ways to help give your energy levels a boost and stress hormones the boot, however. Yoga, massage, mediation and visualization are some of the first things that come to mind; they are great mind-body therapies not just for healthy gals, but also for athletes and us moms. According to stats published in the Yoga Journal (2012), 27 billion dollars is spent on yoga products each year. About 15 million people are now participating in some sort of yoga within the United States alone, and about 72% are women.

Since weaving these amazing practices into my life over fifteen years ago, I’ve successfully been able to transform my life and my body. Our bodies are the vehicles that get us to where we need to go each day, and if we don’t take the time to cool down our engine, so to speak, it will eventually lock up. Mind-body practices act as cooling agents, and can prevent you from breaking down with things like adrenal fatigue, overtraining and excessive cortisol release.

Incorporating these relaxation techniques into your fit lifestyle a few times per week can help stave-off the dreaded busy mom burnout. In fact, they can help you better cope, focus, and achieve your goals faster. Though it seem that adding more to your schedule would elicit the opposite, you’d be surprised just how powerful doing so can be. Let me explain why.

Yoga helps to create better symmetry in the body, it’s great for spinal health, and encourages balance of the mind. Meditation will help you concentrate and clear your mind of distractions. It also helps shift your perspective by encouraging a “wider” view of life, so to speak, and being less attached to outcomes. For example, when I first started sitting in the famous lotus pose for meditation, even for just five minutes, it was painful but I learned a lot about myself. I realized that I had a lot of chatter going on in my mind, too long a to-do list, and a significant amount of physical tension in my body, even in my ankles! I felt like I wanted to jump out of my own skin. But it taught me a lot about how I was operating on a daily basis—which was always in survival mode. In time, practicing meditation and yoga became therapeutic, and I craved those moments of stillness like nothing else.

Because of my experience, I decided to become a yoga teacher. I taught yoga full-time, instructing 25 classes or more per week. Eventually, however, I found just doing yoga alone burned me out. That’s when I started to get involved in weight training, and I loved it so much it lead to competing. I found the two really complimented one another well. In fact, the yoga taught me how to better isolate my muscles during workouts and while onstage posing.

I also now use massage as a way to survive grueling workouts and recover faster. Breaking up lactic acid is a way to prevent injury and ensure you can get full range of motion. In 1998, I became the owner of Massage & Spa Express, LLC. I worked with a lot of pro-level athletes; many of them played sports like basketball and seem to suffer from various overtraining injuries. Between the massages and stretching, they were able to find great relief and could once again focus on pushing themselves in their training. Many teams actually have their own massage therapists and trainers who work on them in between games. And while this may not seem relevant to you as a mom, it actually is.

Your job as a mom is not just to master the art of juggling a household 24/7; it’s also to be healthy, functional, fully present and relaxed. To do so, you have to learn how to tap into your energy reserves and keep your mind clear. Part of this involves being able to better work through stresses and tension, rather than ignore these things in hopes that they’ll go away. They wont’!

Begin now to cultivate mind-soothing rituals such as home meditation, or consider signing up for a yoga class or massage. There are plenty of books and videos to help give you support right in your very own living room. To help you relax, you can also give yourself a mini spa-like treatment right at home (probably best at night when your kids are sleeping!). Fill a bath with Epsom salt, drop in some of your favorite calming aromatherapy oils, and focusing on deep breathing while you lay there to help you relax.

There is no point in running yourself ragged, because there really is no end zone when it comes to kids… not even when they go off to college! So learn how to take some downtime now—your body and mind will thank you for it.

Michelle Johnson