Your body moves through time. It is with you all the time. And if you consistently hate the way you spend your time, your body may be left behind.
Therefore, let’s tackle our routines and figure out if we can create space in our days for helpful habits. Body image does not exist in a vacuum. It is part of a lived life.
In one sense, a life is a collection of days, and days are a collection of hours. Our bodies are vehicles that get us through and interact with these collections. Often, the first step to a better body image is figuring out how to eke out better day to day living.
Describe your ideal day, hour by hour. This is not an extravagant vacation to Italy day. This is a realistic, but better than reality, day. Let’s call it an “ideal realistic day.”
Plan your ideal realistic day anywhere you like (word, email, pen and paper, etc.).
Look over your ideal day and try to find a way to make one small part of it come true.
Or, if one small part is already true sometimes, figure out how to make it true most of the time.
Then, on an index card or in a note on your phone, finish this sentence:
I will improve my days by….
For example, when I did this exercise, I had two preschoolers and an infant. I didn’t live near family, and my husband worked long hours, often leaving for days and weeks at a time. I felt completely overwhelmed by all the attention the kids needed. Unsurprisingly, my ideal day included time to myself. In real life, I could sometimes convince my husband to give me an hour, and I often had my baby’s nap time to myself, but those times weren’t guaranteed. Plus, I felt compelled to shove all household chores into nap time.
In my ideal day, I had hours of dedicated non-chore alone time in which I could work out, write, and pursue my own interests.
At that time, I felt I couldn’t justify the expense of a babysitter if I wasn’t bringing in much money, but writing down my “ideal realistic day” made me realize how much I fantasized about alone time.
Alone time de-stresses me, which helps me make better choices and makes me feel better about myself (including my body). Suddenly a babysitter seemed less like a luxury and more like an essential part of my self-care.
Therefore, I wrote…
I will improve my days by finding a babysitter to watch O for two hours while the other two are at preschool.
I wasn’t able to get a sitter every day, but writing down my ideal day helped me broach the topic with my husband, and we agreed to create a budget for day time babysitting. Therefore, as a result of this one exercise, I got a couple hours to myself at least a couple days a week (and, thus, was able to start this blog). That was a major mental health success and was crucial to combating lingering baby blues.
Clearly, not every mom can hire a babysitter during the day. If you work full time, you can’t disappear for a few hours. Nonetheless, the point of this exercise is to find out what matters in YOUR ideal day. And then to find a SMALL way to make that happen. Even small changes can improve our mindsets (like turning a coffee break into a 15 minute walk instead).
Also, keep in mind that your ideal day might not only include things for which you have no time; it might also include things you want to do but have stopped doing out of fear or self-consciousness. For example, maybe you like to swim or do Zumba, but have stopped going because you think everyone is staring at your body. When you make your index card, let the part of you that wants to participate overrule the part of you that is stuck at home.
I realize planning an ideal day seems unrelated to body image. However, I’ve discovered that my daily choices on how to use and view my body depend a lot on how the day to day grind of motherhood plays out. Our bodies aren’t disconnected from our lives. Sometimes we need to take stock of how we use our days.
The more we like our days, the more we like our lives, and the more we like our lives, the more likely we are to buoy our BODIES and minds.
I always love reading about other women’s ideal days, so feel free to email me your day.
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