The last couple of weeks we’ve talked about food prep, keeping nutrition on track, and specifically, how to do that while keeping up all of the things that we have going on in this life. When you add in being a mother, well...it’s pretty easy to see how a workout for ourselves is something that we “can’t” fit in. But you can't keep taking care of everyone and everything else if you're empty or feeling used up. You are worth taking care of too, you know.
When I first got divorced, my kids were very little (one and three years old). They both had a ton of developmental problems that required several therapies a week. I had been staying at home with them, and had not much work experience as well as only a high school education. I was working full time serving, going to school full time, and mowing about 70 lawns a week with my three-year-old running around and my one year old strapped to my back. My one year old also ended up strapped to my back, or tied to my ankle with a jump rope, during several of our boxing practices as he had (and still has) an insatiable curiosity for life. I don’t know exactly how I made it through this period, but I know that I wouldn’t have without boxing. I know my kids would have hated me as a human being, and that I would have given up. I’m not being dramatic, I would have given up.
The thing is, I’m probably telling a lot of your stories. Maybe you’re not a single mother—maybe you’re the breadwinner and somehow still end up with all the responsibilities of the children and home. Maybe you don’t have kids, but maybe you’re struggling your way through a marriage with problems (even an abusive marriage like mine was) and trying to hold it together during your high stress job. Women have some unique issues that they bring into the boxing balance. However, I’ve found, that for as difficult as boxing can be for women to balance, it can be exactly that healing as well.
What are some of the things that made boxing six days a week, keeping up with my outside runs, conditioning, and food prep possibly the answer to such an insanely busy and stressful life?
My boxing family loved on us when we were there and long afterwards. No, not everyone was happy I was there—most days I’d say not the majority as the one serious female in there. However, we have found incredibly deep-rooted love and friendships from those teammates who saw me as a boxer, not as a “female”, and were willing to throw down with me just the same. And these are the ones before we started Lions Den where I’ve found incredible relationships with other women in this completely unique environment. To give some long-term perspective: friendships with men that have had me over and cooked for mother's day because as a single mom of little kids, he knew that wasn't happening alone. Friendships with men that have supported my boxing by coming over for pads, sparring, drilling at 8 or 9 pm after they've already finished their's because they believe in me and knew I was alone at the time. Friendships with men who have gone to weddings, birthdays (to sip tea because my daughter wanted a team party), and my biggest birthday parties. Friendships with men have become “Uncle Justin”. Uncle Justin has taken my son to get his hair cut because I felt he really needed some good, male bonding, and that this wasn’t an activity to go to with his mom, but as a bonding experience that he needed with a father/uncle figure. He’s helped me get my kids on the bus for a few months while I started a new job and couldn’t afford both before and after care. He comes over and just hangs out with us—the kind of loving, hang outs that create an actual relationship, sense of trust, where you know my kids likes and dislikes, and know the exact sentence that will set each of us off. While he’s one example, I could give you four other men that have truly loved on us and invested in us as a family, and we’re family to them too when they need love, a hot meal, a place to stay a week or two, whatever they need. I have not been remarried, and I don’t really date to even have that be possible. These men have been male role models, male perspectives, and male voices in our home when I literally can’t be that to my kids. My kids need that. My boxing family provide that.
My emotions were out of this world and boxing leveled them in my most crisis moments. I was going from crying to anger to not eating or sleeping to eating too much with how stressed out and exhausted I was: not from the non-stopness of the work I needed to get done, but because of the non-stop worry, fear, and anxiety of how we were ever going to make it. Every evening, no matter what happened during the day, I picked up my rope, focused my mind, and became a boxer: nothing else. It was my “get right”, my center, the rest of me. I got to be the rest of me.
It was a physical manifestation of how strong I already was in the whole rest of my life. Sure, looking back, telling even a tiny bit of our story, people often say “wow…how did you do it all??” but what it looked like right then (to myself and everyone around me) was an insanely hot mess that I was horribly failing at. When I went into practice each day it wasn’t that I wasn’t failing (there were plenty of days I was failing), but I was progressing. It was a tangible thing I could see, feel, move forward on, or even just feel that feeling of a face under my glove (it sounds harsh, but you know it feels different and more satisfying!) that showed I was the beast I knew deep down I really was. And some days, it was what told me I was that beast when I had not believed it even the tiniest bit when first walking into the gym that night.
It gave me the physical strength and health that I needed to be able to push it and keep hustling through my jobs and being a parent. Let me tell you, using a push-mower with a baby on your back from sun up until you ran home to shower and go waitress until 1 in the morning and then go home and clean and get things prepped for the next day or do invoicing for the mowing or homework or whatever else is no easy physical feat. Getting through practice at the most prestigious gym in our state at the time was the EASIEST physical part of my day a lot of times. It literally gave me the strength to make it through the next day.
Okay, so what does this list have to do with keeping up with your workouts? Most importantly, it reminds you why you’re doing them in the first place. We will talk about more practical ways to keep up with them each week next post. But here’s the most important part of it before any practical application aspects: Do you honestly believe you’re worth investing this time and effort into?
We have a quote in our gym, and it’s on my wall as you walk out to the gym too because it is so important to me: “If all you can do is crawl, then start crawling. You’re worth it.” (by the way, that comes from an AMAZING book called Run Like A Girl). Some days, even weeks, no matter how hard you tried you couldn’t convince me I wasn’t the baddest bitch in the world and of course I was worth this little time out of the day to improve on my baddest bitch status. I get completely healthy in boxing, it’s a one stop shop to a successful life: community, accountability, self-improvement, mental health, empowerment, physical health! Why wouldn’t I go in for a couple of hours and go keep that up? Except that other days, even weeks or months, I need an hourly reminder to not self-destruct myself right into the worthless pile I feel like I am. And my consistency and intensities of my workouts directly correspond to which of those I’m feeling. You’re always going to be too busy. But are you worth it?