You take care of your loved ones. You’re a mother. Perhaps too a caregiver, a driver who drives your kids around to sports and maybe you teach — life, maths, science, manners. Maybe you’re a full-time babysitter or someone who takes care of their older or disabled relatives. You’re every kind of taking care of other people there is in this world.
But… Who’s taking care of you?
As part of Pretty Awesome Fitness celebrations for International Women’s Day that just happened last weekend, I would have to dedicate this post to all the women out there. Independent or not, there’s always a reason to celebrate us, right? Sorry, boys!
Now, now. Did you get a chance to thank, acknowledge and recognise a significant lady in your life? I hope you did because they will appreciate it for sure.
As for myself, I did reach out to Madam Eishah, who has been my best friend, carer and most importantly mother for the past 25 years. Every time I look at her, I am still amazed by how much she has sacrificed to see me and my siblings grow up, excel and achieve everything we want in life.
As one of her four children, I feel we don’t do enough to thank her blood, sweat and tears in raising us up. I am not a mother yet but my heart goes out to all the mothers out there. You all deserve every single great things in life.
Woman, all you woman out there, you guys are an amazing bunch of people. And this is for you.
Women: 59-75% of all the tireless caregivers
In a paper presented at the 2002 annual meeting of the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry, Florida, 75% of all tireless caregivers are women. This number is valued at up to $188 billion US dollars a year.
In a study of American demographics, 10.1 million women above 55 is still working. I live in Sydney and my mum who is pushing 60 in June this year is still actively working 40 hours or more.
When it comes to a new child in the family, women are expected to be the one reducing work hours, passing up a job promotion or an opportunity, take leave of absence (the ever so famous mat leave) and up to 16% of women even quit their jobs to become full-time carers.
While dads and husbands are generally more helpful this days in helping around in the household, women are still spending more time with their children compared to dads.
When I speak to clients who are new mothers, including my sister in law who has just delivered my second niece six months ago (picture above!), most of them are happy to be spending time with their children, but doing additional things like even taking a shower or going out for brunch is a hassle.
Putting that into our fitness perspective, no one really wants to go to the gym while caring for their newborns full time.
Cooking, housework, fetching kids off to soccer, dinners and careers takes up a great deal of time. But for these women, a significant amount of time goes to planning, giving attention and thinking about the actual housework and responsibilities.
More often than not, this leaves women caregivers no time to even reflect upon their health because they’re so busy reflecting upon their relationships and responsibilities.
If you’re thinking I’m being biased towards women myself, I’m not. Men do have their own set of sacrifices — within the lines of working and delaying retirement in order to provide for the family and lessen the financial burden in caregiving.
All I’m saying is that in the grand scheme of time consuming responsibilities, women sacrifice time which is in my opinion, worth so much more than money itself, to make sure things are in order in the house.
While this type of caregiving cost time and money, there is one more thing that these women have to take care of: their attention and self-care for their own needs.
It is not surprising that because these women are already sacrificing a lot in their careers and social life to take care of their responsibilities, time spent on exercise and health is one of the first things to give.
Depression and anxiety problems
Let’s take a look at this…
A four-year study in the Journal of Public Health has shown that middle aged and older women who has caregiving responsibilities are six times more likely to suffer depressive and anxiety symptoms. While the impact goes beyond just depression, other studies has shown that caregivers has a greater decline in unhappiness. Researchers has also found that more than one-third of caregiving women suffer from poor health themselves.
Another scary but hard to avoid fact? Caregiving has been shown to increase levels of stress in women, which we know well and truly that high amounts of the stress hormones in the body can lead to weight gain, obesity and other cardiovascular related diseases.
While women feels extremely proud and satisfied by the fact that they can take care of their kids, family and careers, utter exhaustion and higher levels of stress is extremely common among them.
While they’re busy taking care of other people, their own self-care suffers. Exercise and eating well is very much forgotten and their health deteriotes while they typically complain of a lack of strength and pain in common areas such as the back and the knees.
The good news is, it does not have to be this way. You don’t have to sacrifice your own self-care when you’re busy caring for others. You don’t have to entirely skip eating well, or even put your heart at risk just because you’re caring for others.
I’ve gathered four very important lessons you can take in with you in the realm of self-care and this could make all the difference to you.
1. Remember this: you are not alone.
The reason why I stated all the facts above, accompanied with high quality research studies is because I want you to know that you are not alone.
As ugly as those numbers may sound, there are other women out there who are going through the exact same phase as you, even though the situation may not be exactly the same. For every you who’s busy taking care of other people, 7 other people is going through the same thing.
And I want you to know that because, of all my 40 clients whom I’m training today and in the past, 60% of them are women, and at least 80% of them are primary caregivers — both mothers and daughters. And they share the exact same sentiments and problems as I’ve stated above.
Feeling hopeless, and exhausted is way more common than you think it is. And so many other women feels embarrassed, lonely and unfair, just like you do.
2. You have to take care of yourself first before caring for others.
Put on your safety mask first before assisting others.
Indeed, the only way we can take care of others is if we take care of ourselves first. While it is usually not a choice for us to take care of other people, especially if we don’t see that baby coming, try to make you a priority.
I know, we are all taught to help others who are in need when we were younger. But think about it, we cannot put the needs of others ahead of ours all the time. It’s exhausting. And like I said, it does not have to be that way all the time.
It shouldn’t be that way.
It’s definitely not selfish for you to take some time off for yourself, even if it means only 45 minutes a day for that walk or a strength session pumping out your best 1 repetition maximum.
It is definitely not selfish for you to take 60 minutes off on Sunday to prepare meals for the week ahead for yourself.
It is only until you get that right mindset that you should have the right to put your needs first, can you start seeing changes and results for good.
3. Ask for help, and be alright with it.
A few weeks ago, a client came up to me complaining about a pain in his back. As a Certified Exercise Specialist in training, I probably think I am good enough to help him with his back — theoretically. But I know that I might not get the practical side of things right. As such, I seek help from one of my colleague who is a qualified Kinesiologist to help me with the problem.
Had I done it myself, I probably wouldn’t give my client the best possible treatment for it. Yes, I’m great in helping clients lose weight. I’m great in the nutrition side of things but dealing with chronic joint related pain is out of my league.
It is the same when it comes to you.
See, the thing is, the people who cares for others the most are usually the people who hesitates asking for help. Why? Because they know how it feels to be the person giving help.
But, this attitude can be detrimental to the carer’s health, which explains the whole yo-yo dieting in fitness and nutrition. And more often than not, it doesn’t occur to them that asking for help can lessen the burden they’re facing.
You might think that you can do it alone, and that you are strong enough to do it, but think about this.
If you could have done it, you would have do it.
Asking for help does not make you less stronger. Asking for help does not make you any less capable.
You don’t have to be perfect. No one is.
4. Seek for people who cares for you as much as you care for your loved ones.
Looking for the right person to ask for help may not be easy, especially if this is your first time working with a health and wellness professional. Which nutritionist should I go too? What is the difference in a physiotherapist and a physical therapist?
These are fundamental questions, and you will have lots of it, but my advice is this — try, and keep trying, to look for someone who puts your health and fitness first, just like you put the happiness first in caring for your family and loved ones.
Of course, I’m not telling you to just seek for help from any Tom, Dick or Harry, no matter how good looking they may be. Validate their qualifications and give them a try. Speak to them and make sure they’re in the right zone as you.
In the case of looking for a Personal Trainer, look for someone whom you feel comfortable with, not someone who uses unconventional techniques and undesirable methods to get you unrealistic results just to make them and their business look good.
Let me take care of you
On Monday, 24th of March 2014, I am launching my Pretty Awesome Coaching program. I have worked day and night to see this through and I am happy to announce that I am ready, to step in and take care of you.
As much as this is a premium fitness, nutrition and habit-building coaching all in one, my main goal is to take care of a select group of clients just like they take care of their loved ones. One reason why I love my job as a Personal Trainer is because of the customer service aspect of things — it goes back all the way to my days as a Barista in Starbucks.
It’s not about giving you more information than you already know. It’s not about screaming at you or telling you to do things like eating more salads or cutting down on processed foods. It’s about understanding that you need help, that YOU need care and that YOU need support, just like you do for all the others that you care.
So let me help you. All you have to do is to click on the button below to schedule a free 30-min Skype consultation and health assessment. I’m opening pre-launch spots for my dear readers, way ahead from everyone else.
Once you click on the button below, you will be redirected to my application form where you have to answer some questions. Once you’re done with the form, press submit and you can see my live schedule. I’m taking appointments from next Monday onwards and there are lots of times available.
Since I mentioned this on my post last Thursday, four people have made the move to apply for my call.
Ask yourself, what are you waiting for? Don’t be afraid to ask for help, because I am ready to put YOU first, for you have been putting others first for so many years of your life.
Ask me, keep the discussion going
Even if you’re not applying for my call, tell me one woman in your life who have been a significant person in your life. What did she help you with? How much has she done for you or for the others she cares for? You can answer this in the comments section below.
I hope you had an amazing weekend celebrated with the people that matters to you. To all the women out there, no matter who you are, what you do and where you’re from, Happy International Womens Day.
Keep going, no matter what your fitness goals are. I got your back. :)
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