This post is dedicated to YOU DO YOU! No one else can tell you what is right for you, what will work for you, what fits your life, your needs, and your wants.
I often get asked by friends, moms, women in the community, and patients “Dr. Casey, how do you balance everything?” “How do you find time to exercise/eat healthy/sleep/etc?” The truth is that it took me many years to find that balance. And I allow myself the flexibility of altering my routine as my life and surroundings change. Our schedules are different now that our daughters are 10, 7, and 4 compared to when we just had our first daughter, and she was a toddler. My work schedule is different now that it was 2 years ago. My exercise routine has evolved tremendously over the past 25 years. I’ve learned to let go of certain things and to take charge of the activities that I enjoy the most and from which I obtain the most fulfillment.
Those of you reading this know that my passion and career is focused on SKIN HEALTH, but our skin is truly the reflection of who we are on the inside. Our skin shows stress, lack of sleep, fatigue, poor nutrition, sadness, and low energy. Likewise, our skin radiates good nutrition, proper sleep, low stress levels, positive energy, purpose, passion.
So the appearance of our skin is tightly linked to our inner BALANCE. Having a consistent and structured exercise routine that WORKS FOR YOU is essential in obtaining this balance. If exercising twice a week is what fits well with your schedule, allows you to really take in and enjoy that workout, and challenge your body…well that’s wonderful! Don’t pressure yourself to do more just because your friends are if it’s going to make your body fatigued and stress you in other areas of your life. For most of my teens and twenties (and early thirties), I made myself work out almost every single day. Mostly cardio. At a moderate pace. And guess where that got me…NOWHERE! I weighed more than I do now, I was more tired (even before children and demanding career), I felt extremely guilty if I missed a workout, and I was in much worse shape than I am now, in my forties! What works for my schedule, our family, and work/life balance now is getting a really great quality workout 3-4 days a week. For me, this is an Orange Theory workout, a 30 or 60-minute session with one of my trainers, or a circuit/HIIT (high intensity interval training) session on my own. I personally prefer the motivation of working out with a group in a class-type setting, or with a trainer that is going to push me a bit beyond what I would do on my own. And because I allow my body to recover between sessions, I am really able to enjoy and put my all into those workouts. Maybe Yoga is what challenges and balances you. Maybe a brisk walk on your own or with friends. Perhaps hiking. Exercise should invigorate and recharge you, not be a drain on your energy.
Give yourself PERMISSION to ADAPT to the changes in your life. When you have a big project at work, are traveling, or need to take care of friends or family, you are not going to have as much time for exercise. I have finally been able to let go of my more structured exercise regimen when we are on family vacations. This took me many years. We are usually very active on our family vacations, running around with our daughters, exploring new towns or landscapes, but I always had this sense of guilt because we were eating out more than normal, and I was not exercising like I typically do. But I never gained weight on these trips. I was active in a different way that was more “keep moving and keep up with the kids” and less “exercise class/training session.” What was remarkable though was the sense of calm that I began to feel in the mornings of those vacations because I let go of the obligation of feeling like I needed to exercise that day.
I’ve talked about how important exercise is for our skin health: it increases blood flow, flushes out toxins and free radicals, helps our skin cells function more optimally, and helps regulate our hormone levels. But how much does exercise help our skin, if we are depriving ourselves of the sleep that our body desperately craves, so that we can get in another workout? What is the impact of the added stress of fitting in a workout, when we really don’t have the time, on the inflammation throughout our body and thereby within our skin? What about when we exercise to balance out the sugary treats that we’ve had during the week? If your motivation for exercising is purely to get away with eating a donut every day, then you are running around in circles (no pun intended) with much more harm to your skin health than benefit from the exercise.
My skin reflects the balance of my routine. It may not be the right routine for you, but it is what works for me, right now. And that routine will change in 3 years. Listen to your body, rest, challenge, focus, eat well…and observe your skin. How does your skin radiance change as you become more in tune with the needs of your body, in a comprehensive and holistic way?