Shared Caregiving Stories

Working out

Why I go to the gym

Guest Blog, Jeannette D. Mayer For as long as I can remember, my husband and daughter have given me a hard time about getting up at 5 a.m. to go to the gym. Over the years it hasn't been easy overcoming the negativity that comes from them about my early morning self-care. As our daughter has gotten older she has grown to understand how hurtful her words are, and the reasons why I actually need to go to the gym. She now encourages and supports my early morning self-care with playful banter. As for my husband, it is still a challenge. For me, going to the gym early in the morning is peaceful because DeWayne, my veteran, my wounded hero, is asleep at home. This means this is my time where I don't have to worry about him. He is tucked safely into bed, and knowing that he is safe, gives me this needed security to leave the house for a couple hours. Most mornings the gym is quiet. I seem to be the only crazy one getting up this early. My mind and soul thrives on the short time alone. For me, alone time is regenerating. My brain can think. I can work through issues, cry, laugh, consider what challenges are happening and possible ways to face them. Plus, I don't really enjoy working out in front of other people. It is a small gym and I have my routine set. Truthfully -- other people coming in the gym early tend to disrupt my harmonious rhythm. (Okay, that really sounds selfish, I know). But in my defense, as a caregiver there are many days it is a high-demanding "giving" job. My husband requires so much attention that in the mornings it is nice to have this space to myself, and to just be "me" while working out. The addiction of working out feels amazing. It helps my energy levels build and my depression levels lower. I feel mentally terrible when I don't get to go to the gym or when a workout is cut short. I also joke that is this is also how I take out my sexual frustrations. It has been many years since this has taken place in our bedroom. Yes, my husband has seen a urologist at the VA Medical Center, and outside of the VA as well. After a multitude of exams and testing and many aids they both came to the same conclusion - nothing more can be done. It appears this section of our marriage has come to an end. At our young age, alternative releases are needed, and working out is great for that. I’m sorry but cuddling and hand holding only go so far. Working out helps a lot! My advice: if you are a caregiver - find what works for you. Find a way to ignore the naysayers, even the ones within your own home. Create a routine that is meaningful and passionate for yourself. Only you can find what works for you. For those who wish to support a caregiver: please, don’t lecture a caregiver on their method of self-care. They know all too well they need to take care of themselves. What they need is someone backing them up. Be there with encouraging words, be there physically if they need someone to help watch their children or hang out with their veteran. Some people find regeneration through surrounding themselves with people. Be that person who goes and does with the caregiver. The best support is the support with actions. We are a Military Family who is American Made! We Reach Higher, Dream Brighter, and Hold on Tighter.

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