Blog #3 Is Your Female Guilt- Gene Controlling Your Life?

Is Your Female Guilt-gene Controlling Your Life?
Writer; Danielle Appi
Published; Oxygen Magazine

I just want to take a moment to thank Eve.
While Adam was lining up for his share in the 7 Deadly Sins queue (and I think he took more than his fair share), I’m pretty sure Eve was helping herself to 95% of the available guilt on offer.
Thank you great, great, great, etc., Grandmother Eve.
Thank you for handing down that oversupply of guilt to every single one of your Daughters from the beginning of time til now.

Who is familiar with this scenario?

Him: “I’m heading out for a drink with the boys, see you later”……and off he goes.
Her: “I’m heading out for dinner with the girls. Now, the kids and your dinner is in the oven. The instructions are written on the bench top for when to turn it off. Please feed the kids no later than 6.30 as they need to be in the bath and ready for bed by 7.30 at the latest. Yes, that’s the time we always do it. Make sure that Sally has done her homework as it is due tomorrow and don’t forget to feed the dog or he’ll keep us up all night scratching at the door. Jimmy needs to take a plate of food for a school party tomorrow, I’ve cooked some muffins and they are cooling on the rack. Can you please remember to put them into the fridge before you go to bed or the dog will have devoured them before midnight? Please make sure the kids clean their teeth and don’t forget that the Tooth Fairy needs to come to Sally tonight. The money is on your bedside table with a note to remind you to do this before you go to bed. Ok, call me if there are any problems, I’ll see you later”…..and off she goes.

Do you know what is happening here?

Our Female-guilt gene is in overdrive.
Women since the dawn of time have had to live with a deep-set and often irrational sense of guilt anytime we decide to do something for ourselves. Alone. Solo. No one else.

Why is this?

Why is it that if we want to take an hour to work out, relax, sleep, read a book we have to deal with this gnawing guilt that sits in the back of our head chattering away until the noise gets so loud that we abandon our alone-time and just get back to being all-things-to-everyone.
Blame Eve.

I interact daily with women in my job who constantly struggle with the guilt that they associate with taking any time for themselves to work ON themselves.
Forget exercising daily! These women can’t even commit to 1-2 times a week because of the guilt that they feel at not using their time for more important things like kids, Husband, work, housework, cooking, and the list goes on.

But I ask you, what could possibly be more important than taking care of your health? After all, how will you look after and care for your family if you lose your health?
As a Mother don’t we want the strength and fitness to react quickly in a dangerous situation to protect our children?

As a partner don’t we want to improve our health to prevent disease in order to be around for as long as we can with the ones we love?

As a woman don’t we want to give our families and friends the happiest and healthiest version of ourselves so that they enjoy spending time with us?

And do you know what is even worse than this self-imposed guilt?

The guilt that is created by the judgements of our Sisters. The people who should support and encourage you to be your best and healthiest. Other women who have the Victorian attitude that women, particularly Mothers, must forgo their own lives and identities in order to fulfil their duties as a Wife and Mother. That for some reason see time spent in the pursuit of health and fitness as selfish and self-absorbed.

Now, I don’t care if you are a Wife, Mother, Girlfriend, Daughter or Eve. I believe you have the same birth right as every other human being to be the best, healthiest, happiest, fittest and most amazing person that you can be. No one should make you feel bad or guilty about pursuing these rights. Particularly not another woman!

I’ll admit that I was also born with this very strong sense of guilt and over the years it has certainly been a roadblock to my own exercise efforts.
But with age comes wisdom (and saggy boobs) and I have learned since becoming a Mother that there are a few tactics that you can employ to minimise this sense of guilt. And to get the daily (yes daily) exercise that you have a right to enjoy.

1. Schedule your workouts at times when you know that no one else will be inconvenienced! Sounds simple I know. Now for me that means silly-o’clock early morning workouts. I schedule my “Me-time” at 5-6.30am every single morning, Monday to Friday. I know confidently that at this time of the day I can leave the house and concentrate 100% on me without any distractions or feelings of ‘guilt’ that I should be doing something else. Let’s be honest, if I was at home I would be in bed, not doing something else!
Not willing to get up at 5am in the morning? Then it’s not that important to you. As with all things in life you have to work out what your priority is and what you’re prepared to trade off in order to get it. For me health and fitness is right near the top of my list and therefore I’m willing to trade off morning sleep-ins and late nights. I’m not saying this is right, I’m saying its’ right for me.

2. Schedule your workout during your lunch hour. If you work, take your sandwich or salad and go for a 20 min walk. Sit and eat your lunch peacefully and then enjoy the 20 min walk back to work. Or jump into a nearby gym for a quick 30 min HIIT session that will elevate your metabolism for the rest of the day and have you less likely to reach for the office biscuits later in the day. If you are a stay at home Mum and the kids are at school, no excuses! Get outside or get to the gym for an hour. The washing, ironing, cooking, cleaning will still be there when you get home but you will probably enjoy the benefits of more energy to tackle it when you get home.

3. If you’re a Mum with young children, pop them in a pram and go for a daily walk. Daily! I can’t tell you how much this saved my sanity as a new Mother. The endorphins released from a brisk walk in the fresh air can make coping with tears, tantrums and whinging so much more bearable. Alternatively, join a gym with a great crèche and USE it! My girls loved their daily trips to the gym crèche once we got into a routine. If you are going regularly they develop a great bond with the crèche staff and they’ll learn early how to interact with other kids.

4. Once the children head to kindy or school, schedule your workouts for straight after drop off or right before pick up. I found that this was a great strategy to combat guilt as I wasn’t going home and then back out again away from the ‘things I should have been doing’. I found that if I went home after school drop off the feelings of needing to stay home and get things done overwhelmed me and home I stayed.

5. Incorporate your exercise into family time. I been enjoying the daily habit of a walk with my Daughters when I return home at 6.30am. This routine has been working brilliantly as it gets them up, out of bed and dressed early. It gives them a healthy start to the day so that their minds are switched on when they arrive at school. It gives us quality time to talk about anything without the distractions of technology that surround us at home. And we no longer have the morning shouting match and rush to get them out the door and to school on time. Think of ways to get the family moving and enjoy the family-time. Even if it’s not technically you-time, it is time out without guilt.

6. Finally, and probably most importantly, form a friendship group that supports, motivates and encourages you to be your very best. Find people with like-priorities and goals and schedule time with them. I have been running Boot camps for a few years now and the friendships that have formed amongst the women in my groups are amazing. These women came together initially because they had decided put their health and fitness higher up their priority list. Now, they not only show up each session for the work out, but also for the friendship, and support that they get from their Fitness Sisters. No one is made to feel guilty for being there. No one judges another for their choice to be working out instead of doing housework. Everyone is accepted and cheered for their effort and commitment. This type of support group is invaluable if you are someone who suffers from the guilt-factor.

So my Sisters, there are many things we can thank Eve for, unfortunately the guilt-gene is not one of them.
But, we all have it in us to be stronger than our Sisters past. To stand up and take back our identities. To fight for our right to be the best, brightest, most sensational version of ourselves possible.
Do it for your friends. Do it for your family. Do it for your children and partners.
But ultimately, do it for YOU.

Danielle Appi