Name: Catharine Cook
Strength: Taking good care of herself
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REAL MOMS, REAL ADVICE
Features writer Amy Bredeson writes about Lowcountry moms who have advice to share. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Moms often struggle to make time for themselves. Bubble baths and outings with girlfriends become things of the past once that baby comes along.
And for many moms, finding time to exercise can seem near impossible. But as most of us have heard at some point from a caring parent, doctor or friend -- we have to take care of ourselves in order to take care of our families.
Catharine Cook of Bluffton has put this advice into action.
She is a yoga instructor and a massage therapist. She's also the mother of a 13-year-old, an avid equestrian and a health enthusiast.
Despite her busy schedule -- and the fact that she has six dogs, three cats and one horse to take care of -- she makes time to stay in shape. And she makes sure her daughter does, too.
Question. So, your strength is taking care of yourself and encouraging your daughter to take good care of herself. What's your secret?
Answer. You have to be devoted to it. You can't put it on the back burner. ... If you don't feel like doing it, you can take a day off, but you have to make up for it. And I would say my secret is I no longer put myself aside. I put myself first. And I really was "take care of everybody else before me." That was my way of thinking for a long time, and the yoga really enlightened me to if I don't take care of myself first, I can't take care of anybody else. ... My daughter, of course, is my No. 1 priority. But she inspires me to want to take care of myself better. ... If I want to stay in shape, I have to go do these things. If I want to stay mentally balanced, I have to go exercise and eat right and drink water.
Q. Do you do anything other than yoga for exercise?
A. I'm an equestrian. ... Riding is like therapy for me. That's what I did for many, many years. ... keeps me in pretty good shape. You know, you burn a lot of calories when you ride. ... I've really gotten into standup paddle. A lot of fun. ... My daughter and I go out on the May River, and we paddle all around Palmetto Bluff. And JIVA does standup paddle yoga on the boards. I got into that in the beginning of the summer ... That is a lot of fun. Talk about balance, finesse, patience. ... And I ride my bike, and I run.
Q. What else do you do to stay healthy?
A. I eat healthy. I eat many times a day, smaller meals. I take lots of vitamins. I'm big time into helping your body with supplements if you can't get it all from your food, which I don't think really any of us can. ... I just have a well-balanced diet. I don't leave veggies out. I don't leave fruits out.
Q. Were you always health-conscious, even as a child?
A. Oh, yeah. My mom is the epitome of why I am health-conscious. ... She takes about a handful of vitamins every day, and drinks tons of water, green tea.
Q. Why do you think it's important to pass this down to your daughter?
A. Oh, it's essential that you ... instill it in your children so that they can instill it in their children, so they can be healthy and hopefully live long, healthy lives and make it a little easier on themselves if they find the proper balance with diet, exercise. I'd say the spiritual side. That's a big part of it, too ... You've got to love yourself so that you can feel good about yourself.
Q. What is something you're not so great at?
A. I'm just human. I get off-balance real quick. When I get off-balance and get off my schedule, that's mostly what I struggle with, when I do struggle with it, which is not much, it's just checking myself at the door and getting back into gear. ... I would say I struggle, too, with remembering that if I don't take care of me, I'm not going to be able to be there for anybody else. I do struggle with that. I get off-center like everybody else.