"How Self-Care Makes You, You" by: Dr. Alexis  Hugelmeyer

You know that woman you work or socialize with who is always perfectly put together?  Dress up or dress down, she is always coordinated: hair and nails perfect, makeup done. Her bra and underwear match, and if she isn't wearing killer heels, she has on two matching socks (unlike me 90% of the time). She wears her best smile, highlights her assets, owns her style, does the unexpected, is comfortable in her own skin, and has enviable confidence. Every time you see her you take notice of her appearance and think "man I wish I had the time to get my act together." Well today I want you to take a page from her book.  I'm so happy I did. 
 
Since the birth of my second child seven years ago, I have not been comfortable in my own skin. I work nights, so I've been able to hide behind scrubs and pineapple hair (you know that crazy knotted bun that you plop up on your head when you're about to throw down). I wasn't at my ideal weight (and am still not but getting there with low-carb healthy fat - more on that later) so shopping just made me depressed.  My makeup was old and outdated, and I didn't have time to get nails done or update my hairstyle. 

Some months ago, my friend sent me an invite to the Brave Enough/Style MD community. Every day I see posts from members like me: hardworking women who haven’t been making the time to look or dress their best.  They post their beaming selfies showcasing their outfit of the day, their new hair tool or lip color, or urgent status updates directing us to a department store sale. They show us their workout gear and motivate us to get fit for our health because we often don't practice what we preach. They show us how even after a long night of being on call, they still make the effort, even if it is just mascara and lip gloss. They document what they wear to take care of patients in clinic, negotiate a new contract, speak at a national conference, take their kids to soccer practice and go on a date night with their significant others.  

Women of different styles, ethnicities, and body types pop up and make me notice. They are high achievers - critical care doctors, anesthesiologists, plastic surgeons, pediatricians, family docs. Many are also moms with endless obligations besides just a high stress career.  And they all make time to pull themselves together, so why couldn't I? 
 
I bought in. I stopped wearing scrubs and started pulling together outfits, even though I'm the vampire doctor who only does overnights and doesn't see as many people as the day docs. When I have to wear scrubs now, I add some jewelry and lipstick to jazz it up. I ditched the pineapple hair and started to pay attention to hair and makeup, started manicuring my own nails, wearing perfume and got back on a healthy eating plan. I dropped 12 pounds!  I started shopping (maybe not one of the positives in this story) for clothes that weren't necessarily in my wheelhouse.  

I started to like feeling feminine again - a feeling that had escaped me for many years mostly due to being overworked and utterly exhausted. My husband was the first to notice and paid even more attention than usual.  I started getting compliments from friends and strangers.  People now ask what I am doing different. Looking good makes me feel good and my progress inspired compliance. I am determined to get my health, weight, skin and attitude back to a positive place. I still check in with my stylish physician FB friends and sometimes I even post when I'm proud of a particular look. It's a supportive and encouraging space where we celebrate who we are (and there are no mean girls allowed). 
 
So, I just want to remind you, as I discovered recently for myself...that chick who has it all together, she's you.  She's a version of you that you might not even know exists.  Maybe she's a more carefree former version of you - the high school or college you who didn't have all the adult obligations and stressors.  She's fierce and foxy, classy and confident.  She has battle-scars and emotional baggage but that has built in her a will of steel.  She is loving and generous and righteous.  She supports other women and is proud of herself. 
 
There are most definitely days that no amount of concealer can fix - the really stressful, heart-breaking days that tax your body and mind, the days you just want to collapse from exhaustion and hide under a huge comforting blanket.  But the overwhelming majority of days are worthy of the effort it takes to make yourself feel look and feel beautiful. 
 
It doesn't have to break the bank - self-care can simply mean cleaning out your closet and only keeping the clothes that make you feel fabulous, so you have no other choice but to wear flattering outfits.  It can mean watching YouTube videos with your daughter to learn the latest nail techniques (which I think is painting the ring finger a different color than the rest).  It definitely means buying a Kiss Instawave (look it up, you won't be sorry) and buying all the Umberto dry shampoo you can fit in your Target cart.  

Celebrate your beauty, brains and strength. Love and take care of yourself today and every day. You deserve to look -and feel- your absolute best.  


 

A board-certified Family Physician by training, Dr. Alexis Hugelmeyer has spent most of her 10-year career as a nocturnist.  On her weeks off, she focuses on developing her virtual practice, DrLexRx.  Her online group wellness program Balance Before Burnout launches this month and aims to help women who are experiencing physical, social and emotional exhaustion.  She also blogs about family and community health.  

Dr. Hugelmeyer resides in Chapel Hill, NC with her husband Michael and their three adventurous children Isabella, Lance & Lucia.

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