My part of the #PathToFit campaign with Garmin and Whole Foods is coming to an end this week. Each week they have given us topics to talk about and we get to “run” with them and make them ours. It’s been nice having someone give me a topic to think about rather than getting lost in the endless mix of good and bad ideas swirling in my head.
They asked us this week what our tips were for balancing fitness, well being and life.
I thought about coming up with a post – the list type of post that everyone love, the one that gets pinned 1,000 times on Pinterest, but doesn’t really say anything that really sticks with you and helps you make lasting change.
Who am I to give out tips on balance when even the idea of it is something that I struggled with in 2014?
As I trained for the Boston Marathon last year, my marriage fell apart. I thought in a way my life was falling together and I was going to find that elusive sense of balance. I wrongly thought having more me time would enable me to be a better – read happier – person.
In order to find this balance I was searching for I created a list in my head of things I would do and not do. Once all of them were achieved I would finally be at that place I had been struggling to get to. I would be a great mom, a caring friend, I would be happy with myself and stop beating myself up for every little mistake in life, I would feel at peace.
Instead of creating balance, or improving me as a person – these goals, thoughts, activities pushed me farther away from where I wanted to be and who I wanted to be.
I remember having a conversation with Eric where he said. I’ve known you a long time – can I give you a piece of advice – balance is key in life. You don’t have it.
I thought to myself NO SH*T Sherlock – if I could find balance I would be happy. DUH. Tell me how to balance it all and I’ll do it.
I had to figure out what balance meant to ME, then I would actually end up creating a life that felt balanced.
Balance didn’t mean doing more, it meant doing more with less. Sort of like quality over quantity. I wasn’t able to give my all to anything because I had so many things. Instead of adding more to my life, it meant taking away the things that didn’t matter as much – clearing the fray – and focusing more on the things that REALLY meant something. Having it all is not actually having it all – which may make perfect sense, or no sense at all.
My husband and I have somewhat of a fairytale ending – we made our way back to each other. In doing that I realized that it’s not always the strong or brave thing to get up – walk away – give up – sometimes being brave means to accept and acknowledge your flaws and work really hard to make someone else happy other than yourself.
2014 was the year I grew up. It was the year that I thought was going to break me, but ended up making me.
For me to give advice on how to achieve it all and find balance in family, fitness, life would be ludicrous. All I can do is share what I’ve learned and continue to learn and hope that in some small way it touches you and helps you on your journey to find the same.
Last week I was sitting at my kitchen table alone. My kids were at school and other than some music quietly playing in the living room, all was quiet. I sat there and looked around at my house and felt fulfilled. I felt balanced. My to-do list was still a mile long, there were many ideas swirling in my head but it didn’t make me feel like I was on the lower end of a see-saw not heavy enough to ever make the other rider come down. It was a new feeling.
I had it all, without having it all.
I still have off days, when I do, I text a friend. Off days are okay, they happen, but more often than not I feel balanced.
Here are some of the changes I made in my life that have paid off big time for me:
- being more present with my kids – I’m with my kids a lot. I don’t have a nanny and we have never paid for a sitter. I haven’t always been the most present mom. When I’m with them I have lots of other things on my mind. I have tried to set aside time every day where they are the focus. I put my phone away and I listen to their stories. I ask them questions about their day and I care about their answers. I realized that my goals mean nothing in life if I am not helping them grow and learn how to foster their own dreams and goals.
- being more present with my husband – This means doing things for him that he sees as love. I don’t need my house to be organized all the time and tidy, but he loves coming home and having the living room and kitchen clean and organized. I make the effort to keep it the way he likes it so he can feel at peace. When he is at peace, I am usually at peace too. This has also meant finishing things on the computer during the day while he is at work, rather than completing them at night. This way I am around to hang out with the family rather than off in my office typing away.
- not defining my success in life by a number – For so long my life has been about numbers. When I wanted to lose weight it was about getting the numbers down on the scale, when I became a runner it was about having a faster finish time on the clock. I still enjoy numbers, I really love attempting to hit 10,000 steps every day but I don’t get down on myself when I don’t hit a certain number. I don’t believe I am any less of a person if I never run a sub 3:11 marathon. I am not a failure if I only hit 6,000 steps instead of 10,000. I am learning to define my body by how it feels and not what the scale says to me. It has meant weighing myself once a week or less instead of daily. It has also meant that I no longer define my worth as a runner in my PR’s.
- nourishing my body with foods that help me instead of hurt me – In January I successfully completely Whole30. During this process I have made lasting changes and have come to accept that some foods though they taste good don’t make me feel good.
- letting go of the idea that having it all meant doing it all – I’ve had some amazing opportunities in my life. Some opportunities I’ve had to begrudgingly turn down for whatever reason. Instead of dwelling on things I didn’t do, or things I did wrong, I move on, and know that everything is part of the process. The yes’ and the no’s have gotten me to this exact place in life.
- being content with that place – I think there is a huge difference between being content and being complacent. You can still strive for things but be content with all that you have.
- creating instead of reacting – I got to a place, partially as a result of this blog, where I felt like I needed to be constantly doing things – tweeting things, reading things, posting things, cheering on others – it left me drained and unhappy. I was connected to thousands of people virtually but didn’t feel connected to anyone fully in real life. This has meant texting friends and calling them – asking about their children, instead of reading about it on facebook. I feel deeper connections to those around me, because I’m present and creating relationships rather than reacting to what I see online.
- thinking about others instead of myself – I believe as humans we are all naturally a bit selfish. Constantly training for a faster marathon turned me into someone who was always focused on me, my goals. Everything revolved around training or not training. I stopped doing things I loved and that took away some of the joy of running. This has meant that I attempt to get some of my long runs finished during the week, so on the weekends I can wake up and be lazy with my family. It has meant that when a friend asks me for help to watch her children, I don’t think of all the things I wanted to do that day, I take a moment and help and give up my time. In return I feel happier because the focus isn’t always on me, I’m being someone who I always wanted to be. The girl you can always count on to help.
- accepting and forgiving – I can let others be who they want to be and accept them as they are. If I want people to accept me faults and all I have to do the same. One of my sisters and I have not exactly had the greatest of relationships – it was at a point where a close friend of mine texted me on Thanksgiving and said – I didn’t know you had another sister?!?! There was a lot of pain there. I’ve learned that in order to find balance, happiness and peace within myself I have to forgive others. Truly forgive and accept them as they are, then and only then can I expect others to do the same for me. I’m loving having two sisters I talk to on a weekly basis, instead of just one.
- moving at my pace – I was so busy with trying to be someone that I became no one. If I didn’t achieve or do something in a timeline that would impress others I felt like a failure. My goals remain the same but I will move at my own pace, no matter how slow that may be. I’m fulfilled in so many ways that I wasn’t before, that the end destination isn’t as important to me as the process.
Healing and growing as person has gotten me to a point where I feel fitter than ever. Maybe that’s what fitness is? A place where you physically, emotionally and mentally feel good.
I can see it in the eyes of my children – my peace has rubbed off on them. As a family we have never been happier and that feels like balance to me. Balance really was the magical key.
What do you define as balance? What are your tips for helping achieve it?