Today, there is so much talk about this word "balance." A balanced diet, a balanced work life, balanced check-books, life balance, but really, what is balance?
Webster’s dictionary defines Balance as: an aesthetically pleasing integration of elements. What these elements are varies for each of us. And, how these elements are integrated is equally diverse.
Everyone has their own personal balance. No one can define it for you and there isn’t any magic pill that provides it. For me, balance is the relationship between enjoyment and necessities. The elements I integrate include work, family, and fitness.
A question I hear often: “how do you find time or energy to run/exercise”? Most of the time I kind of giggle to myself because from the outside it does seem like there just aren’t enough hours in my day. I work full- time, I have a pretty long commute each day, and have two active kids (okay, technically just one now, as our oldest son just went away to college). To make things more complex, add a lofty training goal into the mix, such as a marathon, and boom…free time…what is that? Let’s face it, marathon training is pretty time consuming and requires a significant time commitment. There are speed training runs, recovery runs and then those ever increasing long-distance training runs that can consume a better part of your day. All of which is planned out and incorporated around an already busy schedule. Admittedly sometimes it does seem overwhelming.
When my first son was born, he woke up to eat before dawn, which created this an awkward period of down time: not enough time to go back to bed before needing to get ready for work, (at that time there really wasn’t “flex time”), and who wants to do housework at 5 o’clock in the morning? So, I began my early morning trips to the gym to attend a step aerobics class at our company fitness center. It gave me the little morning boost I needed. It was then I determined that the early morning hours were my best opportunity to carve out “me time”. A period of the day that couldn’t be hijacked by anyone else because let’s admit it not many people are really vying for your attention at 5 am. I haven’t always been consistent over the years, but since I fell in love with running about 4 years ago, I have definitely been more committed and consistent at maintaining a regular schedule.
Personally, I set a pretty regimented bedtime hour to ensure that when that 4:30 wakeup call rings, I am not shutting it off and rolling over and more often than not, I am up before the alarm, excited to go out and breathe in the fresh morning air and hopefully enjoy a sunrise. I admit, there has been a skipped workout now and then. (albeit – I almost never skip a run). I am way more prone to skip a cross train/strength training day). Which then poses issues for an entirely different topic.
So, when your life seems like it is spinning out of control and you feel there is that “take me away moment”, it’s time to examine your own personal goals. Many people put themselves last on the priority list because they are too busy being something to someone else. STOP! It isn’t always easy and so many get discouraged by their unrealistic ideals that “it is too hard”, “change isn’t happening fast enough” or “I still have so far to go”. Stop comparing yourself to others, and most of all stop getting discouraged of what is still left to conquer but focus on how far you’ve come!
It is perfectly okay to put yourself first. Carve out what ever time of day fits you best, a time where you devote just to yourself whether it is to take a walk, go for a run, practice yoga or whatever. Really an hour of exercise is 4% of your day. Think about that…just 4% of your day focused on you makes you a better human. So, take a breath, lace up, and get out there. Your future self will thank you for it.
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