The overwhelming response I received from a recent Instagram post on balance sparked me to expand on this ultra-important topic with a blog. If there is one goal all of us can relate to, it’s the idea of achieving a sense of equilibrium among life’s countless demands. Life pulls us in many directions. It is nonstop, go-go-go and sometimes our responsibilities seem to control us rather than the other way around. Family, friends, work, training, social life — how do we balance it all?
Achieving a greater sense of balance is my No. 1 goal in 2018, a particularly challenging one for me as I have a toddler and an infant who need me 100 percent of their waking hours (and some of their “sleeping” hours as well). My current top balance struggles include: Finding time for training without compromising family quality time, continuing to grow my nutrition consulting business and support my clients, staying on top of household demands, maintaining milk supply while ramping up training, maintaining milk supply while trying to get back into my pre-baby clothes, and minimizing mom guilt when spending time away from the babies.
While I am definitely a work in progress in this area, here are some strategies I’ve recently implemented to even out the pendulum in my life. Hopefully they work for you too:
1. Prioritize Commitments & Develop Realistic Time Allotments
How many hours per week will you spend: working, cleaning, doing laundry, running kids to activities, training, cooking, hanging with your spouse, walking your dogs? For me, some time goals are non-negotiable, like family commitments. Other areas are more flexible, like training. I have been working closely with my coach to determine the amount of training hours per week that allow me to prepare for this year’s races, without feeling completely overwhelmed, like I’m neglecting other areas of life, or that it’s negatively impacting my milk supply for the baby. This requires honesty on my part and a realistic approach to what can be accomplished in a day.
2. Make Peace with What You CAN Accomplish
There are only 24 hours in a day. I’m trying to accept the fact that some days I won’t get everything done — I’m being forced to prioritize. I am extremely Type A — to the point of OCD tendencies — so this is a very tough area for me to wrap my head around. I want it all done, and all done well. I’m learning to just do the very best I can and let the other stuff go. Occasionally I miss a workout because one of the kids doesn’t nap, and life does go on!
3. Minimize Guilt
Guilt is unproductive. I know this, yet sometimes I struggle with it. I leave for a workout and think, I should be with the kids. I’m hanging with the kids and thinking, I should be doing client stuff. From many conversations with friends, I know this is a normal response to balancing a crazy life schedule. I’ve found that implementing Tip No. 1 in this area has helped a lot — prioritize and decide in advance how much time will be spent in various activities. And then ditch the guilt!
4. Make Every Moment Count
Whether it’s work time, family time or training time, I want it to be quality time where my focus is the task at hand. I’m putting my phone down when I’m spending time with the kids so our activities together are uninterrupted — they can tell if I’m distracted. During training sessions, I’m focusing on staying in the moment — and what I want to accomplish this season as this is usually my only “me” time in the day. With clients, I am laser-focused on their goals, instead of what I need to do to get dinner on the table upon arriving home. My goal is to be the best version of me, in whatever I am doing. In other words, be present. I am not successful with these objectives 100 percent of the time, but getting there!
5. Waste No Time
This means absolutely no time for procrastination/whining. Whatever can be accomplished today — this very moment — is done quickly before the opportunity passes. I constantly practice gratitude, reminding myself how blessed I am to have clients to service, a family to love and a training plan I am healthy enough to follow. A few nights ago I read a letter on Facebook from a dying 27-year old woman, who was reflecting on the truly important things in life and urging her readers to stop stressing about the dumb, trivial stuff. Which most of it is! This really hit home for me, and sometimes I need to be knocked upside the head with a shift in perspective.
6. Take Risks: We Get One Shot At Life (OSAL)
Life is about taking risks and pushing oneself to do scary things that pay off big in the end. I’m doing this in 2018. I have several big goals and am pushing myself toward them one day at a time. I’m coining the acronym OSAL, by the way. It’s the new YOLO.
I am a work in progress and some of these tips are really hard to do. But I want my life to be balanced — and I want to be the best wife, mom, dietitian and athlete I can be. So I’m putting in the hard work for this year. Good luck to you in doing the same!
Brooke Schohl, MS, RD, CSSD is a registered sports dietitian and the owner of Fuel to the Finish Endurance Nutrition Coaching in Scottsdale, Arizona. She is an avid triathlete, having completed many triathlons of all distances, including three IRONMAN races. She integrates that personal experience and knowledge into developing customized, sport-specific fueling plans for her clients. For more information on services and offerings, visit her website at fueltothefinish.com.
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