Life has a funny way of taking unexpected, yet appreciated turns.
If you read my blog you probably know that just over a year ago my family relocated to a suburb outside of Chicago. In an effort to get the family settled, I took time off and focused on being a wife and mom. I was free to hit the gym anytime during the day and often put in two workouts a day. It was kind of a nice break from the hectic schedule of training and teaching I left behind when we moved. While the break was nice, I was getting anxious to again have something of my own. Shortly after picking up some classes and rebuilding my ‘work’out wardrobe I got a call from a recruiter. ‘I found your resume online and I was wondering if you would be interested in a position as a Production Manager with a local e-Learning company.’
After a couple weeks of great contemplation and numerous discussions with friends and family, I decided returning to a more traditional job was the best choice for both me and my family. It’s now been almost two months since I started working in an office and I’m finding my way back to making health and exercise a priority.
I always thought I could identify with my clients because I was a working wife and mom too. But having a career in fitness, as opposed to a traditional office job makes you take a number of things for granted:
- Getting 10,000 steps in a day – it was incredibly difficult for me to understand how people couldn’t meet this threshold number. Now that I sit at a desk all day, I have to intentionally work to get my 10,000 steps.
- Drinking water – it’s pretty difficult to chug down coffee or a soda in the gym but when sitting at a desk they seem to be the best source for giving the extra charge needed to get through the last tough project of the day.
- Getting to the gym – When you work at the gym, it’s clearly never a problem to stay an extra 30 minutes or an hour to get in a personal workout. After a long day at the office, it takes some convincing, some willpower and a whole lot of determination and planning to fit in that 30 minutes or an hour at the gym.
- Making good food choices – Similar to drinking water, it’s pretty easy to down a healthy meal/snack at the gym. The last thing anyone wants is unhealthy food weighing down your body and energy while trying to encourage others to ‘step it up.’ Food is fuel to keep going through training sessions and classes. But when sitting at a desk, food is either an afterthought because of the bustle of meetings and projects or another trip out to lunch with co-workers.
So while I am no longer training and teaching full time, I’d like to shift the focus of my blog to help support the vast majority of women out there who are struggling to find balance with it all. I recognize what I took for granted and I now understand better than ever the struggles many of my past clients faced.
So from one overscheduled working mom to my audience of overscheduled lives, here’s my advice:
- 10,000 steps – yes, the number of steps you take a day does make a difference so pick up a pedometer or use something like a FitBit to track your activity levels. It’s important to start with an awareness of your activity levels so that you can make the necessary adjustments. I’ve discovered the most efficient way for me to get my steps in is a 30 minute run. Running may not be for you, and that’s okay. Take a walk with a friend, join a step aerobics or Zumba class, play a game of basketball with your kids – be creative and do what it takes to meet that 10,000 step mark each day.
- Drinking water – hydration is a major contributor to weight loss and overall health. The standard is to consume the equivalent of half of your body weight in ounces in water each day. Believe me, there are many days that I would prefer a coffee to water, but I am finding that staying hydrated is a great way to maintain my energy levels. If I am properly hydrated the caffeine isn’t as crucial. Get a refillable water bottle that you like and keep it on your desk or near you wherever you are. I’m not a fan of drinking out of plastic so I found a glass water bottle that I love.
- Getting to the gym – I always advised my clients to put their workouts on their calendars. You wouldn’t skip a meeting or lunch with a friend, so don’t skip gym time you have scheduled for yourself. I am finally taking my own advice and have all of the classes I plan to take on my calendar. When I miss a class it is staring me right back in the face. Another thing is to recognize what the most appropriate time of the day is for you to exercise – if you aren’t a morning person, don’t expect that bouncing out of bed at 5am to hit the gym before work is going to come easy. Be realistic about the expectations you set for yourself with exercise. I’m learning a ton of lessons in the ‘getting to the gym category’ but I’ll stop with this last one for now – something is better than nothing. If you only have 10 minutes, then do a few push-ups, crunches and jumping jacks. Just do something!
- Making good food choices – planning and preparation are key to good food choices, both during the work day and at home. I’ve found that bringing healthy options to the office is a great way to ensure I don’t skip lunch or make an unhealthy choice. I don’t always have time in the morning so when cleaning up from dinner I take a few extra moments to make a lunch. When heading out to lunch with co-workers I make sure to first check out the salads or light plate offerings and always ask for dressing or sauces on the side. Week night dinners are often now crockpot meals or easy recipes and I’m saving the more time consuming cooking for the weekend. And hey, there’s nothing wrong with heating up leftovers for dinner.
I’m enjoying my job and while it’s been a bit of a struggle to maintain my focus on health and fitness while transitioning back to an office environment, I’m embracing the journey. By trading my gym shoes for high heels I’m gaining a better understanding of the reality of working moms everywhere.
I’m confident I’ll find my way and hopefully I can help inspire others along the way too.