Fitness, sleep, work, family, friends: pick 3. Or maybe more accurately: pick 2. Can we really be the super mom and the CEO and the fittest chick in the gym and the supportive wife + awesome friend, while taking time for self care and recovery, all at the same damn time?
I get asked regularly how I find balance between being a business owner, a wife, pursuing health and fitness, taking time for myself, and more. And it gives me pause every time. Is the idea of a happily balanced life a utopian dream? Is it just an illusion, something we’re told to believe is out there but actually isn’t, like comfortable heels and “one size fits all”?
In my experience, the short answer is yes, it can be done, for some time, for some of us. But the long answer is a little more complex than that.
You see, over the last few months, I’ve been hustling hard. I’ve been building this here lil business and investing all my time, energy, focus and did I say time? into it, to be able to create a product that can change the lives of my readers. I’m so proud of what I created and the work I’ve done, but make no mistake my friends: it came with a steep price tag.
The process of growing my business cost me my ability to spend 2 hours a day in the gym, 5 days a week. It cost me my ability to make interesting, fun meals. It cost me my weekends, my time with friends, and most of my social life. It cost me date nights with my husband. It cost me the ability to kick back, relax and hashtag self care. (What is a "day off" again?)
Because I was (am!) going HARD. And when you’re committed, on a mission, with Eye of the Tiger metaphorically (or literally) playing on repeat in your head while you’re laser focused on a specific, big, goal, this idea of “balance” usually takes a seat. When you’re giving 100% to something in life, you don’t have leftover effort and attention to put into other things. Because, math.
As the saying goes, “Family, friends, work, sleep, fitness: pick 3”. Meaning, for most of us, you cannot have all of these things working in absolute perfect balance in your life, all of the time. (And especially so when you’ve got a big goal lined up in your crosshairs). Can you decide which 2 or 3 you get to focus on on any given day? Absolutely. But can you REALLY have all 5, all at once, in perfect harmony?
Those athletes you see at the CrossFit Games, or those entrepreneurs who are out there building empires? Here's the dirty little secret no one tells you: their life is spent committed to those goals, and they most certainly do not have what you or I would consider "balance", at least in their hustle seasons. Because the bottom line is this: anything worth fighting for and committing to is guaranteed to throw your life’s balance all out of whack.
Sometimes this is an easy sacrifice, and sometimes, not so much. It can be hard to see our friends all go out for dinner and drinks while we’re at home with the baby or working. It can be tough to see ourselves put on some extra lbs or feel like we just can’t hang in the gym anymore.
But here’s why this unbalanced life is ok: these are simply seasons of our life. They come and they go, they ebb and flow, and they are ever changing and always evolving. So when there was a moment recently when I looked in the mirror and stood in shock for a minute and came to terms with the fact that I didn’t recognize the body in the reflection, within seconds, I shrugged and reminded myself that this is temporary. This is simply the season I am in, and the price of pouring 100% into something that isn't the gym means my body's gotten a little softer.
(Side note: even in the seasons that I'm feeling fit and strong and lean, I still appreciate those moments for what they are: fleeting moments. I do not tie my worth to the way I look or my fitness, because the only constants about our bodies is that they change. For more on this concept, read my blog post on Embracing the Seasons of Your Fitness Journey)
I don’t sweat it because there will be a time, not too far from now, when I’ll be able to commit to the gym a little bit more. And when that time comes, I’ll be ready.
I can’t help but think of the CrossFit theory of the sickness-wellness continuum: I am thankful that I’ve had some seasons of commitment where I’ve been able to build my fitness baseline up to a high enough place, where I can essentially take 4 months off of the gym and still be “reasonably fit”. And if you’re not there quite yet, it’s ok, your opportunity will come.
This is also why I do feel that if you have the interest and want to see how far you can push your fitness and your physical body, I'm not going to tell you not to. Try all the things, count and weigh and measure and commit (and enjoy it!), with this VERY IMPORTANT note in mind: it's more than likely a lifestyle you will not be able to sustain forever. And why not? It will throw your life out of balance. Is it worth playing and experimenting with? Heck yes, if that's what you want! But don't expect it to be able to stick around forever, so remember to appreciate it for what it is: an opportunity for a season of growth.
It won't be long until the sands shift and our focus must be placed elsewhere, either out of want or out of need. Staying with 100% intensity in one area of life is surely not sustainable, but I believe it to be necessary, for most of us, at one time or another.
Because this is how goals get accomplished, dreams become reality, and real progress gets made. And if there's one thing I want you to take away from this little blog of mine, it's that you CAN accomplish your goals, and anything is possible. But no matter what Instagram may have you believe, being able to do it ALL, all at once, in perfect, happy harmony, isn't a reality for most of us.
Now: Does every waking moment of your life have to be spent in pursuit of something bigger or better? No, no no. Taking seasons to reflect, accept, embrace, and actually experiment with true balance is just as important as the seasons where we are forging ahead. This is paramount. But in a culture where the pursuit of balance is ever present, and we're told to be searching for it and happily maintaining all of these perfect facets of our life in absolute harmony all the time, I want you to know that being off balance is ok sometimes.
When you have the chance to chase a goal or pursue a dream, appreciate it for what it is: an opportunity, and commit yourself to it, 100%. And don’t be scared of gaining a few pounds, missing out on happy hours, or having life become unbalanced, because you know what? In life, the only thing you can count on is change.
So enjoy the current season of your career, of your fitness, of your relationships, of your personal growth. Accept where you are while you chase the goal on your horizon, even if it's messy. It won’t be long until the winds shift again.