Do you look at photos of celebrities or Instagram posts and think, "why can't I look like that?" You might wish you had a woman's' trim legs or waistline. This is something I wish I could stop doing and I wish my clients would stop doing too. "Comparison is the death of Joy", Mark Twain. We are all beautiful individuals and comparing ourselves to others is absolutely terrible path to travel down. These celebrities probably have a long list of factors that make it possible for them to look like the way they do; genetics, money, chefs, doctors and time. Plus photo shop and professional photographers to help spruce up the photos to make them look even more trim and beautiful. They have the time and motivation because it's their job!
So how is it fair that we beat ourselves up for not looking like these "role models?" The odds are against us. We have real life roles that involve desk work, childcare, taking care of our families, and then also trying to find time to care for ourselves. Where is the balance? What is the balance that is right?
This is different or everyone. Taking the time to think about what you want your balance to look like is the first step. How much do you value working out and eating healthy over family time, over social food gatherings, over building your career?
So often I catch myself as well as hear friends, family, and clients beating ourselves up about not getting in workouts or planning meals. I see the frustration of trying to set aside time for this as well as all the other stuff in our lives that is important. We are trying to juggle family, career, fun and somehow squeeze in workouts, healthy meals, and self care. This juggling leads to feeling like we are continuously failing at one area or another. So what is realistic? What can you really do? How can we balance out the major areas of our lives so that we have time for it all?
If you honestly look at the most important things in your life right now how would rank these things in order of importance?
Fitness and Health
Then based on this ranking how should you divide up time in your life for each area?....
Right now I have to say that for me, family is at the top of my list, then career, fun, fitness and health are all a close second. Because of this I do not have the time that I had a year ago for workouts and meal prep. But I'm not completely giving up on my fitness and diet. I have had to scale back. I've had to come to the realization that getting in a 30 minute run 3 times a week is not happening. I can't train for a triathlon like I had wanted to do. But I can get in 10-20 minute HIIT workout on the indoor bike a couple times a week. I can't cook quite like I was before because of different tastes in my family and time available but I can still stick to healthy basics and make my meals pretty close to what I want. I also realize that I want to have fun and part of fun for me is enjoying delicious treats and enjoying them with family. So my splurges are more often then before. All this has lead to more fat on my body and not as much endurance as I used to have. But because strength training is something I have time for I am stronger than I used to be! To summarize, I am switching my mindset from being bummed that I "failed" at the workouts and diet plans I had imagined to being excited to see the work i'm putting into my career, fun, and family. Yes that means a little more to grab around my waistline and a slower 5k pace, but I will take it. Because the return in the other areas of my life have been significantly rewarding.
I think you have to step back, take a look at your goals and priorities right now, and then decide how much time CAN and DO you WANT to set aside for family, career, fun, creativity, workouts and diet, and whatever else is an important area of your life. If some areas of your life are taking priority (whether you want them to or not) then you have to figure out the minimum effort to get a satisfactory goal. Then what would be that satisfactory goal? If it is more important to you right now to grow your career then you have to realize that and set a fitness goal that will keep you healthy but allow most of your time to be spent building a career. If you decided to have a family and that is taking the majority of your time then what is the minimum time you can do to keep healthy and fit and still take care of your family too. If having a social life that involves drinking and treats is a important part of your life then you have to realize that this is going to hinder your progress at the gym. The examples can go on and on. But the bottom line is that you have to realize that some goals just aren't realistic if your time and energy is being pulled in other directions. This means you have to take a look at your expectations and bring them down to a realistic place.
Try this exercise:
1. Make a list of all the important goals and areas in your life.
2. Rank them in order of importance.
2. Than think about what your goals/expectations are related to each.
3. Are they realistic in relation to where they are ranked?
4. Remember you only have 60 minutes in a hour, 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week. So you have to balance it out.
5. Then look at your calendar and roughly set aside times that you feel are appropriate for each one.
5. Remember that this is not set in stone. You can change these at any time! And you will have to change it time and time again.
6. Then start paying attention to what you are thinking and saying in your head about these priorities. Are you setting unrealistic expectations about career? about workouts? Are you taking care of your family and loved ones? Are you enjoying your life?
For some people skipping on social events is worth the payoff at the gym.
For some people delaying moving up in their career is worth having more time with family.
You have to know what is the most important to you right now and how will you organize areas of your life and you BRAIN so that it all fits together.
Then you have to turn off comparing and beating yourself up. I know this is so much easier to say then do. But you have to be working towards it.
Un-follow social media accounts that make you feel bad about yourself.
Throw away magazines.
Engage your friends. Ask them to tell you when you say something that is bad about your looks. Then you can also alert them.