By Emily Clark
It seems a super common theme among my workmates, friends and family that they are all trying to achieve more balance in their lives. We all want to feel a sense of life balance right? So why is it so important and what does ‘Balance’ actually mean, why do we all feel such a visceral need for balance and why do we crave it so badly now and not when we’re kids or in our teens or even in our 20’s. For me balance is important as I try and juggle more balls at once. Gone are the days of focusing on studying, friends and the weekends (not necessarily in that order might I add).
Balance means that I have equal amounts of time doing the things I love doing, spending time being a good Mum to my toddler, helping my team at work grow and thrive while delivering on my own objectives, enjoying the company of family and friends while also having the time for the things, let’s just say that I don’t enjoy as much, cleaning, making meals, life admin, stuck in traffic! In short, when I am balanced I’m the best version of me for everyone around me and myself.
I’m not an expert on finding your balance as such but I can certainly tell you my experience and what I’ve found works for me, especially since adding a non-stop ball of energy (my son Jack) into the mix. I get told to slow down and not expect as much of myself or be patient and have more flexible timelines for my goals but I’m comfortable running at the pace I do and wouldn’t change it. I often used to catch myself in a conversation around the feeling of not being able to fit everything into my day. I’d be in a near-constant state of overwhelm until a good friend and mentor told me, there is enough time for everything in your day, you just need to plan and prioritise accordingly, this has stayed with me since and has become somewhat of a daily mantra particularly as the work piles on.
Having a healthy lifestyle is such a common term nowadays, I hear it all too often in my industry but it’s something I absolutely swear by. When I’m truly healthy I perform at my peak without any lows during the day. For me, this means cooking healthy meals while enjoying the process and allowing myself a night off once a week, not a cheat meal necessarily but takeaway or a night out. Preparing my lunches and snacks to take to work in advance and planning my walking, weekly PT session and group fitness classes (generally Reformer Pilates) before the week rolls around, are a bit like my security blanket, I know whatever happens during my working week that these sessions will help me stay calm while ensuring a high level of output.
So, if you’re like me and so many other people I speak to daily working hard to find balance in your own busy life, here’s some of my top tips; (hopefully they help you as much as they do me)
1 Find your routine to help you prepare for success: Find a routine that works for you… and your family of course
How I make it work for me: I book my weekly classes/ gym sessions/ training sessions as far in advance as I can, usually at least 2 weeks,
Tip: Remember these are like a meeting with yourself so avoid cancelling these like the plague and if you do have a backup routine.
I’ve learned, no matter how well I plan, life happens. Expect, and prepare for how to deal with them. A meeting at work will change, your child might be sick… you may be sick. If you can reschedule your session to another time in the week do it straight away. If you can’t aim to mix it up, get outside for 30 minutes for a walk in the fresh air, do your own routine at home, try stretching, meditation or whatever you can fit in. Most importantly don’t be hard on yourself, just find your routine again as soon as you can.
2 Stock the fridge with healthy options and you can’t go wrong. To avoid slipping into bad habits, a little prep can go a long way.
How I make it work for me: I find doing this on the weekend gives me time to stock the cupboards and fridge and then also time for preparing anything I can for the weekly meals. If you don’t get time on the weekend, prepare and plan to cook easy and quick nutritious meals. Throwing a frittata together is always a winner or a quick delicious salad.
Tip: My go-to recipes are a stir fry or roast veg & nut salad.
A few things I always have in the fridge and pantry
- Lots of greens, they are so easy to cut and put in the wok for a stir fry or eat raw with a tasty dip
- Raw nuts great filling snack and additive to loads of recipes
- Coconut oil, everything tastes so great cooked in coconut oil & because it is an MCT oil it is more readily used as energy and not stored as fat
- Brown rice/rice noodles as a filler to a stir fry or any other meal are fantastic and healthy
- Fresh fruit, what more needs to be said?
Always have water with you. 10% dehydration results in a 70% lack in concentration.
3 Your fitness space
Find a fitness space and routine you know you enjoy and can stick to, I’m a bit biased but The Studio HQ in Hobart is a good fit for anyone…
How I make it work for me: I always find more fun working out with a friend, I don’t know why but something about it just makes it that little bit more enjoyable. I do a weekly PT session with a friend which not only holds me accountable, but it is seriously fun to share the reps and laughs with. I also attend 2 x Reformer Pilates classes each week and often do a Yoga class to release and reset. On my other days, it’s an early morning walk in the fresh air with the pram.
Tip: Don’t be afraid to get started, there is no time like the present, no matter what you feel like now others that were less fit, less coordinated and less healthy than you have gone on to achieve amazing things for themselves and almost all that I speak to wish they had had the courage to take action earlier. If you’ve always wanted to try a sport or an exercise or something you know will help you find your balance then do it now. You will find nothing but support from those that matter to you. Don’t wait for the perfect time because it will never come.
4 Set goals & write them down: The power of writing down your goals and talking to people about them can’t be overstated.
How I make it work for me: I like to set mini and major milestone goals. Setting weekly goals is really powerful for me but I also need longer-term goals so writing them down is a must otherwise they get forgotten or are too easy to ignore.
Tip: There’s an interesting study showcasing the power of writing down your goals that I’ve never forgotten if you question the reasoning behind writing down goals this one study might be the catalyst to change your habits around setting and writing down your goals this year.
5 Load up on fresh air & Vitamin D: Ensure you find time in the fresh air every day to reset, breathe and allow it to awaken your deepest desires. It is the perfect break from our manufactured environments with 24/7 air con and lighting.
How I make it work for me: A morning or evening walk to begin or end my day with is my go to. If I’ve failed to get a morning walk in and have a later finish, I usually take a quick break over lunch to walk somewhere outside to make sure I get at least 15 minutes. If I have appointments close by I’ll walk to them instead of using the car and on the weekends I tend to overdose a little whenever I can. Vitamin D is such an important part of our health it’s great for bone health, not to mention that feeling of the sun on your face reaching down and warming your soul is one of the best feelings ever.
Tip: Limit the amount of exposure in any one dose to 10 or 15 minutes and be sure to apply sunscreen, chemical-free if possible and wear a hat.
6 Prioritise you, it’s not selfish: Work out what your true priorities are, once you’ve decided on what YOUR priorities are you won’t let anything get in the way of them.
For those of you who are mothers, you’ll likely know the feeling of dropping everything for your little one(s). It’s not a guilty pleasure to have some priorities of your own. Be an example for your kids by doing the things important to you as well, unless you want your kids to grow up never prioritising their own health and fitness. Show yourself and them what you can accomplish in life.
I think we all get the guilts at one time or another for taking time out for ourselves rather than looking after or providing for others in our life. I always go by the way of thinking, if you are not mentally or physically operating at your optimal level, you can’t possibly provide for others at an optimal level.
Tip: My number one tip to try, take time for yourself and then reflect on how you are around others after, I bet you notice a huge difference.
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