Balanced Life?

What Does a Balanced Life Look Like?: Part II (Exercise)

The below question and responses were compiled by fellow graduate wife reader, Laura Lee.  She surveyed several women on the journey and is sharing with us their answers. You can see her original post here, where she outlines her journey towards discovering the answers of a ‘balanced’ life during this season of being a graduate wife and beyond. This is part II of the ‘What does a balanced life look like?’ series.  Enjoy!

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1) Part of living a balanced life includes a healthy amount of exercise.  How do you choose to exercise? When do you find it best to do it? How on earth do you make time for it?

  • Exercise – I try to run every other morning (M-W-F) around 6am, although sometimes earlier. I reserve Saturday mornings for longer runs and a later start. For the days I don’t run (I take Sunday off completely), I do a workout dvd at home. My son is normally awake by 530 or 6, so I normally get up with him, and then my husband is up by the time I’m headed out the door. When I return, my husband then usually leaves for his run. If I don’t workout, my stress levels are usually off the charts…so this is a must for me, no matter how hard or early. I have to stay healthy (mentally, physically & emotionally)!
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  • What helps me to exercise is by choosing a race to run and marking up my training schedule in my planner so that I do it (and I feel like I didn’t do my homework if I don’t do the day’s run – I’m a huge dork, girls). As for timing, it depends on my husband’s schedule. Sometimes in the morning (he’ll watch my daughter before heading to work), sometimes with my daughter in the afternoons (we have a stroller that ‘jogs’) and sometimes in the early evening (which means dinner is ready before I head out to run, and we eat and do the nightly routine when I get back). I am always thinking I should do some sort of strength training on top of jogging, but I don’t. I take a day off each week.
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  • I love exercise and try to squeeze it in whenever I get the chance.  I do a workout dvd on Monday and Thursday when my son is napping.  I tried to do it with him in the room but it didn’t work…he was pulling on and crawling under my legs and laughing.  Although, the sit-ups were probably good because he wanted to sit on my stomach…as for now I’ll stick to when he’s asleep.  I usually work out at the college gym on Wednesday and sometimes on the weekend.  We really like to have a “family outing” on Saturdays and go for a long walk around the city, to the park, etc.  We just got a bike seat for our son, so I’m looking forward to more cycling adventures on the weekends.  I also try to go for a walk with my son at least once a day.  He is taking one nap a day now so I usually go out with him in the morning to run errands, go to the outdoor market, etc.  If time permits I try to walk and not take the bus when I go into town, which is a pretty long walk.  Most days I take him outside to play in the afternoon.  He’s so active and being outdoors with him is so fun!  Our college has a playground and many places for him to run around and roam.  It’s really exercise enough just chasing my son!
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  • I exercise all the time because A) I have a toddler and B) I have no car.  Life is exercise to me.  I stay busy to stay fit.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m in no shape to be running marathons or anything, but that isn’t important to me at this point in my life.  I’m happy with the size/shape/weight/energy level I am.  However, the times in my life when I have been more fit (at times MUCH more fit) I have made sport/exercise part of my community/social time.  The time spent with friends working out (usually playing sports) fulfilled both relationship needs and exercise needs.  Double duty!  Plus I hate exercising for exercising’s sake.  But I love team sports.  I’m thrilled to sprint for a ball play after play, hour after hour for the sake of the next play and for the sake of a teammate.  If I had a 3 times weekly soccer/basketball game or tennis match and I had someone to watch my daughter, you can bet your buns I’d be there every time.
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  • I was really sporty in high school and have found working out a real challenge. I never had to think about ‘working out’ back in the day,  because I loved basketball so much…it wasn’t a chore, it was a joy and a passion. But here I am now, three kids in tow, and still not back to my ‘ideal’ size…. So I’ve started working out….though now it’s not about reaching that perfect size….it’s about feeling good and being confident that I’m being the best I can be.  And while it still is not my favorite thing, I am learning to love it because it injects some discipline into my life and it feels good to accomplish something difficult. I am finally going to finish P90X. I’ve started it probably 5 times over the last two years and this is my first time to complete it. HALLELUJAH! All stinkin’ 13 weeks of it. And I’ve got the guns to prove it. :) Joking. My kids are bigger so I find it easier to exercise when they’re around. They enjoy watching me and laughing at me. Most days I try to exercise before I pick up my older boys from school. I put my daughter down for a nap, eat some lunch while I watch a show and then I exercise just in the nick of time to pick the boys up at 3:05.
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Are you able to make time to exercise?  When and how do you do it?  Can you tell it makes a difference?
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Balanced Life? · Children

What Does a Balanced Life Look Like?

Written by Laura Lee – a current graduate wife

Summer is melting away faster than the popsicle I’ve been enjoying in the sunshine today. Time to think of a new season and fresh starts!  Giddy with the possibility of new, the resolutions begin. I find myself rattling off my usual list of all the aspects of my life I want to keep in balance. I welcome the opportunity to plan how “this term, we can get our act together.” Ha. I am starting to wonder what this elusive balance actually looks like.

Just google “balance” and you find oodles of crazy images of superhuman feats. Check out the photos above, for example.

These amazing yet completely superfluous feats of Chinese circus performers perfectly demonstrate that balance doesn’t equal simplicity.  These images struck me as a propos to this season of my life and the stress of keeping the plates spinning, not sure of which I can actually put down without the whole number coming to a crash.

Sure, everything is in balance (at least some of the time), but do I want my life to be in balance in a Chinese acrobat kind of way? Certainly the life of a graduate wife has its demands, but proper limits have a place, too. This is my plea for a simple life.

My husband is working while pursuing a doctorate full-time in Oxford. I’m a WAHM with a toddler and one on the way. I moonlight as a marketing consultant for two different companies while the baby sleeps. My family has a bizarre habit of wanting to eat everyday. Life is full.

But it’s not those occupational demands or our circumstances that make our days crazy or calm. I’m beginning to realize that peace and simplicity is a choice, not something that is handed to you—or not.

It’s in the attitudes I choose, the inspiration I uncover or ignore, the priorities and thoughts and conversations I pick to fill those moments and those hours that make the majority of my days, and—essentially—who I am.

Sure, it’s fun for people to ask “How do you do it all?” and feel some sense of accomplishment from the sheer number of things we are tackling in life right now. But we need to evaluate if we are carrying around more than is necessary– bordering on the ridiculous.  If so, what are my motivations. Approval? Security? Identity?

I’ve had the sense lately that I’ve been striving—but after what? To keep the plates spinning? I’ve done some serious evaluating of what things might need to go, what things I could do more efficiently, or by someone else, or in a simpler way. I want to strive after the things that  matter most to me—not just struggle to survive.

Do I really want my life to be a constant circus act, “in balance” but just barely, always flirting with dramatic collapse if one thing goes awry? I want to find the kind of balance that doesn’t call for a gaudy pink costume and isn’t performed for the sake of wowing the crowd. A grounded life, at home with my God and who He made me to be. Yes, I suppose I will need to keep at least some of the plates spinning, but I will try to cut back on the acrobatics.

I’m going to need help. I have no idea, really, how to simplify my life. In fact, on any given day, I have more things I’d like to add to it–a new friend I want to meet, a new language I want to learn, a place I want to visit, a book I want to write. There’s just not enough life to fit it all in at once. So, no easy solutions here. Just trying to keep it all in balance.

I’ve asked a few of my wise graduate wife friends how they manage to streamline their lives, in hopes of some inspiration. I life-hacked my way into their kitchens and day planners and daydreams in search of a few versions of normal. Their practical ideas for making life flourish on a daily basis encouraged me and I look forward to sharing some of their responses with you in the following weeks.

How do you do simplify life and keep your priorities in balance?