Juggling a Balanced Life: The Exercise

the exercise

I love working out. I love to sweat. I love how strong I feel after completing a hardcore workout – like I can take on anything.

The problem is finding the time to work up a sweat.

To be honest, I took the time factor for granted in so many areas of my life before I had kids. But once the kids were here, life continues to roll on and something had to give. Working out was one of the first things to go.

I was an athlete. I guess I still am an athlete. My body is used to exercise and I find that it craves movement. Lately, the cravings have been so intense that I have decided that somehow, someway I must fit workouts into my schedule.

I keep a pretty detailed planner, so I sat down to search for time to exercise. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I would have to wake up at 4:30am in order to break a sweat the way I want to.   It took even less time for me to know that this would be a bad idea. I have to work around people…and be nice…and be compassionate. I know myself well enough to know that if I got up at that hour I would not be fit to enter society. I would turn into a bear. I would be in shape, but I would be a bear nonetheless.

I greatly admire the men and women who are able to successfully wake up hours before the sun in order to workout.  For a few days I did attempt to slowly adjust my morning schedule to see if I could legitimately wake up earlier.

This is how it went:

Day 1: Nah.

Day 2: The wind howled and sounded cold. I rolled over and stayed warm in bed. It didn’t seem to matter that I was going to workout indoors.

Day 3: I did wake up earlier, but I used that time to go to the bathroom by myself.

Day 4: The boys woke up early so I took care of them instead.

Day 5: Nope.

And that’s as far as that challenge went.

This never used to be a problem for me, but it was a problem in other ways. When I was younger, I would do whatever was necessary to get a workout in. I was obsessed, and in some ways things got a little scary. I was constantly practicing for sports, and then when I was done with my playing days I was terrified that I was going to gain weight so I determined that I would not become sedentary. I would get up and run before classes and then I would stop at the gym after classes in college. I knew exactly how many calories were going in and how many I was burning. There were days when it was all I could think about. Looking back, I firmly believe that I had a type of eating/exercising disorder. Through prayer and God’s grace, I have been able to break that cycle of negative thinking. But it has been nothing short of an uphill battle.

Determined to find a way to balance exercise with limited time, I have begun to do Pilates in the evenings while the boys are winding down.  Usually after their bathtime and before bedtime, they like to watch TV.  I let them enjoy a show and I get on the floor and run through a variety of movements that work my abs, thighs, and butt.  The reality of this situation is that I am planking with a 4- and 2-year-old on my back.  I am doing sit-ups with a toddler trying to crawl through my legs, and I am doing leg-lifts while trying to avoid kicking one or both of them in the face.  But the fact of the matter is, I am doing it.

I recognize my need to take care of my body, but now I recognize how important it is to keep a balanced view of what is healthy and what is necessary.  I am no longer training for anything, so attempting to do two-a-day workouts or beating myself up for missing a day of exercise because something suddenly came up just doesn’t make sense.  What does make sense is coming up with creative ways to incorporate exercise into the life that I already live.  I have found that summer is the best time to do this.  I am naturally more energized this time of year and we are always outside.  We have races in the backyard, I push and push and push the kids on the swings, and we love to go swimming.  Would I love to be able to go out and run several miles every evening?  Yes!  But that just doesn’t coincide with my life at the moment.  Someday, my kids will be able to handle themselves while I run, but today is not that day.

Today I must juggle the act of exercise with the more important job of motherhood.   Right now, a sick child takes precedence over my abs.  Catching up with my kids after a long day at work comes before a run.  I know that choosing sleep over exercise in the morning is an excuse/cop-out, but most days it trumps Jillian Michael’s 30-day Shred.  So I continue to balance things out by power-walking during my lunch break and doing strengthening exercises with the the ‘help’ of the kids in the evenings.  I know that eventually I will find a lasting routine to work up a sweat and juggle all of my other responsibilities.

Don’t forget to check out the ways I attempt to juggle a balanced life when it comes to food and clothing!


Just Your Typical Thursday Night

By the time Thursday night rolls around, I’m just done. Thursday night means I have already put in four full days of work and am a stones throw away from the weekend. Thursday night means I’m running low on groceries as well as the motivation to cook the food I do have. Thursday night means keeping it simple.

Except tonight was anything but simple.

As I was walking into the house, my bedroom window opened and both of my kids were yelling out of it. My oldest was loudly adding another item to his ever-growing birthday wish list. It should be noted that his birthday is two months away. My youngest was pressing his face against the screen to make funny faces at me. Welcome home, Mom!

Just as my husband was leaving for work, my oldest comes down the stairs and shares that he has had an accident. Thankfully, he changed himself and put the dirty clothes in the hamper for me. Usually I am handed the mess before I am aware that it’s urine-soaked pants I am holding.

I decided to make something easy and the boys and I agree that having breakfast for dinner sounds good. I break out the griddle and start to cook some bacon. Unfortunately, I didn’t change out of my work clothes – a decision I immediately came to regret. The bacon was really sizzling and when it was done I went to dump the large amount of grease that was produced at the same time my youngest rounded the corner and scared me. I flinched and spilled all of the bacon grease on the floor.

As I tried to stiff-arm my son to protect him from running through the grease, I got caught up in the mess, wiped out, and took a trip straight to Splitsville. While struggling to get up, I fell not once, not twice, but three more times in the grease. I made it to my cleaning cupboard where I grabbed a cloth and some cleaner. After making my way back to the mess, I rotated between bending over to scrub the floor and jumping back up to make sure that the eggs didn’t burn. It was as if I was completing the most awkward set of burpees as I scrubbed the floor and checked on dinner. But that’s how my burpees look anyway – nice and awkward.

At this point, I am kicking myself for not having any cameras installed in our house to capture this madness. Between the boys and I, we are sure to win a prize on ‘America’s Funniest Home Videos.’ That $10,000 prize would pay off my student loan! At least I can laugh at myself.

The boys are thrilled that we are eating bacon. My oldest declares that it is delicious and he wishes our house always smelled like this. My clothes will likely never get the smell of bacon grease out of them, but that’s neither here nor there.

After dinner, the boys request to watch a movie in our room just to shake things up a bit. They choose ‘Tangled’ – a rendition of Rapunzel. We have watched this so much this winter that I believe I am developing a crush on Flynn Rider, the handsome hero. Regardless, the movie was short-lived because the boys started fighting and my youngest was pushed off the bed and missed hitting his head on my dresser by the smallest of margins (he was fine). Now that my heart was racing we went downstairs so the boys could color and I could workout.

I have every intention of working out in the morning, but I hate getting up when it’s cold and dark. This morning, I heard the wind howl when I was to get up and exercise so I just rolled over and fell back to sleep. As I’m on the floor doing some Pilates, I notice that there are crumbs everywhere which is disheartening considering how often I vacuum. I didn’t have long to dwell on it because my youngest fell off of his chair while coloring. What is going on tonight!? Again, he is okay, but I only got to exercise half of my body.

I take a deep breath and go to my happy place.


After giving the kids a bath that involved too much of the water landing on the outside of the tub, we grabbed a snack, watch some Octonauts, and called it a night.  I managed to work out the other half of my body before allowing myself to sit down.  Once the boys were in bed, I turned on The Biggest Loser and realized that burpees are awkward for everyone.

Yep, just your typical Thursday night.