A couple of years ago my brother and sister in-law got me this awesome custom T with those three words in bold across the front. Those three words, in a simplistic way, summarized where my life was at. As I pulled it out of my closet recently, it got me reflecting on achieving balance in life and the amazing journey it has been and continues to be.
Lets look at each of these individually.
Many of you know that being co-owner and coach at Quantum isn’t my only job. Since we opened over 6 years ago I have also worked full time at the University Health Network in Toronto. My home base there is infection prevention and control, and my work is focused on quality and safety concerns, organizational development and culture change in healthcare.
I have worked there for over 10 years and am so fortunate that I truly enjoy what I do! When people ask how I’ve managed the two demanding jobs, I often respond that first and foremost you have to really love what you do. I also could not have done it without the incredible support of family, friends and of course my work-husband Peter. We have been able to build Quantum into the amazing training facility and community it is today. While I haven’t always been able to put in the time I’ve wanted, we’ve worked out a balance that has allowed me to do both.
Is this set up ideal? Not at all! It’s been really hard at times. For many years simply getting enough sleep was so hard (my current 8:30pm bedtime helps with that).
When we first opened I worked 14hr days regularly and it took a toll. I didn’t have as much time to see friends and family, my sleep patterns got messed up, and all too often I heard myself (and still do) saying ‘sorry I can’t make it, I have to be at the gym’.
But that was the risk I was willing to take, with the support of my family, on opening a small business. I wanted to take the risk because I was (and am) so passionate about what we could bring to the Crossfit community.
At the same time I saw a future in my career at the hospital that I was not prepared to let go of and it provided some financial stability so that we could focus on growing the business. Over the years many people have asked when I will choose one over the other, and I still haven’t been able to make that choice.
I have found a better balance though. It’s a work in progress.
Just the other day, a colleague and friend gave me some great advice about that. She told me to list out all of things I want more of in my life, and also all the things I wanted less of. They can be as simple as more laughter or more time with family.
Once you have the list, come up with ways of achieving even just one or two things to start shifting that balance. My experience has shown that you don’t need a huge overhaul. Focus on the things that you have total control over and start there. I think of this as the 15% solution. In general a lot of what happens to and around us is out of our control. However, what you can control can have enormous impact. Learn where that sphere of influence lies and focus on small incremental change.
It’s amazing what can happen when you do this. This kind of lifestyle is one that I chose and working that many hours is not something to brag about. It’s the path I chose, it has worked for me and I have learned a lot about myself in the process.
This is such an important part of my life. I’m not just talking about maxing out my squat and deadlift or competing in powerlifting. For the purposes of this blog I’ll broaden this word to MOVE. What I have learned over the years is that I simply function and feel better the more I move.
About 10 years ago that meant long distance running. If I wasn’t putting in the km’s and lots of volume I wasn’t moving enough. Over the years though, I’ve learned that I don’t need to be out running for two hours or lifting weights for three. What I need is to be active every day (cycling to work when I can, extra walks and my standing desk help with this for my office job), lift heavy things regularly (feeling strong physically and mentally) and move quickly sometimes too (insert interval work, metcons and even the occasional FBomb Friday at Quantum).
Don’t get me wrong, lifting and competing is still important to me. I love the camaraderie of the sport and the personal challenge it brings me. The key is that I have found balance with it.
When these things are aligned I feel my best. I’m more productive at work, a better partner, friend, family member and co-worker. The biggest change mentally over the years has probably been less of a focus on volume, more of a focus on quality and always challenging myself to try new things. My foray into achieving a handstand is just one example. This was and is a challenge mentally and physically for me. It added a totally new area of focus into my training routine.
Besides the challenge of it, movement helps centre me. It gives me focus and energy. It’s also helped me get stay in tune with my body, as I continue to learning how to listen to my body, adjust my training, and incorporate purposeful rest and mobility at the right times.
I’m excited to see what movement for me looks like in the future (I don’t see any shift away from barbells any time soon ☺)
Those who know me know that I love a day where I can be in my Thuggie (if you don’t know what these are you should. Check them out here. They’re ridiculously comfortable and just plain ridiculous www.thuggies.com) watch some Netflix, relax with Sara and our cat Blanche and just simply have some quiet time. This time is essential. It helps me regenerate.
Chill also means time with family and friends. Babysitting my nieces, cottage weekends, family dinners, walks in the park. For me, it’s about balance between time alone and time with others. They all nourish me in different ways.
While finding this balance has been hard, it has been totally worth it! What a great feeling when it all aligns.
WORK, LIFT, CHILL. My brother and sister-in law know me so well!! All three are core elements of my day to day. I work hard at finding balance which can be really hard and certainly is never perfect. I know I have made certain choices that have led me to where I am and I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m pretty lucky to be here and am excited to see how these three things evolve as time goes on.