6 easy ways to fit in a 30 minute workout into a busy schedule

Hey! Happy New Year! How was your holiday? What did you get up to?

We had a great time. It was just us on the 25th and I made my Christmas usual – Nigerian fried rice with oven roasted turkey. Mmmmmm. Then we went to my god mother’s for dinner which was lovely. She always has lots of family and friends around, and I’ve caught up with them every year which makes up for my own family not living here with me. After the catch up, one of her nieces sent me a picture from Christmas three years ago where she was carrying my 4 year old who was only a toddler then. The photo really hit me because while I enjoyed the end of year meet-ups I’d subconsciously passed them off as just something that was nice to do during the holidays without realising that we were doing life together – this was my family. Amazing. 

New Year Resolutions. Did you bother making any this year? A friend put up a post on Facebook saying that everyone had given up on making new year resolutions since they are still running behind on 2014’s. LOL. Anyway, I’m not sure mine are resolutions – I prefer to call them my themes or goals for the year and you’ll find a couple of my posts this year featuring my themes for the year because I try to make my blog flow from my life – where I am now. 

My theme for this year is UNAFRAID. I want to let go of fear that holds me back. I want to go on an adventure to do those things I’ve been too scared to do before. With God in control, I never needed to fear. So I’m learning to trust Him intentionally this year and become UNAFRAID. 

I also want to keep up with my health goals but I don’t want them to rule me. I want to learn to love my body – it’s imperfections – the marks that childbirth left – the reminders that I’m a mom- the jiggles – I want to love them while I’m on the journey to my goal weight. I am never going to be the way I was before I had three gorgeous human beings. I’m making peace with the fact that I don’t need to be perfect like before (was I ever perfect to begin with?), I just want to be healthy. However, if I don’t learn to be happy now and flourish even though my body is not how I want it to be, I may never be happy because I may not achieve what I imagine I want to achieve. Imaginations do not match reality many times. I will achieve my goal weight, but the wrinkles and jiggles might still be there and in fact, with this thing called ageing I can be sure more wrinkles will appear over time. 

So my health goals are –

  • Sticking to serving sizes for different food groups, replacing biscuits (my downfall) with healthy home-baked goods and healthy snacks
  • Not letting food rule me. I want to overcome the FOMO (fear of missing out) on treats. I don’t have to taste everything in a party or at work morning tea. Or even at home. 
  • Committing to 30 minutes of exercise at least 5 times a week even if it’s just a brisk walk. 
  • Loving myself on the journey. Taking it easy and being kind to myself.
  • Asking God for help all the way. 

Here’s an info-graphic I created with 6 ways to fit in a 30 minute workout into a busy schedule. It’s possible babe. 

Dear Child, It’s not you. It’s me. Love, Mum

Recently I was chatting with a friend about my ‘season’ of stressing out over my first child and stressing said child out in the process.

What I could see – unzipped school bag. unzipped lunch box. food scraps littered throughout her bag. forgetting to do her chores. forgetting instructions I just gave her right now! unzipped lunch bag. unzipped lunch bag. unzipped lunch bag. unfinished lunches. unfinished morning tea. unzipped lunch bag causing unfinished food to spill into her bag.

I was a bit obsessed with the lunch bag OK? But in my defense – zips were created for a reason, right? Right. Everyone knows that. Everyone but my 7yr old. Or so I thought. I was obsessed with how much of a struggle it was for me to prepare her lunch & cut up her fruit because of my busy-working-mom-of-three schedule and so I expected that she would appreciate all my effort and reward me by licking everything up. I was obsessed with how much I juggled the budget & time to do my grocery shopping only for my precious fruit to end up in the bin. I was obsessed with a lot of things.

Well, I had a day off (as I do once a fortnight) and went to pick her up from school. I got there before the last bell so I stood outside her classroom door along with other moms, then I noticed many of the other moms zipping up their kid’s lunch bags and school bags. Oh, hang on…I thought, so I looked around at all the bags and pretty much all of them had unzipped lunch bags and the bags were all unzipped. Then it suddenly dawned on me – it must be a 7yr old thing, not just my 7yr old. It’s a stage! Of course it’s just a stage Nancy! She isn’t just being disobedient or trying to annoy me, they were probably enjoying their lunch breaks, loosing track of time (as I did when I was 7) and once the bell rang they would be rushing back to class. None of them would be thinking, “hey I better zip up my stuff first.” . She was just being a child. And the unfinished lunches? Well, maybe she was just full or didn’t like the food. 
This reminded me of the parenting book I reviewed here on the blog. The authors encouraged parents to distinguish between naughtiness & childishness which would then guide their response to different behaviours. Find the review here

Casting my mind back to how many times I had scolded her about these issues…and how her shoulders would droop afterward sobered me up a bit because I realised I was reprimanding her for being childish not for being naughty! Why didn’t I work this out & why was I so worked up?  Perhaps it’s because I’ve been sort of parenting in isolation. Working parents rarely have time to meet up with other parents to just catch up because even the weekends are busy with extracurricular activities, shopping, cleaning and prepping for the next week. However as a result of being isolated, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that the issues we face are unique to us. This has made me realise that it is important for me and my child that I make out time for play dates here and there and also just one-on-one time with other like minded moms to catch up on life, laugh at ourselves, share our challenges and encourage each other. We need to remind each other that we’re not alone, that being a mom is challenging but it’s also normal and that this too shall pass so we should enjoy the enjoyable and be patient with the not too enjoyables. 

I’ve got a new strategy now. Zips not being used? I just patiently wait for her to zip them up when I pick her up. Unfinished fruit? I just ask her to eat them when she gets home if they’re still OK, then I ask her what she would really like for fruit break the next day. Unfinished lunch? Well, I’m still working on that one, but I try to ignore it or say, “that’s OK” when she apologises and make a mental note to check her serving size with her the next day. In summary, I’m trying to breathe in, let go and remind myself that this is just a stage and I should enjoy what I can, reprimand only when it’s appropriate and remember that my kids are just children. 

Over to you – does this strike any cords? Please tell me that it’s not just me, and share what you’ve struggled with and how you’re approaching it. Mwah!

Making Space For What Really Matters To Me

It has been such a challenge to fit in everything I want/am required to do and this has been part of the reason I have been a bit quieter on the blog. A FIFO partner is something new in my mix of things to deal with these days and my way of coping with this initially was just getting by on doing the barest minimum and attempting to ignore all the other things I want to do which keep wriggling about and nagging me in my brain. This was as annoying as a pending university assignment and I knew that I had to attend to it sooner or later if only just to get some peace of mind.

After hiding my head under the sand for a while, I have finally acknowledged that dealing with a FIFO partner is going to be my life for the foreseeable future and I have to sit down and work out a plan that will allow me to be my best at work & home while fitting in my health, hobbies, blog and business. To work out this plan I had to reevaluate my priorities, establish what is important and what has to be moved to the bottom of the list. My list and priorities looked like this:

  1. Flourishing in spirit, mind & body
  2. My Family & home:
    • Raising kids who are healthy in mind, body & spirit
    • Creating a warm, accepting, happy and peaceful atmosphere in my home
    • A clean & tidy home
    • Cooking healthy meals that I can knock over within 30mins – 1hr max.
    • Being a patient, encouraging, sane, approachable and realistic parent.
  3. My Work:
    • Staying motivated at work
    • Challenging myself to grow my role rather than cruising at the current level
    • Developing myself and my team to prepare for undertaking higher responsibilities
  4. My Blog:
    • Maintaining regular engaging posts
    • Growing my readership
    • Achieving the purpose of my blog
  5. Our Business
  6. My hobbies

The second step after establishing my priorities was to work out why I was currently struggling to fit these into my schedule. Identifying the challenges enabled me to come up with different possible options to get around them.  Here are a few-

Exercise

My challenge with exercise was that finding myself as a sole carer sometimes meant being unable to leave the kids and go for an early morning walk. Also working full-time meant I finished work when the kids were due to be picked up from childcare and therefore unable to go to the gym or indulge in an evening walk. To work around this challenge I had a couple of options:

  • Exercise videos I can do at home (this would include YouTube, exercise apps, DVD) 
  • Exercising during my work breaks
  • Getting in more steps at work by using stairs instead of lifts
  • Various combinations of the above points

Here’s what is working for me:

  1. 15 minute cardio in the morning. I currently have a Demi Pair (part time Au Pair) which affords me time to go out for a quick walk in the morning. These days I am doing the HIIT method so I jog or run for 1 minute and then walk for 1 minute. I am working at increasing the jog for 2 minutes each time. When I don’t have my Demi or on rainy days, I use the Workout Trainer App for a 15 minute cardio in my garage. I’ve inserted a screenshot below
  2. 10 minute brisk walk during my morning tea break. I use the opportunity to go and check my PO Box too.
  3. 10 minute brisk walk during my afternoon tea break.

So in total I am ending up with 35 minutes of physical activity per workday.

I also do a Kegel exercise when I come back from my morning, lunch and afternoon tea breaks. I use the PFEI Kegel trainer app. Timing this immediately after my walks gives me a routine I can remember and stick to.

 

Work

I have to be intentional about growing my role and developing myself so I have set aside time in my diary to work on my appraisal objectives and also to seek out and engage on activities and training that will help me grow to the next level. I read articles on how to grow your role without a promotion and I am working on the tips and will share the article here on the blog.

Blog

I was finding that when I got home I was tired from being on the computer all day at work so I was lagging behind on my posts just because I could not bring myself to go and sit at the study computer or even power up the laptop. The following strategies have helped me:

  1. Introducing the 15 minute cardio in the morning means I can now use 30 minutes of my break time to work on my blog and then use another 15 minutes for a stroll or for meditation. Previously I used up all my break for walks.
  2. I installed my blog app on my phone so I could upload pics and also start blog posts once I think of them on the go. Also, I could sit on my bed at night or at the couch and type up a blog post without having to switch on the computer.

So just changing around how I am using my time has allowed me to fit more in without having to give up one activity over the other.

Family

I have scheduled a specific day for meal planning and doing some of my grocery shop online so I could pick them up on the weekend through the drive through with the kids in the car. This reduces the time I have to drag three kids about in the shop in between swim lessons and has made things much easier for me. Also, developing themes for my menu plan make it easier for me to find recipes that fit within my objectives. I will touch more on this when I share a 5-2 friendly meal plan this week.
Shopping fortnightly and being careful about accepting invitations to parties, etc frees up every other weekend for me to take things easy with the kids and do some activities with them which further my family objectives. Not having to worry about going to the shop or anywhere else makes it easier for me to be relaxed, make some pancakes, go to the library, watch a movie or read books together. The kids love these weekends.

To wrap up, reviewing my priorities, reevaluating the challenges, rethinking my strategies and reshuffling my activities creatively has helped me make space for things that matter to me. Over to you now, have you had to struggle with making time for things that matter to you? How have you approached them? Let me know in the comments or by email.

Why You Should Quit Worrying About Work-Life Balance

It’s almost Christmas! Sorry to do this to you, but really, where has the time gone? I can’t believe it’s August. Each year the retailers keep pushing the boundaries on how early they put up the Christmas decorations, and I have also noticed that some neighbours couldn’t be bothered to take down last year’s Christmas lights, so they just left them up. I don’t blame them seeing that it comes around so quickly. 
Has the time gone quickly for you too? Many of us who are working and/or doing business and/or studying find that time has gone quick because we’ve been super busy running from pillar to post and barely catching our breath on the weekend before we go on the grind again. Try adding the daily struggle to maintain a functioning home, catch up on our social engagements and achieve a healthy mind/body/spirit and we easily find ourselves over-committed, stretched too thin, fatigued and stressed. We find ourselves wondering if it will ever get better and how long we can keep up this pace?  

Each time I have an annual review one of the topics we discuss is work/life balance. However, when we drill down into the subject, is it possible to achieve work/life balance? Some experts believe that the phrase itself is a fallacy because of the assumption that always have to make trade-offs among the four major compartments of our lives –

  1. work/business/school
  2. home/family
  3. community including friends, neighbours and social groups
  4. self (spirit, mind, body)

Perhaps the term work/life balance stems from the assumption that work is bad and life is good hence the need for a balance in the first instance. This is problematic because we spend a lot of our time at work which means that for some, most of their time is burdensome and this literally translates to being tired of working and creates pressure for our holidays/weekends to compensate for all the negative energy (source). 

A more realistic alternative is to integrate and foster harmony among these four aspects of life.  Some people would explain this as “life is work, work is life.” (source).
Various self leadership skills are very important to be able to achieve this alignment and they fall within the following four headings (source). 

Authenticity

Leadership skills in authenticity focus on enabling us to be and act real by clarifying what’s really important regardless of where we are or what we’re doing. To be authentic we need answers to the following questions:

  • What are my values? What really matters to me?
  • Do I embody my values consistently? How can I do this more?
  • Do my actions align with my values? How can I make sure that they do?
  • What is my legacy? How often do I envision this?
  • How am I holding myself accountable?

There are some exercises that help find these answers and you can find them on www.myfourcircles.com

Integrity

Skills in self leadership in integrity zoom in on respecting the fact that you are one whole person playing many roles and also encouraging others to view you this way. This requires us to:

  • Clarify expectations – In many of our relationships expectations will be implicit and although they have not been spelled out we can be judged if we fail to meet them and this can impact on trust. 
  • Build & maintain supportive networks – The support of the people around us help us emotionally & other ways to be whole people and to play our different roles better. 
  • Learn how to apply all your resources – this involves transferring & using knowledge, contacts, talents and skills [which may have been built up in one aspect of your life] to other areas of your life. 
  • Learn how to manage boundaries smartly– this involves experimenting with what areas of your life you need to separate and other areas you can merge. Professor Friedman from Wharton’s Leadership Program calls this segment and merge. For example in order to create a separation you might notice that chat notifications from business associates during the night is breaking your sleep, so switching mobiles off when going to bed for some time might be a start. Then trying a new way to merge aspects of your life might be bringing your partner/kids for an outdoor game organised by your work colleagues. Notice what works and what doesn’t. 

Creativity

This involves innovation that helps in integrating the four different aspects of your life. To be able to achieve this you need to answer these questions:

  • Am I getting the results I need?
  • How can I resolve conflicts between the four aspects of my life?
  • What is the status quo? Should it be the status quo?
  • Are there any new ways of doing the things I’m currently doing? 
  • How can I embrace change with courage?
  • How can I create a culture of innovation around me?

Just like a craft, we get better at leading our lives by practice. As John Irving writes, find a way of life you love and have the courage to live it.