Finding Balance: Where Do I Begin?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
This is the first in a series about how to find the balance between work, family and your own health and fitness goals.

Starting over is hard. You had a regular exercise routine, a healthy diet and were working toward your health and fitness goals. Then life got in the way. Maybe you got off track because you got busy at work, bought a new house or if you're like me, had a new baby. Your own goals took a backseat to other priorities, and some of those old habits started to creep back into your life. Now the new year has you ready to make a fresh start and find the time to put yourself first. But the question becomes: Where do you begin?

If you're like me, you know that taking care of yourself will make you a better wife, mom, daughter, insert your own title here. But somehow, when I'm surrounded by mouths that need to be fed, diapers that need to be changed, and laundry that needs to be folded, I don't take time to think about myself and what I need. With that in mind, I've decided to set some goals for myself, both short term and long term for the coming year. By making a plan for where I want to go and how I'm going to get there, I'm much more likely to follow through.

Running is my passion. It helps me relieve stress and feel strong (both physically and mentally), which is why one of my goals is to run a marathon this fall. This is something I'm doing for myself, but it's also for my kids because I hope they'll become inspired to run with me someday. The marathon is my long-term goal, I'm going to follow a training plan to help me prepare for the race, and I've also set some short-term goals to run a 15K and half marathon in the spring. By setting a long-term goal, creating a detailed plan of how I'm going to reach it and some short term steps along the way, I'm setting a good path for success. I also need to get agreement from the important people in my life that they will support me as I work toward my goals. For example, my husband has agreed to watch the kids while I go out for my long runs (which can be quite lengthy since I'm not a fast runner).

When I told my husband that I was going to start writing this series, he snickered. "What's so funny?" I asked. "Don't you think it's a little ironic that you'll be giving people advice about finding balance when you have such a hard time doing that yourself?" It's true; I'm not good at putting myself first or finding the balance between being a wife, a mom and being me. But I'm working on getting better at it. And for those of you who also struggle with finding the balance, maybe we can work on it together.

Setting my goals and developing a plan is my first step toward finding the balance. Do you struggle to find a balance in your own life? If so, what's your first step going to be?

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Ah yes...this happened to me last year. I can't think of a specific reason why I slacked off a bit, but I did. Then I got bronchitis and was sick for 2 weeks at the beginning of December..lots of eating and no exercise. My clothes were beginning to get snug again, but there was NO WAY I was going back to where I was before.

I decided I needed to evaluate my goals and begin this again. I'm in the process now and it's working. I over eat from time to time, but I do OK most of the time. I changed my exercise routine a bit to get it fresh again and I haven't missed any in 2008. Now that the weather is slightly better (above 10 degrees), I've been getting out for my walks more often, too.

I have some new personal goals that keep me motivated as well. I check them weekly and adjust as needed. Report
Your husband made an interesting comment. I have a friend who is a couples therapist who's been divorced twice. It is my firm belief you learn far more from making mistakes than you can taking classes or doing things correctly. You go, girl! Report
No matter how hard we try to stay on track, life will always get in the way. The important thing is that we all remember that it doesn't make us failures. We need to stumble through whatever life throws us doing the best we can even if it is not good enough, and when we come back up for air, we get right back on our plan. When I get thrown a curve ball, my goal is to try to do the least amount of damage possible until I'm able to get my life under control again. Then I hop right back on track. That's one of the great things about Sparkpeople. Everything is right there when you are restart your plan! Report
Thank you thank you thank you..I completely lost the plot the last few weeks, kidding myself that I had not undone any of the good that I have achieved. Then the sun came out and a trip the beach with the kids..flash forward to 2 months from now when I can't be on the beach in jeans!! So I am trying to get back on track- I was back to working out yesterday - not for long, but it was a start and I was even able to swim which always clears my mind. So as with all of you its baby steps. I won't say the light is back on totally, but its a glimmer so I need to make it brighter...find time for me so that I can be a happier person when my time is everyone elses... Report
I am starting over. My father died on January 1st. I've spent most of the month of January helping my mother close his business in another town. I never hit a gym once and my diet consisted of the food people brought to my parents' home. My baby step goals are to get to the gym three times this week and eat at least one vegetable a day. Then I'll work back into what had become my routine, altered somewhat, since I'm still going home on the weekends. Report
Yes, I have gone through this as well. I had gotten to goal weight by December 2007. Throughout 2008 between a huge responsibility as team leader to the largest SP Class team, a surgery in July and the proverbial falling off the saddle, I regained 20 pounds by the middle of January 2009. At least through it all I continued to get in at least 20 eight ounce cups water every day.
First thing I did was stop eating the Peanut M&M's, then set about to reduce some of my responsibilites. I went back to eating clean and have been getting back to the gym every other day. I am back to running and have seen a 7# loss in just over 2 weeks.
Prioritizing and making SURE that, no matter what, I get time to do what I NEED to do in order to see the goals that I want.
In the meantime I have a sister who is home schooling, started working from home and is having a HUGE problem of prioritizing because EACH of her responsibilities IS so great. But, she will find a balance as well. Sometimes, it just takes a little time to find it.
The trick is to not "give up" - be determined and you will find it. Report
"Dum spiro, spero." While I breathe, I hope. Report
I logged in today to start over. Thanks for the encouragment. Balance has always been a struggle for me. My "first step" is to walk on my lunch hour to relieve the stress. Thanks. Report
It is hard to find balance, especially when you are responsible for others like kids, hubby, family pets. I had to get over feeling guilty for taking time for me. I felt selfish at first, but now I know it's not and it's something I need to do to make me happy. And that makes everything else better for everybody. Report
I logged in, this is the first thing I saw! I need this! I had lost 23 lbs. and since Thanksgiving have pretty much gained it all back. Hardly any trips to gym, horrendous diet, couch potato--all things bad for me. But here I go "New short and long term goals" TODAY!!!!!!!!!! Report
Great article and thoughts! My goal is to create a schedule a week at a time.

Annie Report
I think when you're taking baby steps again you're on the right track. Anyone taking baby steps can give advice for what works for them. You are just as important as the person who has already finished. Just like running if you quit you don't finish. If you've run before and are running again you can give advice. Your husband is so wrong about who should give advice. Has he always had it easy? Then maybe he doesn't see the value of baby steps. Report