4th of July Fun & “Doing It All”

I’m a bit behind in blogging (as per usual) which nicely lends itself to my 2nd topic today: “doing it all.”  But first, a 4th of July recap, because man, this was a FUN one.

I like to remember back to what I did last year and in years prior for holidays like this one, Christmas, Thanksgiving, etc.  Last year’s 4th included a cranky baby but swimming and great times with some friends JP and AJ, who I hadn’t seen much since college.  The year before we were in Rome, Italy for a 48-hour weekend getaway… and the year before that, I was at the end of my 15-month stint in Iraq.  I’m just always amazed at the course life takes, and how many different places we’ve seen thru the years.

This 4th of July was special because my parents came all week to watch G-man for us while the daycare took their summer break.  I signed my dad and me up for the local 5K, and it always makes it more exciting to run with a loved one.  We discussed our strategies and decided we would start off together around a 9:30 pace.  Well, we couldn’t go any slower than 9 min/mi, but it ended up working out.  I ran with Dad til the 1/2 way point (after passing 2 very fit older folks–how can you run that fast in your 70’s?!?!) then I increased my speed.  Finished just under 27 min, which was my goal.  All the speed work has been paying off!  Someday I’d love to beat my PR of 24:45, or even shoot for faster than that, but 8:41/mi avg is good with me 🙂  Dad came in less than 2 min after me.  Overall, an awesome time!  Here we are at the start:

We came home and refueled (ie. beers!) and chilled for a bit, then Mom and I got going on our baked beans, macaroni salad, and fruit salad for dinner.  After Gabe’s nap, we headed to the local pool and had a blast splashing around!  That was Gabriel’s first time at the outdoor kiddie pool and he did great.  It didn’t bug him too much when he fell and went under water.  Plus it was nice to have extra help so two of us could keep up with the lil guy, and one could take pics!  Here’s a few of my faves from that day:

The icing on the cake was Javi grilled some burgers and hot dogs for us while we swam, so dinner was ready to go when we got home.  What a feast!  Too bad I didn’t get a pic–but the memories are there 😉  We had Hershey’s cake for some sweetness afterwards. (Mom and I didn’t want to heat up the oven to make pie). Delish!  At the end of the night, Javi put on a mini-fireworks display for us (and I forgot to download those pics… bummer!)  It was all so much fun to enjoy with each other.

Here’s the whole day in a collage/nutshell:

So on to my next topic: “doing it all.”  I recently read this article about how women can’t have it all.  I’m not going to critique it, but I agree with much of what was said.  It is tough to balance a career and a family, that’s certain.  But my topic is DOING it all, not having it all.  Most of us have both, don’t we?  We have jobs and we have family.  How do you DO both well?  It’s just making time for everything that is important to you.  My #1, and vastly higher than the rest of the list, is my family, which includes my marriage and being a great mom, daughter, sister, cousin, friend. My job, exercise, photography/hobbies, keeping a clean house and cooking, all come after the fam.  We all juggle many of these “balls” in the air, and some are more important to keep going than others.  I can drop the housework and cooking in a heartbeat and not miss a step, but if one category starts to take over (working late, for example)–this can make it very difficult to keep life in balance.

I’ve had several friends ask how I “do it all”–and I’m not sure that is the best term–so I want to share what I do to stayed balanced and focused.  These aren’t secrets, but I want to share because I can help just one person, it will be worth it.  I’ve had many people helping me lately, be it friends, mentors, coaches, or the biggest help of all, my husband and parents.  None of us is an island, and I certainly would not be successful without them.

So here’s my list of stay-healthy-and-balanced ‘tricks:’

1.  Diet & exercise.  I can’t say enough how important it is to get these 2 things right.  When I was a SAHM, I didn’t eat that much because I thought “I’m at home all day watching a baby, I don’t need to eat extra food.”  Big mistake.  Consequently, I was almost always dragging due to lack of energy, and my workouts suffered–if I even made it to the gym at all.  My mood was awful too, coupled with the intermittent sleep or lack thereof.  I probably didn’t drink enough either.  When I started the 10 day challenge, I realized how great I feel when I drink enough water and eat enough (and the right types of) food.  Some foods/drinks I have everyday or nearly everyday: eggs, bread, cereal, fruits, veggies, yogurt, mixed nuts.  I’ve cut back on sugar but still have some, and I’ve decreased protein and increased carbs–the runner’s diet.  This works for me, but you have to find what works for you.

As far as exercise, I aim for at least 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week, which is only 2.5 hours.  Last week I did over 4 hours.  It’s not the time though, it’s how you spend it: do you get your heart rate up? Do you challenge yourself?  I’ve found that by working hard and striving to be better can go a very long way towards how you look and feel.  When I gained 50 lbs with Gabe, I thought it might be impossible to get back to the way I was before.  Now I am back and possibly even better–with hard work, anything is possible!  Training for a triathlon and a marathon is also great motivation: I have goals and I’m working hard to meet them.  Doing 3 events (swim, bike, run) helps work different muscle group and keep things interesting.  Again, this is what works for me.  I also try to throw in ab exercises and others like pull-ups and lunges, at least once a week, but it doesn’t always happen.

2.  Rest.  I aim for 7-9 hours of sleep, to let my mind and body recover.  This means having to let go of other things I want/need to do like clean up the house, read for leisure, surf the ‘net, etc.  I can’t focus very well at work without adequate sleep, and I can’t push my body without adequate rest.  Many people downplay the importance of sleep but for me, it’s essential.

3.  Other tricks that help: I freeze meals then re-heat at dinnertime for a speedy dinner without the fuss.  I talk on speakerphone to friends/family while driving to/from work.  I wake up early on Sundays to have my “me” time–my long run.  Last week I “bonked”–didn’t refuel enough after Saturday’s training.  Learned my lesson, and hopefully tomorrow’s won’t be bad.  Normally my long runs leave me feeling energized and relaxed, so it’s definitely something I’m going to continue.  What else is helpful for staying on top of everything… loading the car with gym clothes/Gabe’s stuff the night before, selecting my outfit the night before, and using my Outlook calendar to remind myself of things I need to do (color-coding also helps).  Getting up and moving around often is good for the body, and good for the mind to get a change of scenery.  I rarely watch TV these days–not much on, and not a high priority.  I give that up because playing with Gabe is more important to me.

I’m not saying I have it all together–things often do fall apart.  But the little things I have picked up from all you helpful friends and family have greatly helped me to enjoy my life more and reach for my dreams.

Are there any “secrets” or tips you would like to share??? I would love to hear how you “do it all” 🙂   Til next time!

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2 Responses to 4th of July Fun & “Doing It All”

  1. V, totally agree. One thing I started doing is after LIzzie goes to bed I give myself a little time limit for picking up and then that’s it. So I say ok I have 30 minutes to pick up and whatever is not picked up at that point is going to wait till tomorrow. Otherwise, I would never having any down time. Plus it is amazing how much you can accomplish in 30 minutes. I think my competitive spirit takes over because I’d hate to leave a task unfinished so I’m extra motivated to meet my time limit with time to spare.

  2. Pingback: Hot & Cold | 18 months old | Runnin' Mom

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