Being an athlete used to be my top priority. Back in the days when being an athlete was one of the only things I had to do. It is still near the top of my list, but sometimes my behavior indicates otherwise. It used to be so easy. And now it’s not. Now, I am a working mother running my own business with a list a mile long of things I need to accomplish each day.
I don’t point this out to complain or make excuses, and by no means does this make me unique. I am one of hundreds of thousands just trying to make it all work.
Just like every other mother, I want to be the best parent possible, but often find that my commitment to motherhood directly conflicts with my other goals.
I want to continue to be the woman I set out to be before kids… and yet, I want to be everything and more to this little person who has become the center of my universe.
At first, I didn't want to admit that becoming a parent changes things, changes you. And, it’s been a process, believe me. I fought the change by trying to do everything at full tilt. But the reality is, that’s just not possible. Something is always going to have to give – and that’s ok. The key is knowing that you can only do one thing at a time, accepting that fact, and creating new habits to accommodate for your new normal.
I wish I could say I’ve cracked the work/life balance code, but even after two and a half years into motherhood I still feel like I have a long way to go. Sometimes I’m on top of my game - I work later at night than I used to, I negotiate with my husband on who does what and when. We establish a good routine but inevitably something changes – a new sleeping schedule, a new employee, a sick kid, a work trip, etc. I go from kicking ass to getting my ass kicked in less than 24 hours.
Running a business and raising a child are similar in a lot of ways - each constantly evolving and seeming to require 100% of my attention 100% of the time.
The question is, how do we keep up? How do we incorporate yet another new thing into the mix? How do we stay true to ourselves while giving so much to something (or someone) else?
Pre-kid, I used to cook all the time. I kept a food journal. I weighed and measured everything I ate. On Sundays I prepped several healthy lunches for myself in advance of the upcoming week in order to support my goal of being a competitive athlete. On most weekdays I came home from work at 6 with a fresh bag of groceries and a bottle of wine. My dinner prep time was also my zen time, and sitting down in front of a home-cooked meal with my husband was our bonding time.
You can probably imagine what dinner looks like these days. It’s gone from zen to complete chaos. The formerly creative paleo menu now mostly consists of chicken a la whatever-is-in-the-fridge because I haven’t had time to shop. The idea of a food journal is laughable. And forget quiet bonding time with my husband, somehow it seems to take all of our energy just to get our extremely picky child to eat.
I have a strong desire to get back to competing, but I can't simply go back to my old routine. It’s time to create a new routine that supports my goals while embracing the beautiful chaos that is family life.
I read a study recently that claims it only take 5 days to create a new habit, or at least take steps toward creating one. Dr. Fogg seems to understand how to help busy people create new habits and make them stick. I decided I’m going to take some of his advice into consideration. Maybe Dr. Fogg can help me get my nutrition back under control so I can get back into competitive athletics.
Step 1: Embrace the Change
There are definitely frustrations that arise when aspects of our “old life” are stripped away. First and foremost we need to accept our new reality and even go so far as to find beauty in it. Wine and small talk are no more, but now we get to create new memories as a family of three.
Step 2: Think Small
Make a new paleo dish every night of the week and meal prep on Sunday? No no. For now I will commit simply to one or two fresh paleo meals per week in order to figure out this new routine. Chicken a la whatever 3 nights a week as opposed to 5 is a great start!
Step 3: Find Yourself an Anchor
Habits becomes a habits when they become naturally part of your routine. Picking my son up from school on Monday and Wednesday will be my anchor. New habits are formed by doing something new after doing something old. After I pick up my son, we will go to the grocery store and stock up on fresh, paleo-friendly ingredients. So far so good. Sounds pretty simple.
Step 4: Force Yourself to Celebrate
To me, this seems like the easiest part. Make myself a cocktail after I unpack the groceries? This is the best challenge I have ever done! Oh wait, sorry. I misunderstood what the doc meant by ‘celebrate’. I suppose I can settle for patting myself on the back or high five from a two-year-old.
"The emotion of celebration glues in the tiny habit," says Fogg.
Noted. Fresh groceries are a victory and shall be treated as such.
In 5 days, let’s see how far I get. If I can keep the fridge stocked with fresh and healthy ingredients, then I can put something we’re all excited about on the table for dinner a few nights per week. My new habit will fill our bellies, feed my soul, and help me begin to reclaim my athleticism.
I am aware that this is a small step. At this rate, getting my competitive edge back will be a long process. I’m far from the finish line, but that’s okay because I know this is a step in the right direction.
It’s important to remember that we can be reunited with all the parts of ourselves that we love if we are willing to put forth the effort to create new habits. We may have to let go of our old routines, but we don’t have to let go of our goals. It’s time to forge a new path… rocky and slow as it may be.
What new habit have you been trying to make stick?
What have you done about it?