Thursday, April 4, 2013

Shifting Priorities

I am a great schedule follower. Give me a checklist of what needs to be done each day and I will go right through the list; give me a calendar with a structured routine and I will cross off every day like a champ.  While this may sound like an excellent trait to have (and it can be) there is one problem – life does not always cooperate with our best laid plans or schedules.  I am not talking about the type of situation where something random comes up and you have to change your plans for a week; even a type A person like me can handle that.  Instead, I am talking about what do you do when life shifts in a more permanent way- when you already have a full plate, but all of the sudden you have more things you need (or want) to include.  Suddenly that perfect schedule or routine that you have no longer works and things can seem overwhelming!

The truth is, we just cannot do everything.  This is very hard for me to admit- as Lexy can attest, I have visions of doing everything perfectly and pleasing everyone- and I HATE HATE HATE when I feel like I have not performed my best or when I have let someone down.  However, what I am learning is that it simply is not possible to do everything and that as life changes we have to be flexible, take a step back, figure out what really is important to us, regroup and create an entirely new routine or schedule that works for us.
Does this mean that we have license to start eating like crap or skip exercising because we are too busy? ABSOLUTELY NOT! Instead, it means refocusing on your goals and figuring out how to incorporate your healthy lifestyle in a way that works for you.   Here are some examples of changes that I have made in my schedule/routine recently:
-         Running: Getting in 3-4 runs a week (including one long run) is still a priority for me.  Running keeps me healthy and strong, is a great stress relief, burns a ton of calories and as I said the other day “running makes me way nicer.”  As much as I enjoy running group, there are times when not getting home on a Tuesday night until 8:30 or getting up at 6:30 on a Saturday morning has interfered with other things that I needed to get done or wanted to do.  Instead of feeling guilty about missing running group, I have shifted my focus to simply getting my weekly mileage in no matter what; if that means squeezing in a 10 mile run between Easter celebrations in the middle of an afternoon, that is a perfectly acceptable substitute.  In fact, recently I have been running some on weekends with my boyfriend Kevin and the time that we spend talking as we run (that is until we both get out of breath or I am cursing the fact that he lives in a hilly neighborhoodJ) has been great time for just the two of us. 

-         Healthy Eating:  Between being busy at work and having a lot more fun things to do on the weekends, I have not had as much time to make a bunch of meals from scratch ahead of time.  Does that mean that I have gone back to eating crap? No! Eating healthy, nutritious, real food is still a priority for me- so when I do not have time to make a bunch of things from scratch, instead of caving and running through a drive through,  I will resort to healthy quick meals (such as oatmeal or eggs or salads with chicken).  If I do not have time to make my own pita or sweet potato chips, I do not grab a can of Pringles- I will go to Trader Joe’s and buy the organic equivalent.  If I know that I am going to be going out to dinner more than usual in a week/weekend, then that may count as my extra treat for the week instead of going to Graeters. 

-        Strength Training/Toning: As much as I loved my trainer, twice a week training sessions were no longer in my budget.  However, since I have been feeling flabby lately and I still want to be toned, lean and strong I have found some at home strength training workouts on Pinterest and I also am going to start going rock climbing more.
For me, the key was letting go of the notion that I had to stick to the exact same routine or else I would fail; instead, I realized the smartest course of action was not to try to cram more activities onto an already overcrowded plate, but rather to acknowledge that life and my priorities had shifted and to adjust my time, schedule, and healthy lifestyle to realign with those shifts. 
You know what else I’m learning (or trying to learnJ ?  When you choose to reprioritize your life or schedule, not everyone may be pleased with your decisions. However, letting others make you feel guilty for doing what is right for you only adds unnecessary stress and pressure! Trust me, I know this is easier said than done, but try to think of that extra guilt or peer pressure as a thick layer of fat on top of your already full plate and scrape it into the trash!!!


  1. Very good article. I have always been the person that felt I had to do it all myself. Then I grew up and realized the amount of people I had to please was a small group and they were the ones that mattered. "They" say with age comes wisdom, I think with age we just don't give a crap what other people think. Good for you. You have found a way that works for you to fit a healthy lifestyle into your life. ( Hope we don't make it difficult!)

  2. Patti, you guys do not make it difficult at all:)