I love to listen to the Dave Ramsey Show as I work or do my hair and make-up. One of my favorite ideas of his is that life isn’t ever really balanced. I’ve heard him explain how there are certain seasons of life that require his life to be a bit off balance. When he trains for half marathons (maybe full, I don’t remember) he says his life is focused around his running times and his diet. It has to during that season but he can’t spend that amount of time running on a year-round basis that he does when training.
We all have seasons in our lives where we are off balance. After a new baby enters the family, life is very much off balance. When you move, your life is off balance. These are obvious situations in that cause life to tilt one direction or another. But what happens when it isn’t obvious?
This is where I found myself yesterday. I didn’t realize my life was off balance until I noticed the fog I’ve been living in for a few weeks wasn’t lifting. If you read my blog you may be asking, “What fog?!?” The reason it may not be evident in what I’ve written is because I’ve been writing about the area of my life I’ve been giving the most attention: my family’s daily life (schedules and chores) and spending the holidays with friends and family. Those two things take a lot of energy. Now that the holidays are over and we’re getting our lives on the schedule, I’m putting a lot of my energy toward succeeding with the schedule and chore training. Fortunately, I have seen the level of energy required for training steadily decrease so I know for sure it’s going to be worth it.
However, I’ve noticed my energy for exercise has been nonexistent. I haven’t quit and I haven’t missed a workout in several weeks, but my endurance and motivation are gone.
As I got ready for my run I shared with Matt how I was feeling. I told him that I wished God had made me different in two areas: I wish he had made smaller with fewer parts of my body that seem determined to resist toning and I wish he had designed me with that gene that would make me love exercise. I know people who love to run. They get off work early sometimes just so they can run. They plan their vacations around which marathons are going on in certain parts of the country. They love doing things that make absolutely no sense, like lifting huge tires in the driveway or converting the garage into a seriously torturous gym.
Matt then said, “Well, at least you like the high you get after running.” I have to admit, I do like that I feel great after a run, but the previous day’s run had given me no high and I was discouraged about my time. I had basically run like an old man. You’ve seen him. He’s wearing all the running gear and swinging his arms like he’s moving at the speed of light but yet you can pass him while walking and holding the hand of your two-year-old. That was me. I was going as fast as I could possibly make myself and yet it wasn’t fast.
Matt’s response to me telling him this was that I needed to get outside and soak up some lithium. I took that as my hint to stop whining and I headed out for my run. Before I hit my first half-mile I was reduced to walking, something I never let myself do on a regular run. I ended up having to walk a whole minute up the hill before I could carry on. I was so weighted down with whatever this fog is that I could barely make it up the hill. By the time I hit the three-quarter-mile mark I was wishing I had my computer with me. (Now THAT would have been a sight!) I would have sat down right there and journaled what was going through my mind, certain I was not the only one to struggle with hating exercise. I was on the verge of tears which is never good while running. I couldn’t think of one particular thing that was wrong in my life. I love everything about my life and, in fact, the only things I would change given a few free wishes from a genie would be the two I mentioned above. So why the heaviness?
While running I basically complained in my mind about how much I hated running and how little benefits I’m seeing from it. I then chided myself for complaining and reminded myself that running was doing me no good since I was actually undermining its benefits by eating poorly and not drinking water. I know it’s my fault that I haven’t lost the seven pounds I gained over the holidays. I know my body is complaining while I run because I haven’t consumed enough water. Logically, I’ve got that all figured out. But what was causing all of this, I simply didn’t know. Some of you are probably thinking: Duh. Eat less, drink more water. Thanks. I got that. But sometimes knowing something isn’t enough.
As I hit the 3 mile mark my mind was still not where it needed to be, but my body had finally adjusted to the exercise and I was no longer hating what I was doing. I finished the four miles in turtle’s-time but had enough energy to run another quarter-mile to get home faster so Matt could get his run in before rain/night set in. Knowing I had that energy and that my body had accustomed to the run enough that I was no longer at the “I just wanna lie down right here on the ground and hope no one runs over me” stage felt nice.
And then I remembered the “balance” discussion on the radio and it hit me.
My life is off balance. And instead of seeing it as a bad thing, Dave Ramsey suggests it’s just how life is. Right now I’m spending a lot of my mental energy on our home life. I find myself training the boys at all hours of the day. It’s definitely worth every ounce of energy I’m putting into it and I have a post I want to write about all the benefits I’m seeing around the house and within the boys’ hearts, but regardless of these facts, I’m off balance.
I will continue to run 3 days a week but I want to give myself a break when it comes to the “hating it” part. If I hate it now, so be it. I normally do get a great lift in my attitude when I exercise and I receive long-lasting benefits to my healthy as a result. I will hopefully get back to a point where I hate exercise less and can feel more satisfaction at my pace. But for now, I am recognizing that I’m off balance and that this is just a season.
Other factors are also causing me to feel blue: The Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Year holidays are over. They were also the last ones we’ll spend in this house, the house we brought Parker home to. One of my closest friends has moved away. It’s rained for three straight months AND we’ve had no snow (I LOVE SNOW!). I’ve been enjoying way too many comfort foods. I have been spending a lot of time and energy on a particular area of my life, which is great and has long-lasting results, but it’s part of what is making me feel off balance.
Now that I have all that sorted through, I can hopefully deal with the imbalance. Sometimes simply knowing what’s going on is enough to make me feel better. Ecclesiasties 3:1 states that “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.” I am squarely in the season of focused-child-training, oh, and I have a baby in the mix, too. I am going to pray that my attitude is more appreciative of the fact that I can run 4 miles without stopping (most of the time ). I am thankful for my health.
Some words of wisdom from my friend, TJ, who happens to love all things exercise related: “Never stop on the hill. Tell yourself that you can stop when you get 50 meters past the crest and by then you’ll probably have recovered and won’t need to stop.” I’ve heard her advice in my mind every time I hit a hill and can count on one hand the times I didn’t follow it. I think it applies in life, as well. Matthew 11:28 is my encouragement regarding exercise right now: Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
(This is a silly picture of me taken on the day my friends and I took the Sound of Music tour. I remember feeling like I wanted to run. It was one of the few days I’ve ever felt that “itch to run” that many of my friends experience on days between their runs. I was excited to have that experience and the next day I had a great 4 mile run through snow and it was fabulous. I just wish that I could experience more of that.)