I spent this past weekend in Ann Arbor, catching up with 6 of my college roommates from nearly 25 years ago. Other than going to each other’s weddings, sending holiday cards and keeping in sporadic touch over the past couple of decades, we truthfully have no idea what each other’s every day life is like. Over the two days we had a chance to do some major catching up: we spoke about children, careers, lost loves, failed marriages, health issues, plans, hopes, fears, regrets, dreams. We are all at a really interesting place in our lives. We are comfortably settled into families and/ or careers, and figuring out what the next chapter may hold.
A big topic of conversation this weekend was my new fitness blog. My friends were curious, supportive, proud and excited for my new venture. Fitness crosses over every single boundary, every barrier. It really doesn’t matter where you live, what you do for a living, how much money you have or do not have. No one is immune from needing to focus on their health. You have a body, you have a responsibility to keep it healthy and a large part of that is working out, keeping yourself fit.
Everyone around the table at dinner the first night saw fitness as a different priority. Most agreed they wanted to fit it in, and make more room for it in their lives. Admittedly, their lives are full and hectic. In order to fit a daily workout in, it would definitely mean doing some shuffling and re-shuffling. One of my friends is a breast cancer survivor with other major health issues. For her, she needs to focus on fitness now more than ever. We sat down and she walked me through her day, it's packed! We agreed there are some small immediate steps she can take now and then re-assess later to ramp up. Another friend is a mountain biker and runs trails competitively. For her, she said her sanity depends on it. She verbalized she is a better mother, wife, and friend because of her ability to exercise and sweat it out. The stories around the table all were very different, but they all seemed to have the same thread running through them: fitting in fitness is not easy at our age and stage in our lives. We have so many other responsibilities.
More often than not, as women especially, we are so focused on everything else - kids, husbands, career, school, our other responsibilities in life, that we just don’t focus on working out. We see it as a luxury. We see it as something we can do after everything else is accounted for. What we really should be realizing however, is that unless this step is taken care of first, nothing or no one else can have our best selves, our best care.
One of my friends this weekend does realize this. She has a job she has to be at by 6am. She has two high school age children. She still works out 6-7 days a week. She gets up at 4am, goes straight to her basement gym and bangs out a 45 minute H.I.I.T. workout. She then showers, and makes breakfast for her husband and kids and goes off to work. I was blown away by her commitment to her fitness, her family, and her work. Nothing else is suffering in her life (except maybe her sleep!), she gets whatever she needs to get done in. She doesn’t go to a fancy gym, doesn’t hire a fancy trainer, she is just motivated internally. This is the greatest example she can be showing to her children. who are at an impressionable age and figuring out how to “adult” for themselves.
I know everyone is busy. The fabric and tenor of everyone's lives is different and complicated and straight line comparisons are impossible. I am not saying everyone should be working out at 4am (just so you know, I am truly in doubt that I could do this!). I am not saying you need to drop everything and fit in an intense workout 6 days a week. All I am saying is that where there is a will, there is a way. When you want something bad enough, when you know something is important and is a priority for you - you do it.
The morning after our dinner, everyone was pumped up - we all went up to the hotel gym and we did some basic workout moves that they can hopefully take back to their daily lives and do themselves. I was happy when I left these amazing women, so impressed with their commitment to family and to improving their lives. It inspired me to also assess priorities. I recommend it to everyone. Take a cold hard look at whatever it is that takes up precious space in your life. Make sure to make room for that which is important. Make room, not excuses.