Sunday, April 29, 2012

A Balancing Act - Finding Balance Between Work and Life

As a special request from about 5 women ... a combination of stay-at-home-moms (sahm) and working career moms, my next blog details how I find balance between work and life.  This blog is long overdue because I seem to be asked this question almost every week!  The last time was when I was mistaken for a sahm at the mall play area when in circumstance, I just took a day off to spend with my son, Alexander.  No offense taken at all; it was a rather nice conversation with the sahm and I told her about my routine and balancing act while our children played together.

First off, I want to make clear that it does NOT always go well.  My husband and I have our small and fair share of conflicts, missed schedules or forgotten bill payments because he is also in a very demanding and deadline-oriented job with a 45-50 minute commute each way, depending on traffic.  Marriage really is TEAM work especially when you involve children in the mix.

Most of you know I trained and dieted down to get ready for my first fitness competition back in August 2011.  The 12 weeks needed to train for this show started on May 13th.  Just the weekend before, my husband and I went to Las Vegas to re-charge and that was the last weekend for me to truly enjoy life before I started this new adventure.  The first 4-5 weeks went fine; I still worked from home 100% at my other job so this enabled me to be at the gym 6 times a week every morning, sometimes 7 days.  My kitchen was accessible so it wasn't difficult to have my foods prepped; what was hard was putting in 40 hours of work while maintaining my household and spending quality time with my husband and son.  Starting 4 weeks out, I went to do cardio in the mornings and then came back in the evenings to lift.  In between that I worked.  Long story short, I didn't sleep well which made me irritable and tired and eventually Jason, my hubby, wasn't too happy either and missed our weekly Saturday evening date nights.  I tell you how it is bluntly because I will not lie to you that training for a competition as a full-time professional, full-time wife, full-time mom was one of the toughest times I've had .. and forget friends, I had to cancel several brunch/lunch dates too (and thank you to all of my friends who understood); in addition, I also had to cancel lunches with my parents at our usual Vietnamese pho noodle place (yes I'm sooooo Asian lol!) - everything changes basically! .. The worst part of all was my son's school also mentioned that at 2 weeks out showtime, my son was misbehaving and they thought it was simply because he missed his Mommy.  That really broke my heart :-( ...  At 2 weeks out, I had a crying meltdown and my hubby sat me down and told me that I've come so far and that I only have 2 weeks left.  He had a point and he knew how important this was to me.  Before we got married, he knew that I was one to set a goal and go all the way to achieve it.  I can't quit now.


Overall, the fitness competition was an amazing experience and I have amazing pictures to prove it to my grandchildren one day (I can say to my grandchildren - "Lola - grandma in tagalog - was hot at one point!") ... Lol! - After competition and which is a pretty normal question, family and friends asked if I wanted to compete some more, perhaps make a living out of it.  Considering I had just competed the weekend before, I couldn't quite answer that question fully, heck I didn't know.  Yes at that moment, I'd love to do more of course.  And even now, 8 months after, I would love to train and compete again for another.  But here's the catch and reality.  I am now 31 years of age, happily married, raising a son and working as a full-time senior tax professional.  And yes, Jason and I eventually want to have another child one day.  I had to make a decision and now I can realistically say that no I do not plan to make competing in fitness shows as my full-time job or breadmaker.  I would actually be going in reverse with my career as I have worked so hard to get where I am at now.  It would be one thing if I did not enjoy or like what I am doing, then yes I would possibly consider a switch.  Perhaps if I was still in my early 20s then it would be more credible (and much easier) to work, devote the gym time and make sacrifices because it only involves you.  I am a wife and mother at the moment and I do not have much free time at all so when I do, it will go towards what and who is the most important in my life at the moment ... and that is my husband and my son.  Of course, I've not ruled out another one for sure.  Jason and I actually discussed it one night while we had our coffees.  We both think it is best that if I compete again that it be after we are done having children and these children are a little bit older to understand the commitment that Mommy has to give towards doing a fitness competition.  And just like my first one, the reason I would be doing it is "icing on the cake" for having lost 52lbs and getting fit; and most importantly to have fun.  I am not chasing my dream there; my dream is a life full of balance in my family, faith, career, my children and my hobbies.  As a Mom, we all have that tendency to care for others before we care for ourselves.  And that's wrong thinking.  We should still make sure we are on that list of to do's or to take care .. whether it be making it to the gym 2-3 times a week, taking an hour to shop at the mall by yourself, or treating yourself to a massage, manicure or pedicure.  Like I always say, "a happy child benefits from a happy Mom!"   I think I've answered the competition question as truthfully as I can so one down, one more to go =) ... 

The other day at work, we had a web seminar on "Working Parents."  We had a panel of individuals that ranged from all ranks both Mom and Dads.  I'd like to share with you a few tips they all shared with the audience:

- Take an hour on Sunday evening to sit down and plan with your spouse the week (i.e. who/when will pick up the children or take the children to soccer, ballet, karate, etc.).  This tip is for when both parents are working parents.
- Don't be afraid to ask for help.  One senior manager shared that she likes it when a co-worker asks for a favor because that means she will be able to also ask one in the future.  One of the main reasons Jason and I moved to Dallas from Cincinnati is the family network we have here.  I don't know where we'd be without my parents and my brother who also assists with our son in case Jason and I have to stay late in the office one day.  They also take our son for 2-3 hours on Sunday.  This gives me time to cook our meals for the week while Jason catches up on house projects or projects at work he has a deadline on that week
- When volunteering at school, try to choose the event that will enable you to interact the most with your child(ren).  Since us working parents are already limited on our free time, we should be selective in our events.  One of the events is chaperoning on field trips where it would also enable you to meet your child's friends.  It's not that we don't want to volunteer for the other events, heck if you are like me, I'd volunteer for ALL events, but your child's school should understand and at the end, your child will most remember Mom or Dad's efforts in the long run.

Jason and I basically have a routine each week and we divvy up our duties.  He is a master in ironing so that duty goes to him (I horribly stink at it :-/); I do most of the cooking in our household as well as laundry.  We have a set schedule on who does drop-offs and pickups on certain days.  I do pick-ups after school on two days during the work week so Jason can hit the gym right after work and when he gets home, dinner is already ready and Alexander bathe, then we eat dinner as a family.  One rule we did implement is absolutely no TV during dinner and we sit together for dinner (that means blackberries are also off or not in sight!!) .... We ask each other about our days and it is so much fun to hear Alexander tell us about his day! =) ....

I've also communicated to work in the very beginnings what flexibility I needed to succeed at my job and to succeed in my home.  Depending on my son's schedule, I may work 1-2 days a week from home and Jason will sometimes work remote as well in case I am needed in the office.  I am also able to work around the clock so I can tend to my son when needed.  I am very thankful to have the job and employer that I have and I recommend working parents to continue looking for that job that will empower you to succeed in both your career and your home. 

Lastly, I will gladly share that I now weigh 130lbs and wear a size 4 or 6 in clothing (pics below), depending on the fabric and/or brand.  I am no longer 122lbs which was my weight when I was at the gym every single day of the week.  But, I am also not 170lbs and a size 12/14 back when I started in June of 2010.  My weight or clothing size does NOT define me.  I do what defines me and what makes me come alive.  And what makes me come alive is the fact that I can be happy with the balance of my life; that I make time to workout even if it is not everyday, make time to earn a living to support my family; make time to further my education to further my career; make time to enjoy and love my husband, make time to raise and love my son, the list is just infinite! ...



Remember that people's expectations say more about them that it does you.  Time is wealth.  And the time I put towards what is most important to me will reap me the most wealth.  And so I ask, "What defines you?" ...

I'd love your feedback!  Please keep the questions/email/texts coming =) ... Have a fabulous week!

Cheers,
Mrs. Chilly

P.S. - I forgot to mention my outfit since it is also a fashion blog too after all =) ....

Top - Loft
Shorts - Loft
Sandals - Loft

This is my "casual" Mommy mode on the weekends! =) ...

6 comments:

For His Glory said...

Great post honey! Keep up the good work! I am so glad to have met you and you have been a true inspiration to me! Love ya!

Mrs. Chilly said...

Thanks girly!! I am blessed to have met you as well. You are a great addition to my life =) ... Thanks again for all of your support in my blogging efforts. Can't wait to see you again! <3 - love ya too!! ...

Emily Moreno said...

Hey sweet lady! Thanks for the tips and inspiration! You look fab! Curious question: now that you are just normal fit April and not competing fit April, what is your self confidence, self opinion, and self whatever else about your body at the weight and look it is now compared to the feelings you had about it after all the training you did? I know number wise there is barely a blink of a difference, but if you are not toning AS much as you were, you might not be as solid as you were. Just wondering if you are still at a point in your own mind of being happy and satisfied with your current body knowing what it felt like to be even tighter at one point in time? I know what it feels like to be "skinny" and fit in the way that I was dancing every day 2-3 hours a day, but I was not ever fully toned. And I don't know yet if that is a goal I want to have or not. Its hard to really set a goal body size or weight when you don't know how it will look and feel until you get there. I will keep going till I know I feel like I am at a size and look I am happy with as my overall goal instead of something specific on the scale. Do you know what it took for you to get to that point in your journey...mental wise???

Mrs. Chilly said...

Hi Emily! Of course, I would love to look like "competing April" all the time who wouldn't?, but the situation I am in now does not allow me to spend 2-3 hours at the gym each day or take back to back group fitness classes, work minimum 40 hours (not including the OT that is required in my position) and take supplements in my body. Which also my doctor did not recommend to take while trying to add to the brood in the future. To be honest, my self-confidence is no different .. as you see I've included fashion in my blog which requires me to take full-body pictures of myself each week (which I hated when I was overweight and not confident). My self worth is actually at a much higher level b/c I know now what to do should I desire again to look that toned and lean (if I decide to cut back to part-time perhaps?). Overall, I am a much happier and smarter person b/c I have the knowledge and experience to achieve that "look" again. As far as my self-opinion, like I said here, my weight does not define me so my self-opinion of myself is the same back when I was "competing April" and "normal fit April" perhaps more. I have a lot going for me in other aspects of my life (ie. mainly career, family and achieving an overall balance), not just my body. I think I also answered your next question about being happy now than "competing April." Let's just say that I am much happier now b/c I am not eating fish for breakfast or chicken breasts 3 times a day or skipping out on my social life with family and friends or receiving reports from my son's school that my son is misbehaving b/c he simply misses his Mommy. Keep in mind that the models and competitors you see on Oxygen or TV etc. also have what they call "off-season" weight vs "competition" weight. During offseason, they still eat 80/20 clean (even 70/30 depending on what you are trying to accomplish) with a cheat here and there. Then when it's time to prepare for another show, they turn the game on mostly at 12 wks out and start dieting down again. "Competition mode" is not realistic and an everyday mode (although in my opinion it can be much easier if you're single with no children) - it's not impossible, but it's difficut.

As far as your goals, take it one step at a time. I don't recommend lifting heavy right now for you; interval trainings is what burns the most fat and I save those workouts when I do make it in the gym b/c there is more equipment available. But you can do vertical jumps and jump squats pretty much anywhere! I've had to adjust my routine now b/c I'm not as lean so I went back to taking group fitness classes and not lifting quite as heavy. The journey itself isn't all physical you're right, it's complete mental too. Once you get to fitness show mode, you tend to obsess to stay that look and for me I realized that I would have to sacrifice a lot to devote any free time I had to the gym. I also don't want to take any supplements at the moment that are not FDA approved (you can't compete nowadays without taking any supplements!). It all boils down to each person. My occupation is not fitness competitor or fitness model. I am a tax professional, full-time wife and mom with a passion for family, fitness, fashion and fun. Fitness competitions are in that mix somewhere and when I decide to again do one, then I'll be back to "competing April" mode once again. It's just this time in my life is not the right time.

I think this may have turned out to be another blog post! I will create another that will detail my diet for when I competed and my schedule/demands. And at the end of it all too, I still wasn't the best on stage - can you believe that? ... But most importantly I had fun and I went in there to experience with no expectation to win. Keep it up Emily! No turning back! I see Madame is also doing well with her journey =) ...

Cheers lady,
Mrs. Chilly

Emily Moreno said...

Thanks love! At the beginning of my WL journey, I thought "I'd be happy if I could just get to a size 12 ish maybe like 160-170 lbs. BUT I'm only 5'3. So basically I realized I was settling to still be overweight! So I have defintiely changed that to have my goal be to get into the healthy BMI range! :) And then stop at whatever number I feel like I can easily maintain and still have time for all the other priorities in my life! We can't take care of others before taking care of ourselves right?!? :) I think I got this! Just have to keep making it happen.

Mrs. Chilly said...

Great attitude Emily! Yes, we should take care of ourselves foremost and not feel guilty that we do. You have come such a long way, yes at 5'3 I recommend taking it by 5lbs; set short-term goals. Currently I have a goal of losing 5lbs as well now that tax season is over! ...