People often ask me, “Between your work load and family obligations, how do you keep it up?” I never really have a good answer. Of course, it takes a great support team, and you get a great support team, not by being nice, but by being fair. For example, if you’re nice to the person who is late for work and doesn’t meet expectations, then you’re being unfair to the co-worker who has to pick up their slack.
Being tough and fair is often assumed to be easy and natural. For me, it took practice and a lot of sleepless nights. It wasn’t easy to drag myself into the role of disciplinarian to adults.
This past month another ‘how do you keep it up’ answer exposed itself: exercise.
Since spraining my ankle six weeks ago, my visits to the gym have been far and few between. At first, I thought, “I’ll just do upper body exercises on the machines.” But by the time you’ve hobbled around in one of those heavy boots all day, you have little energy for even that.
We all know the benefits of exercise for strengthening and toning the muscles, but a less visible or thought of benefit of exercise is the clarity of mind it affords. I first began to notice the slow firing of my synapses during an Up In Your Business interview with P. Allen Smith. My vocabulary left me wanting and my ability to complete clear sentence and explain myself fully was failing. The next week, I began to notice my daily crossword puzzles were piling up, uncompleted. I felt frustrated in a way I didn’t understand.
I was able to attribute my fogginess problem to a lack of exercise and reduced blood flow to the brain. I immediately went to the wall and stood on my head…seriously!
It is hard to drag yourself to the gym, or force yourself into a neighborhood walk or run. But the results are so worth it and finding an exercise partner makes the effort easier. If you get statistical about the time it takes to exercise, this is what you will find. In a 24-hour day, one hour of exercise equals 4% of the day. If you only commit to 30 minutes, it is just 2% of your day. I try to exercise 3 times a week. When you look at exercise over a period of a week, 3 hours of exercise is a little over 1% of your week. So, don’t get overwhelmed! Relax. Life is unfinished and so is exercise.
Now when people ask me, ‘How do you keep it up,’ I will say: “By being tough, by being fair, and by remembering to exercise,” (even if it is just a little).