To the reader: Before you read this article, let me preface it by saying that I find most articles like this trite and unoriginal. Nowadays you can pretty much find anything on the internet. Titles like "10 ways to lose weight and keep it off" or "Top 20 Fitness Myths Debunked"are all over social media outlets and websites. That being said, I feel my best shot at reaching the largest number of people is to deliver something totally original - and the only thing totally original these days is personal experiences and my reaction to those experiences. So if you're interested in hearing my opinion of how people should balance being healthy with being a mom or having a career, or even both then read on!
Well-I've committed. I've told my family and friends. I have sent the emails with dates and times, I have bought a competition suit with a Brazilian back that shows nearly all of my ass. I now own a pair of 5" stiletto heels, and I actually paid to stand half naked in front of hundreds of people to be judged on my "muscular yet still feminine" physique. Twelve weeks of intense weight training, perfectly clean eating, optimal sleep schedules, no wine, no cardio - all for the grand prize of looking like the best version of me. But let me back up...
I work full time as a personal trainer. I'm married. I coach a marathon group. I volunteer my afternoons to help those who can't afford to train. I have an awesome group of friends who would like to see me more than once a year. AND (pause for effect)...I have a 15 month old. I mention my son last not only for literary effect, but also because at present, everything leads back to Cullen. He is always there...in the back of my mind (or the front) no matter how focused I should be on my other obligations. The guilt - ah the guilt - always there threatening to send me running out of the gym and back to his side where other more perfect moms would be. Right? Because let's face it - that's the issue that plagues me every morning. Shouldn't forming a bond with my one and only child be enough to keep me home during the day? Watching him grow minute by minute, nursing him back to health when he's sick, teaching him his colors, letters, and numbers - why don't I stay at home? The answer is ugly but true. It's because I don't want to. I love my son so much that it moves me to tears when he wants to snuggle before bedtime. I can't watch sad movies or read books about abandoned children without losing complete control - but I don't want to be a stay at home mom. Every day now I drag myself out of bed and run out the door before my son is even stirring to help motivate someone else to reach her full potential. Hour by hour I move through the day motivating, cheering, chasing the demons out of people who promise me they can't take one more step...and they do...and I win...and so do they. I feel great - I'm awesome because they're awesome. Training isn't some hobby for me or something I do to stay in shape while getting paid for it. It's a career, a calling, and my true love. So why do I feel so damn guilty when I pull out of my driveway every morning?
My husband says I overthink everything. I probably do. Let's be honest - if I didn't I wouldn't have so much to say in an article that was simply supposed to be about juggling being fit and being a mom. My morning starts at 4. I'm out the door by 4:30 to start my first client at 5. I work without a break for 8 hours so I can get a full work day in before noon. THEN I do my own 1 to 2 hour workout to train for this ridiculous figure competition. THEN I go joyously to pick up my son to spend the last 5 to 7 hours of my day laughing and giggling (because kids are ALWAYS happy in the afternoon, right?) with him. Let me be clear - those last 5 hours are BY FAR the most difficult hours of my day. The most enormous responsibility in this life is teaching another human how to be an "accepted" member of society while preserving all the little nuances that make him distinctly him. And what about me? What kind of person works a full time job in part time hours and AND tries to be a stay at home mom, too? Someone with a lot of energy. Someone with a hell of an ego. Someone who talks too much and is often running behind. But that energy and effervescence is what makes me distinctly me. And I am FINALLY ok with ME. I am constantly scrutinized for being a working mom because that's what our society does. And I judge. I judge the stay at home mom before I can help myself - not because I really believe that hers is the wrong the decision, but because hers is a decision different than my own. It's scary to think that my decision could affect my child in a negative way - that my selfish need to work outside the home will make him insecure or unsure of my love for him. But all that scrutiny and judgment is ok. It's simply part of our innate defense mechanisms. We're all so worried that someone out there is doing more with less and making it look easy. You've heard that saying: "somewhere someone busier than you is running." So we judge and scrutinize and criticize to justify our own decisions. But here's the truth - we all have our own battles. We cannot put the ideals of others on ourselves because trying on someone else's life is like trying on someone else's clothes. You can force it to fit, but wouldn't it be better to buy your own? I'm not asking my stay at home mom friends to accomplish even half of the things I do in a morning because my lifestyle simply doesn't "fit" on everyone. So when you ask me, "How do you do it? How do you work a full time job, train for a fitness competition, eat perfectly clean, manage your social calendar, AND be a good mom?" The answer is: I do it because I can and I do the best I can. That has to be enough. I do it because it's distinctly me. The closer we come to society's standards of perfection, the harder it is to accept any of our flaws. So my best advise is to stop trying to make someone else's life fit you. Learn to live your version of a "fit life." I don't have any lists of my top 10 things to make living a fit life easier...because it isn't easy - and no matter how hard you try to cut corners, becoming the best version of you shouldn't be easy. I love being a trainer, a wife, a friend, and a mom. My priorities include being healthy because I believe there is no better example to set for your children than getting up off the couch even when you feel you have nothing left to give and going for a walk. Being fit doesn't guarantee you a long life but it gives you a leg up - and in this crazy world of professional and personal paradoxes, I'll take a leg up any day.
So I'm committed...to my clients, my family, my profession, my friends, this ridiculous figure competition, ME, and most importantly-my son.
Written by Sloan Ashworth,
personal trainer for InnerStrength in Nashville, TN