Updated: Sep 30, 2018
When I moved to Charleston, I arrived with a commitment that I would not overwork myself.
In my head, it seemed straightforward; Don’t take any job that would require all of your blood, sweat, and tears.
That previous winter, I had my first panic attack, which was a direct result of not listening to my mind, followed by not listening to my body - And because our bodies are these amazing structures, mine shut it down for me when I thought I was too busy to slow down.
It was a wake-up call to slow down, evaluate my values, and find balance.
For years, I kept saying, “yes” to everything and everyone, including my own ideas.
“Let’s start a track & field league.” Yes!
“You’re so organized, can you run this ______ league too?” Yes, yes, yes!
“Wow, you’re doing a great job. Do you want to lead this _____?” Yes!
“Let’s train for this race.” Yes!
“Could you ____?” Yes, umm wait, what did you say?
I’d say yes, before you’d even finish asking.
And on, and on, and on…
The trouble was, eventually I ran out of time, and when I ran out of time, my sleep suffered.
On many mornings, I woke up with my laptop in my bed.
On top of all of that, my relationships with family and friends suffered as well.
I found that I was either exercising too much, or partying too much, or working too much to maintain the relationships that were most important to me.
A Wake Up Call
On August 15, 2016, I had a really important day ahead of me at work.
I got to work really early and cruised through the day getting all of the things done.
Fifteen hours later, I arrived home, completely exhausted.
Then, I remembered it was my dad’s birthday.
I hadn’t stopped for two minutes to pick up the phone and call him.
I promise you that I am not still beating myself up about not finding the time.
The difference between “2016 Erin” and “2018 Erin” is that it’s not about finding the time, it’s about making the time.
All of the tasks that seemed so important at the time could have waited.
Pausing to breathe at least once during the day would’ve allowed me to realize that I didn’t call.
But I was in too deep.
Everything was urgent.
Everything had to be perfect.
When my mind is in a stressed state, I’m unable to slow down and truly focus on what’s important.
So when I finally called my dad, it ended up being more of an apology, than a celebration of his birthday.
Four days later, my grandfather passed away.
Nothing makes you pause and realize what’s important than an ill family member, or even worse, death.
I went home to Buffalo. We celebrated my grandfather’s life for the next two days.
I was able to spend time with my dad - but he wasn’t feeling well. After the funeral brunch, I gave him a really big hug and said, “I’ll see you in the fall.”
“When?" he asked.
“I don’t know.”
The next day, while heading to the airport to go back to reality, my brother called to tell me that my dad had passed away while mowing his lawn.
The previous day.
In my dad’s backyard, I sat down under a tree and waited for the funeral home to come get my dad.
Through streams of tears - I knew that I was about to make some changes in my life.
I just didn’t know how I was going to make them a reality.
I have four personal tools that I’ve recently begun to use to help me find balance in my life.
#1. Finding a Therapist.
It’s not embarrassing. It shouldn’t be stigmatized. Mental health is just as important as physical health, and you cannot have one without the other. It took only a month to realize that I needed a mental health professional to help me understand the grief process in order to move forward. After six months and three therapists (yes, you’re allowed to “shop around”, in fact, I recommend it), I made a connection with one. That therapist made me answer tough questions, look at my past self in ways that I hadn’t before, and finally begin to move forward.
Therapy is incredibly rewarding when you’re really being honest with yourself (and your therapist). My anxiety has been mostly in check for over a year due to a treatment called Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). When my anxiety does rear its ugly head, I have learned ways to manage it before it gets worse.
#2. Hiring a Personal Trainer.
No, this isn’t a cheap plug for myself. Two months after my dad’s passing, I hired a personal trainer. As a trainer, it’s really beneficial to work with another trainer to hone your knowledge and become not only stronger, but a better trainer for your clients. You don’t know what you don’t know.
Understandably, at that time, I wasn’t working out at all.
I was haphazardly getting runs in here and there.
My trainer helped me regain a commitment to myself when I needed it the most.
Nothing came between me and my training sessions, and I can’t explain how much I needed that stability and consistency in my life at that time.
#3. Working With a Life Coach.
By December, I knew that it was time to take the necessary steps in making Lingle Fitness more than just a dream. I met with a friend who was a life coach, and I knew he'd ask me the tough questions about my dreams and help turn them into a reality.
I met with my coach every other week for a few months, developing time management strategies that added hours to my day that I was wasting, and that new found time was used to work on Lingle Fitness (#sidehustle).
#4. Being Brave.
Being brave was the toughest part of this whole process.
Making significant life changes are so freaking hard. It’s even harder when you’re still grieving, and additionally tough when you’re still working on managing your anxiety.
But, I persevered.
As it inched closer and closer to the launch of Lingle Fitness, my excitement significantly outweighed the fear of all of those “what-ifs.”
There will always be more work to do - but I’m only good at that work if I maintain balance.
Everyday, I have to decide where to draw the line.
Remembering to breathe is critical.
Checking in when I feel a little shaky is vital. (Did I have too much coffee or is my brain trying to tell me something?)
Some days, I spend time with my family and friends.
Other days, I’m focused on making Lingle Fitness an outstanding service for my clients.
I don’t allow one to become so all-consuming that I lose balance of the other.
I know that my dad is somewhere out there in the universe, as proud as can be, encouraging me to continue to push, and continue to grow, and continue to learn, in my eternal journey to be a better trainer than I was yesterday.
My dad loved music and dancing. This week’s playlist is dedicated to him.
So put on your dancing shoes and move your body.
If you’re seeking balance and need a helping hand, please reach out to me.
I’d love to be part of your journey.