Earth school is no joke! How did we become fully functioning, licensed adults without a detailed instruction manual? Looking around, even our well meaning friends seem just as frazzled and overwhelmed.
Throughout my adult life, I felt as if I juggled delicate glass balls while life threw wrenches at my head. That may sound dramatic, and admittedly, I am adding some notable flare to my story. However, there definitely have been times when that description rings true, and I know I am not alone in this.
At Apogee Wellness, we frequently uncover stressful emotions inhibiting one’s health. Particularly, stress from balancing one’s obligations, passions, and goals.
The practitioners at Apogee Wellness understand the challenge of balancing training and life as well as anyone. Dr. Chris and Dr. Emilea still train and compete while running a business, raising a family, and staying on their feet while life throws the wrenches.
We covered the reasons stress benefits the body here, which scientifically reinforces the infamous coach Patches O'Houlihan’s theory, “If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball!” Training and stress exposure has the potential to improve your output. The delicate balance of juggling to improve your baseline versus juggling to the point of exhaustion seems rather fine and blurred at times.
The juggling of training goals, whatever they may be, and the demands of life requires adaptability. Each season of life will attempt to throw you off kilter, and just when you are ready to claim victory over the training-life balance challenge, life whirls a wrench you failed to see coming.
Given the overwhelming number of patients we see who physically reflect imbalances in these areas, which manifests by way of weakened immune system, inhibited muscles, and systemic dysfunction, we believe this topic deserves attention. Here, we guide you towards balance of training and life using our experience and research to guide you.
Why Strive for Balance
More often than not, we just push through the tough times. Work deadlines, family obligations, and never failing to show up for our training partners keeps us reacting to life versus consciously moving through it. We constantly promise ourselves that the future delivers peace and harmony, but first, we just have to get past this time period.
Before you know it, our systems have run in a sympathetic dominant state. Symptoms of sympathetic nervous system dominance include:
Difficulty falling asleep
Difficulty staying asleep
Slow to recover from injuries
Difficult to calm
Experiencing a nervous stomach
Heart rate increases after eating and during times of rest
Anxiety and/or Depression
In addition, the training aspect leaves one at a greater risk of injury. The ancient Chinese practitioners knew that good health comes from balance in all things. Yin (feminine) and yang (masculine), light and dark.
For optimal health, we lean into the wisdom of TCM and strive for balance in training and life in unprecedented times.
Tips for Balance Training and Life
We thrive when our life force energy has a direction. Training goals and life aspirations move that energy forward. You’ve heard of someone retiring and passing away not long after retirement. This occurs, according to energy healers, as a result of someone only planning up to a certain point in their life. Their goals ended when work ended, and they didn’t have a clear, passionate reason to live. Their life force no longer moved forward.
On the other hand, our life force, like a bank account, dwindles as we spend tomorrow’s energy trying to juggle the glass balls and maintain a perfect record. It bears repeating; balance is key!
Training Cycle: We recommend a training cycle that involves one hard day, 2 moderate days, and one rest day or easy day. The physical stress of continuous training increases the risk of injuries, weakens the immune system, and energetically depletes the system.
Follow Menstrual or Moon Cycle: Our bodies contain infinite and abundant wisdom. The woman’s body functions best with three consecutive weeks more intense and productive with the fourth week, during one’s menstrual cycle, to replenish. Just as the moon affects the tide and even parasitic activity, mindfully slowing down during the week of the full moon will benefit all.
Build Your Intensity: Increase your volume and intensity by 10% each of the three weeks. In the fourth week, decrease the volume and intensity by 30%. Building your intensity in life and training allows your body time to adjust and build on experience.
Break Your Year Into Quarters: In an attempt to stay out of a reactivity mode and into proactive training and life balance, focus on different aspects of training and life goals each quarter. For example, you may desire to focus on building an aerobic base and building easy mileage during the first quarter, while focusing on making healthy meals with the family.
Each quarter, you establish a new focus or goal for the areas in your life you strive to balance. We all too often set goals that set us up to fail because we strive for perfection at all things immediately.
What does that gain us? Failure. Regression. Low vibrational energy. Dis-ease.
From one athlete to another, the following outlines the Apogee Wellness doctors’ quarterly training focus:
Build Aerobic Base, Easy Miles
No "hard" workouts; incorporate strides/short hills
Build Aerobic Endurance
More steady states, keep mileage high, build intensity
Mileage drops, intensity increases, more intervals
Take off 2-4 weeks, easy aerobic mileage, incorporate new training
Prioritize: Breaking down your priorities for each day allows you to gain a clear focus. Why stop there, right? Prioritize your week, your month, and your year to gain clarity beyond the day. Ask yourself if what you prioritize aligns with your values.
Utilize Block Scheduling: Time blocking essentially allows you to designate periods of time in your day to accomplish or dedicate to specific tasks. Block scheduling enhances productivity and decreases the sense of imbalance only if one sticks to the boundaries set within the time block.
We do advise that you build in 10 minutes of movement for every 50 minutes of sitting, and it is important to note that our brain needs a break after 90 minutes of sustained focus.
Set Clear Boundaries: Piggy-backing off of the block scheduling, set clear boundaries in all aspects of your life. For example, you may decide that work cannot infiltrate your life after 6:00 in the evening, or if a gossip-loving friend stops by your house to chat, you may want to politely end or change the conversation. Why direct the limited and fleeting energy you do have to someone or something low vibrational?
Play: Life is meant to enjoy not to simply endure! Ideally, one would indulge in a mini vacation every quarter with a longer vacation once a year. Between times, we encourage you all to channel your inner child and play!
Say “No”: Overcommitment sneaks up on us like Michael Myers in every Halloween movie! You just go about your life saying yes to everyone and everything, and the next thing you know, you are running for your life!
We say “yes” with good intentions, but we encourage you to quarterly evaluate your obligations. Is what you commit yourself to based out of a sense of obligation or fear of letting someone down? Or, are all of your obligations life giving? Once again, your energy is a precious commodity and worthy of life giving commitments to help harmonize your experience.
Practice Grounding: The all too familiar scattered feeling benefits from practicing daily grounding techniques to pull our energies back to homebase. Grounding may occur by simply walking barefoot in nature or even your garage or basement concrete floor! Imagine your energy penetrating the earth and securely fastening you to the earth.
Practice grounding techniques when you feel overwhelmed or unable to focus to instantly bring balance to the moment.
Set an Intention Each Day: While this sounds a lot like prioritizing, it is more, well, intentional! I recently heard an interview with Michael Beckwith saying that most of us have “intention deficit disorder.” What a profound statement! By setting your intention for your day, your week, and your life, you call in balance and live life consciously versus in a chaotic, reactive manner.
Meditate: Spending time in meditation works similar to grounding as meditation is a yin exercise that helps balance the yang of training and life. Balance goes far beyond the time dynamic allotted between training and everyday life. Even a short, 5 minute meditation aligns your energies to better accomplish the yang tasks throughout your day.
Strive for Happiness Over Perfection: Give yourself love and grace! What advice would you give your child? “We just want you to be happy” is what I would say to my child. Perfection may not equate to happiness.
This topic reminds me of my former mentor. He told me a story of his mentor whom he idolized early in his career. His mentor was a bank president, held several prestigious positions on boards throughout the community, and worked long hours, which earned him an enormous amount of respect. One day, the police informed this man that his son shot up a public place. He also learned that his wife had filed for divorce.
His life clearly lacked balance, and he and his family suffered as a result. We encourage you to strive for balance in training and life as well as yin and yang. Remember your values and align your energy accordingly.