The other morning I had to iron a shirt before work so naturally I couldn’t have a salad for lunch. You get that, right?
I assume most of you do. I assume your lives are like mine. I want to believe I can have it “all” (a reasonable “all”, that is, my “all” doesn’t include anything outrageous like a mansion or a yacht or a paid sick day) but usually things actually pan out more like this:
I’m trying to get to work on time in the morning and I can probably absorb one “add on” activity to the normal schedule. Ironing a shirt is going to take me at least ten minutes, and that’s if I don’t iron in more wrinkles than I iron out. I can’t make a salad too.
So what about just running out and buying one during my lunch hour? Well, then I’d spend way more than I would if I was making it at home and it would be way less healthy (possibly way, way less healthy). It isn’t a great choice. I can do that once in awhile but not regularly.
You know, unless you do the whole Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally routine and basically demand that the restaurant reconstruct the salad for you, and I do need to be more assertive about that. Still, I can make a week’s worth of salads for the nine bucks you pay to eat one out. (To be fair this salad, from the new place on 28th Street was seven dollars. You can also make smoothies or wraps at this place.)
Alright then, how about getting up a little earlier? No! I don’t want to! Don’t make me!I’m definitely not a morning person. I like my bed! Sometimes I just refer to it as “The Best Place”. Despite that, I have done the early riser thing. Getting up early is held out as a virtue and a universal cure for getting things done and I was determined to reap the full benefit no matter how painful the separation from my pillow. I went for a period of about a year setting my alarm for five. I can tell you it worked better for me if I was getting up to do something fun like writing and drinking tea, but I even ran at five.
If you run at five, you run in the dark. Generally that was all cool and everything but occasionally another runner would make me a little nervous (I mean, what the hell is he doing out that early in the dark?) and once I almost tripped over a dog because his thoughtful owner opened the front door and let him fly (I’m sure the dog always restricts himself to a polite pee in his own yard and hasn’t ever upended a runner).
Here’s two reasons I stopped getting up at five and I think it was in this order:
Winter, it’s super cold at five.
Cancer, you should get your sleep.
But the thing is, you should get your sleep even if you don’t have cancer and so the problem that occurred to me after almost a year of getting up at five was the math. I think math is always a problem but my cousin who teaches it patiently disputes that. If you get up early, you still need the same number of hours of sleep. Folks with credentials actually say now that if you don’t get enough sleep, all kinds of terrible things will happen to your body and your mind, including that you will gain or retain weight.
So when I was getting up at five, I was always trying to get to bed by ten. It was a race.
Which leads us to the night before. Why don’t you just make a salad the night before? Because I was in the ‘after work’ but ‘before bed’ race. I was trying to do a lot more than iron a blouse.
I was trying to have a quick snuggle with the cats, grab the mail, pick up a few things around the house, quit stalling and run or work out, sponge myself off a little especially now that it’s getting warmer, go into the kitchen and start opening cupboard and refrigerator doors in hopes that a wonderful dinner option will drop out into my hands, transition to hoping John will have a wonderful dinner option idea, hash out the most relevant daily updates with John and give up hope that he will have a wonderful dinner option, jointly explore the less wonderful options, cook or prepare something to eat and clean up afterwards and then there are about seventeen minutes of free time before it’s really getting too late to get in bed and read. I’m always hoping for a full chapter of whatever I’m reading but I’ll take just fifteen minutes and I don’t always get that.
Last night our trainer asked if we thought we could fit in an upper body routine on our own sometime during the week. I nodded and said “sure”. That seems reasonable. And then I started thinking about my daily routine. And I sighed and realized, okay, but I’m not going to be able to have a salad for lunch.
I’ve always thought that getting in shape and eating healthy was a matter of “getting my act together”. But now that I’m willing to really focus on this, to do things I previously considered extreme (abstain from alcohol during the week, consume things like spinach/blueberry smoothies and, duh, run), I realize that the “all” I’m trying for is – and this is going to sound contradictory – limited.
It takes time to wash and prep veggies, to get your miles in. There are only so many hours in the day whether or not your act is in the together position.
Unless it’s just me and the rest of you all are having no problem with balance. And if so, share your secrets! What are your life hacks? How are you managing? Tell us how to have more “all”! Is it possible to work forty hours a week, exercise, eat healthy and sleep???
(Okay, this is not the best example – I thought she was fussier about the salad, but you get the idea!)